Lillian Russell in burlesque for the first time
Weber and Fields's Broadway Music Hall,
New York, 21 September 1899
'BURLESQUE IN NEW YORK.
'"Whirligig, a dramatic conundrum in two guesses," the second "guess" being "The Girl from Martin's [sic] [i.e. The Girl from Maxim's]; a bit of a fling at the Parisian comedy craze," formed the opening programme at Weber and Field's Broadway Music Hall, on the 21st inst., and drew such a big crowd that the little house was packed to the doors. Every seat in the house had been sold by auction at a high premium, two boxes having fetched $250 each. The jokes and comic scenes of the new offerings were by Edgar Smith, the lyrics by Harry B. Smith, and the music by John Stromberg. In Whirligig the authors have adhered to their regular methods in providing a story which has no particular point or moral, but gives opportunity for the introduction of witty absurdities, droll humour, plenty of music, gay costumes, and pretty girls. Messrs Joe Weber and "Lew" Fields are again seen as a pair of fun -making Germans who lose themselves in a labyrinthian [sic] dialogue of broken English, and have a knack of getting into trouble and involving others in their tribulations. The former is introduced as Herman Dillpickel, inventor of the Flotascope, "a machine for throwing living pictures on the native air," and the latter as Wilhelm Hochderkaiser, an architect with plans for a jail possessing all the comforts of home. An important feature of the programme was the début in burlesque of Lillian Russell, who, in America, bears the undisputed title of "Queen of Comic Opera," and whose salary at this music hall is said to be $1,500 per week. Miss Russell, who received an ovation on her entry, figured prominently in the first part as Mdlle. Fifi Coo-Coo, Queen of Bohemia, and The Girl from Martin's [sic], a burlesque on the Feydeau farce (a burlesque on a farce is surely a novelty) now running at the Criterion here, as the frisky young person who finds herself in the wrong bed. Doubts of Lillian Russell's popularity in burlesque were dispelled at the outset, for she adapted herself admirably to the new surroundings, and acted the burlesque scenes as though travesty, instead of comic opera, had been for forte for years. She presented a handsome appearance in a richly embroidered cream white gown, a crimson velvet hat with feathers of exaggerated dimensions, scarlet lingerie, and red slippers with diamond buckles. Miss Russell had two good songs, "The Queen of Bohemia" and "The Brunette Soubrette."
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