Gaiety Theatre, London, 31 October 1879,
programme cover designed by H. Burnside;
The Rose of Auvergne; Daisy Farm;
and H.J. Byron's burlesque extravaganza,
Handsome Hernani; or, The Fatal Penny Whistle
This Gaiety Theatre programme, dated 31 October 1879, details the entertainment for that evening: first, a revival of Offenbach's one act operetta, The Rose of Auvergne (first produced at the Gaiety, Christmas 1869), with Emily Muir, Charles Fawcett and Tom Squire; second, Henry J. Byron's drama, Daisy Farm (first produced at the Gaiety, 25 October 1879), with H.J. Byron, E.W. Royce, Willie Warde, Charles Fawcett, Tom Squire, Louise Willes, Edith Bruce, Lizzie Coote and others; and third, Henry J. Byron's burlesque extravaganza, Handsome Hernani; or, The Fatal Penny Whistle (first produced at the Gaiety, 30 August 1879), with E.W. Royce, Edward Terry, Nellie Farren, Constance Gilchrist, Mathilde Wadman, Willie Warde, Kate Vaughan, Miss Amalia and others.
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'There is at present a lull in serious dramatic effort. The only attempt made at novelty is, not an original drama, serious or comic, but a burlesque by Mr. H.J. Byron, contributed to the Gaiety. It seems designed to prolong the influence of the visit of the Comédie Française Company to that theatre; and the subject of the new extravaganza is indicated by the title, Handsome Hernani, or The Fatal Penny-Whistle. But it scarcely satisfies expectation. We have no references in it to, or imitations of, Mdlle. [Sarah] Bernhardt, or of her compeers; but, instead, the unusual amount of punning, parody, song, and dance, aided by the really handsome Miss [Nellie] Farren for the imaginary stage hero. Herr [Meyer] Lutz is to be congratulated on his selection of the music, and Messrs. Hann and Perkins on the scenery. The costumes by Madame Alias speak for themselves. And "this is the sum of the matter."'
'By Handsome Hernani, the latest new burlesque at the Gaiety, little comment is needed. The obvious points of Victor Hugo's play and of its performance by Madame Sarah Bernhardt and M. Mounet-Sully have, doubtless for excellent reasons, been disregarded by Mr. Byron, who has chosen others, which give us an extravaganza neither better nor worse than others of its kind. Mr. Terry, who would have made a very funny brigand-lover is a quaint Ruy Gomes, whose songs in ridicule of old Castilian pride are the wittiest things in the play. Miss Farren makes of Hernani a young prince very like the other young princes whom she has presented in previous burlesques, and Miss Kate Vaughan is, or was on the occasion of our visit to the Gaiety, a Dona Sol too languid to fascinate except by her graceful abstention from song and dance. The only skit upon the performance of the Comédie Française is the Don Carlos of Mr. Royce, always a humorous and hard-working player. Handsome Hernani seems to contain the elements best beloved by the patrons of the Gaiety, but it displays little humorous invention and no power of caricature on the part of its author.'
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© John Culme, 2005