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no. 468

Saturday, 2 September 2006

a musical comedy written by Paul Herve,
with music by Jean Briquet,
in an English version by Adolf Philipp and Edward A. Paulton,
produced at the Gaiety Theatre, London, 30 May 1914

a scene in Adele

a scene from Adèle, Gaiety, London, 30 May 1914,
with, left to right, William Danforth as Henri Parmaceau, Carolyn Thomson as his daughter, Adèle,
Amparito Farrar as Babiole and Ralph Nairn as Jacques

(photo: Daily Mirror Studios, London, 1914)

The musical comedy Adèle, written by Paul Herve, with music by Jean Briquet, was first produced at the Longacre Theatre, New York, on 28 August 1913. It was transferred on 29 December that year to the Harris Theatre, New York, where it closed after a successful run of 196 performances. The cast included Natalie Alt in the title role, Georgia Caine as Mme. De Neuville, Hal Forde as Baron Charles de Chantilly, Craufurd Kent as Robert Friebur and as the rival fathers, William Danforth as Henri Parmaceau and Dallas Welford as Alfred Friebur.

Meanwhile, a separate touring company took Adèle around the United States during the latter part of 1913 and 1914, when a separate cast was headed by Carolyn Thomson in the title role. The publicity for the production hailed the piece as 'a musical success second only to The Merry Widow.' Then on 30 May 1914 the Broadway production of Adèle crossed the Atlantic and was installed at the Gaiety Theatre, London. Here the cast was largely unchanged except for Carolyn Thomson who replaced Natalie Alt as Adèle, and Amparito Farrar who appeared as Babiole.

Unhappily, Adèle was not well received in the British capital. As Kurt Gänzl (The British Musical Theatre, Macmillan Press, Houndmills and London, 1986, p. 1107), remarked, 'Adèle, a charming French piece . . . was decidedly less attractive in its American incarnation and proved anathema to London and most particularly to the Gaiety.' W. Macqueen Pope (Gaiety, Theatre of Enchantment, W.H. Allen, London, 1949, p.440) went further by stating that it met 'a very stormy reception,' particularly from the denizens of the Gaiety's gallery. The latter, traditionally never very tolerant of innovation, loved their favourites; not only was Adèle a distinct departure from the theatre's usual fare but none of the cast was familiar. The production closed after just 20 performances and the Gaiety remained dark from the third week in June 1914 until the opening of To-night's the Night, a musical comedy that went on to great success, on 28 April 1915.

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Adèle at the Longacre, New York, 28 August 1913

'Nothing quite so graceful and chic as Adele has come to New York in a long time. How much of this result is due to Mr. Ziegler, and how much to Ben Teal, the experienced producer, and Arthur Weld, the equally seasons musical director, I cannot say; and the question is of small moment. The chief point is that, for once, money was not merely poured out lavishly, but was spent discriminately and with taste.
'The new piece is along the lines of Alma, Where Do You Live? The same authors - Paul Herve, librettist, and Jean Briquet, composer, have written in the same vein; that is to say, have given us a dainty, sentimental, slightly risque farce, set to insidious waltzes and other lilting melodies. But in this case, while the music may not attain a popularity so great, the farce is funnier and has been translated into sprightly, often very witty, English, by Adolf Philipp and Edward A. Paulton; and the cast is wellnigh faultless. Adele is the daughter of a wealthy pickle manufacturer; but, not unlike a certain maiden of Cerona, her Romeo is the son of a rival house. Her father will not hear of such an alliance; and, being only 18, she cannot marry for seven years without his consent. The young folk take their trouble to a clever, mercenary widow, who advises Adele to marry another man, divorce him immediately, and thereupon, being free from parental authority, become the wife of the one she loves.
'Natalie Alt, in the title role, carried off the "hit" of the evening by virtue of a fresh, young voice and gentle, roguish personality, and by a nice discretion and restraint in singing and in acting. Yet Georgia Caine, as the scheming widow, and Hal Forde, as the bridegroom, were no less excellent. Miss Caine, who gained prominence as a beauty long before she developed her voice to its present richness, received almost as much applause for her work as for her gowns, and Mr. Forde's eloquent and tactful performances of the bridegroom, suggestive of William Faversham and Oswald Yorke in similar roles, was of inestimable value to the play as a whole. Will Danforth and Dallas Welford, as the rival pickle makers; Craufurd Kent, as the fiance, and Edith Bradford and Harry C. Bradley, in lesser roles, all contributed to the very positive success - the first in the beautiful new Longacre Theater.'
(Vanderheyden Fyles, The Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Missouri, 7 September 1913, p.13a/b)

a scene from Adele

a scene from Adèle, Gaiety, London, 30 May 1914,
with Georgia Caine as Mme. De Neuville and Hal Forde as Baron Charles de Chantilly

(photo: Daily Mirror Studios, London, 1914)

Adèle on tour in the United States, 1913/14

The Oliver Theatre, Lincoln, Nebraska, January 1914
'Bright lines, tuneful music, charmingly sang, pretty girls and gorgeous dresses provide a combination that go a long way to make Adele the musical comedy which comes to the Oliver Saturday matinee and night an entertainment worth while.
'Madame de Nenville, head of a school that Adele attended, plans to have her pupil marry Baron de Chantilly, with whom she is actually in love. She sees in the marriage and immediate divorce a way out of the trouble, for under the law parental objection carries no weight if the offspring once weds. Her plan carries out but not as she wishes, for the Baron finds soon after the wedding ceremony that he is in love with Adele and that he will not be divorced. This situation furnishes a new series of complications which develops an unlimited amount of humorous scenes and creates a farce comedy bright and snappy that could stand alone without the aid of a single bar of music.
'The cast includes Carolyn Thomson, who plays the title role, Annette Flack, who for three years was prima donna of the New York Hippodrome, John Park, leading baritone for the past ten years with the biggest musical organizations in this country, George O'Donnell, a grand opera basso with European and American reputation. Alfred Kappeler, who scored a tremendous hit in theWaltz Dream and the Arcadians, Ralph Nairn, leading comedian with the Gaiety theatre in London musical companies and a score of others, equally prominent.'
(The Lincoln Daily Star, Lincoln, Nebraska, Sunday, 28 December 1913, Women's Section, p.18d/e)

The Atlanta Theatre, Atlanta, Georgia, September 1914
'Adele the new operetta which will be brought for a return engagement to the Atlanta Monday and Tuesday, has been described as the biggest musical success of the past decade. Adele enjoyed a run of a solid year in New York. In the cast was Carolyn Thomson, who will be seen as Adele, John Park, as the Baron, Mae Phelps, as Myrianne, Stepen W. Stott, as Robert, Felix Haney, as Parmaceau, Lottie Vincent as Babette, Jules Epailly, as Friebur, and Ralph Nairn, as Jacques. Others in the case are Lawrence C. Knapp, Louise Burpee, Dorothy Betts, Jean Mann, George L. Willson, Mabel Silover, W.J. Reynolds, Sydney Davis, Bee Hughes, Edna Orth, Will Collins, Lena Vogt and Marie Barrett. Seats go on sale this morning at 9 o'clock.'
(The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, Thursday, 17 September 1914, p.14d)

'Adele, Charming as Ever, Pleases a Large Audience
'Adele is one of the most charming little operettas imaginable. It is altogether dainty - just the kind of amusement one feels grateful for these warm days when the air is surcharged with stories of war and of financial depression. It transports one to a delightful land of make-believe - the Paris of a few short months ago, before martial music took the place of lover's melodies.
'The music is delightfully catchy. One song alone, "Adele," the refrain of which runs through the three acts, is a haunting melody which is full of appeal. There are other good numbers, but none so distinctive as this one.
'I did not see Adele last season, but I am told that the production is fully up to the standard of last year. I can readily believe this to be true. There are but few changes in the cast, and these are of a minor consideration. The principals are the same.
'In addition to its tuneful numbers, Adele violets the rules of musical plays by offering a story, which, so far as I know, is new. But the plot is simple enough. There is little to distract one from the central theme and the incidental humor is delightful. During the three acts there is not a questionable line or a risque suggestion. It is clean, wholesome and refreshing throughout.
'Carolyn Thompson [sic], in the title role, was charming. She is a dainty little woman and her voice proved entirely adequate.
'John Park shared honors with her in the role of Baron de Chantilly.
'Jules Epailly, in the comedy role of Alfred Friebur, was extremely funny.
'There will be a matinee this afternoon and the concluding performance tonight.'
(Sidney Ormond, The Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, Tuesday, 22 September 1914, p.6d)

a scene from Adele

A few home truths pass between the fathers.

a scene from Adèle, Gaiety, London, 30 May 1914,
with Dallas Welford as Alfred Friebur and William Danforth as Henri Parmaceau

(photo: Daily Mirror Studios, London, 1914)

Adèle at the Gaiety Theatre, London, 30 May 1914

'Why do producers of a musical comedy when they have hit upon a really effective melody insist upon introducing it on every possible occasion until at last the audience is almost impelled to plead for a respite? In Adèle there is one very dainty number ['Adèle', recorded at Camden, NJ, on 26 September 1913 by Olive Kline (see below) for the Victor label, 17459A mx 13863-3; 1.2mb mp3], in which an equally dainty heroine, Miss Carolyn Thomson, introduces herself, and it was deservedly received with enthusiasm on Saturday. But late in the evening the number became, in addition to a solo, a duet, a concerted item for the whole company, and an entr'acte, and finally it was used by the orchestra to drown any discordant note in the reception of the production which descended from an over-critical section of the gallery. Even in musical comedy one can have too much of a good thing.
'A wholly American production in such a home of English musical comedy as the Gaiety sounds incongruous, and doubtless there are some who will regret the absolute departure from tradition. But there are some things in Adèle which one has not noticed in recent Gaiety productions, which make the change not unwelcome. In the first place, the chorus is small, and its members have been selected primarily for their voices; there is very little extraneous matter apart from the central theme, and a definite story is told in a straightforward fashion, the musical numbers helping to develop rather than to retard its action. The general complaint against American musical comedy is its noise and the breathless speed of an American production. It is rather an operetta than the newer type of musical comedy, and though it may be old-fashioned, it is much more restful than many recent productions.
'Adèle was the headstrong daughter of a provision merchant, who wished to marry the son of her father's business rival; but as she could not obtain the parental consent, she decided, first of all, to marry and divorce an impecunious nobleman, to give her an independent position in the world. The most obliging nobleman fell in with the idea, and it need hardly be added that both husband and wife quickly cooled of their other affections and decided to continue in the married state. A thin story to spread over three acts, doubtless, but the time seemed to be well spent, thanks to the excellent singing of Mr. Hal Forde, Miss Carolyn Thomson, and Miss Georgia Caine, and to the humours of Mrs William Danforth and Mr. Dallas Welford as the rival provision merchants. Now and again one sighed for the methods of Mr. Edmund Payne, though Mr. Welford is a genuine comedian with a method indicating apoplectic anger which convulsed the audience. It looks as if Adèle will prove a success, if only as a contrast to what one expects to find at the Gaiety.'
(The Times, London, Monday, 1 June 1914, p.13e)

'The Gaiety - strange metamorphosis - is given over just now to American musical comedy. But it is American musical comedy with a difference. Have we complained of the noisiness, the feverishness, the jingle, the inconsequence of this class of entertainment? Adèle is here to show us that America can provide its own antidote. You will search in vain in the production presented by Mr. Joseph P. Bickerton jun. for the usual restless and energetic chorus which keeps the stage in a constant simmer of excitement; instead, a selected group of ten beautiful and gorgeously dressed girls wander on a pose at rare intervals, adding, no doubt, to the picturesque but not to the vivacity of the scene. So far from there being no plot, the libretto which Messrs. Adolf Philipp and E.A. Paulton have Anglicised from the American, with is resemblances to The Marriage of Kitty [a comedy by Cosmo Gordon-Lennox first produced at the Duke's of York's, London, 19 August 1902] and its white marriage convenience which quickly turns into the marriage of romantic love, suffers rather from an excess than from a lack of story - story of the sentimental type. Finally, whereas the comedians only too often have things all their own way, there is none too much humour in Adèle, and what there is, mainly consisting as it does of "back chat" of burlesque Montagu and Capulet parents - tradesmen who quarrel at sight - distinctly makes for tedium. Still, there is piquancy in the idea of the quick change with which hero and heroine tumble into mutual adoration; there is much to amuse in Transatlantic conceptions of gay life in Paris; the score of Mr. Jean Briquet, without being in any sense original, is well stocked with tuneful waltz refrains; and the pair of principal ladies, Miss Carolyn Thomson as an ingènue and Miss Georgia Caine as a widow, know how to sing and how to charm. The curiosity of the performance is the mixture of spluttering and gurgling which Mr. Dallas Welford offers us to indicate symptoms of apoplectic wrath. It is perhaps worth adding that on the first night there were a few ungallant "boos" at curtain-fall - perhaps provoked by excessive enthusiasm of friends in front. But Adèle is such a change alike from ordinary Gaiety fare and ordinary imports from the States that it is likely to please on that very account.'
(Illustrated London News, London, Saturday, 6 June 1914, p.924b)

'A cablegram from London says that while the Gaiety Theater audience, at the matinee of Adele, wondered why the curtain did not rise, three detectives from Scotland Yard were behind the scenes questioning Dallas Welford, one of the principal comedians in the play. He had written the authorities a letter charging Joseph H. Bickerton, manager of the Adele company, and the manager of the Gaiety Theater, with having committed murder. In the midst of Welford's graphic and detailed description of the alleged murder, the victim of which, he said, was W.H. Pinkerton, founder of the detective agency. Buckerton and the Gaiety manager arrived on the scene with [?], who pronounced the comedian suffering from a nervous breakdown.'
(The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Sunday, 28 June 1914, Magazine Section, p.2b)

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(1885-1976), American soprano,
who recorded for the
Victor Talking Machine Co between 1912 and the 1930s

Olive Kline

Olive Kline

(photo: unknown, USA, circa 1915)

'KLINE, Olive, Soprano
'Olive Kline is one of the most gifted sopranos in the general concert field today. She has a voice of pure and lovely quality, used with an enviable perfection of art. She has toured the United States in concert and oratorio work, has appeared with the leading orchestras and been soloist at many of the great yearly festivals in the more important musical centres. Until a year or so ago she was a member of one of the highest-salaried quartets in the history of American church music, at the West End Collegiate Church in New York. Declining an offer to appear in opera, she nevertheless gave up this position to devote her entire time to concert work and the making of Victor records. She has sung music of every character, though her greatest successes have perhaps naturally been in the field of the standard popular song. From this fiend she has passed directly and with welcoming arms, into many thousands of American homes.'
(Victor Talking Machine Company, 1922 Catalogue of Victor Records, Camden, New Jersey, 1922)

For two other Victor recordings by Olive Kline, 'Waltz Entrancing' and 'The Ladder of Roses,' both made in 1916, see Dismuke's Hit of the Week, October 2004. As Dismuke observes, 'The Ladder of Roses' was written for the Broadway revue, Hip! Hip! Hooray! (Hippodrome, New York, 30 September 1915), but it was also included in the review, Razzle-Dazzle which was produced at Drury Lane, London, on 19 June 1916, starring Shirley Kellogg.

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