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FOOTLIGHT NOTES

images of theatre and other popular entertainment
1850s-1920s

no. 680

updated
Saturday, 25 September 2010

remembering Patrick O'Connor (1949-2010)

Harry Monkhouse


a cabinet photograph of Harry Monkhouse (1854-1901), English actor,
as Duvet in the comic opera Captain Thérèse,
by Alexandre Bisson and F.C. Burnand, with music by Robert Planquette,
which was produced at the Prince of Wales's Theatre, London, on 25 August 1890.
The cast also included Hayden Coffin, Joseph Tapley, Tom A. Shale,
Attalie Claire (in the title role), and Phyllis Broughton

(photo: Alfred Ellis, London, 1890)

'Monkhouse, Harry. (John Adolph McKie.) - there is no more general favourite than Mr. Harry Monkhouse, who is a native of Newcastle-on-Tyne, where he was born in 1854. Of course he was never intended for the stage - actors and actresses never are - and his parents, who were Presbyterians, gave him a liberal education at Newcastle Grammar School, which they intended should fit him either for a clergyman or a doctor. From acting in amateur theatricals and assisting behind the scenes at the local theatre on benefit nights, he rose to the dignity of small parts, and at length secured his first regular engagement at the Theatre Royal, Blythe, where Mrs. Wybert Rousby seeing him act, offered him his next engagement to go to Jersey as one of her company. From the Grecian, where he first played in London, he migrated to the Alhambra, and thence to the Gaiety for three years. He met, whilst touring with the Nellie Farren Gaiety Company, Mr. Wilton Jones, who wrote for him a very funny burlesque entitled Larks, and with this and other plays, he made several long and very successful provincial tours. Just as every comedian fancies himself a tragedian, so Mr. Monkhouse, who made his name in burlesque, fancies himself for parts in melodramas where pathos is the prevailing characteristic, and squeezes into his characters a little touch of pathos whenever the chance occasion offers. As Bouillabaisse in Paul Jones (1889) he made himself wonderfully popular, and the way he eventually worked up the part during its run at the Princes of Wales' Theatre was very marked. As Gosric in Marjorie and M. Duvet in Captain Thérèse he further added to his reputation for originality and humour. There he also played during the run of The Rose and the Ring and Maid Marian, but was drafted over to fill the ranks at the Lyric when the second edition of La Cigale was produced, and played with great drollness the part of Uncle Mat.'
(Erskine Reid and Herbert Compton, The Dramatic Peerage, Raithby, Lawrence & Co Ltd, London, 1892, pp. 154 and 155)

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