'FLYING TOUR OF GUILBERT AND CHEVALIER.
'Popular European Dramatic Notables Booked to Appear in Forty Widely Separated Cities In as Many Days.
'No more interesting figures than those of Mme. Yvette Guilbert and Albert Chevalier, the world renowned European song and character artists, who are now making a most extraordinary flying tour of this country under the auspices of Liebler & co., who are to be found in the dramatic world today, and it speaks well for the American people's keen appreciation of art that such a tour has been made possible. From their beginning at Toronto, Canada, the pair of stars has lived practically in a private car, and such glimpses of the country as they get are gleaned from the plate glass windows of the same, for the rapidity with which the trip is being pushed forward has never been equaled - not every by a presidential nominee in the heat of his campaign. From the moment of leaving New York the distance to be covered in six weeks' time was exactly 23,107 miles, or nearly equal to the distance around the globe, and thus the best record of the world girdlers pales into insignificance, for these artists stop twice nearly twenty-four hours to play at the theaters.
'Famous Distance Killers Outdone.
'Jules Verne's here, Phileas Fogg, who was supposed to have circled the globe in eighty days, would blush with envy. The late George Francis Train, who performed the same feat in sixty-one days, was hopelessly behind, and Nellie Bly, who in the interest of a New York newspaper made the same journey in sixty-nine days, is simply nowhere by comparison. If it was mere traveling there would be little that could be called extraordinary in the tour, but when it is considered that in forty days some forty cities must be visited and time found during the stay in each to appear at a theater, an opera house or a hall, and there give a performance that lasts during at least two and one-half hours, and this at the time people are accustomed to seeing such affairs, which must of necessity throw all continuous railroad schedules out of consideration as far as the artists are concerned, when, indeed, the feat become almost Herculean. In fact, in the history of American railroading, nothing like it has ever been attempted, and as for such a thing being thought of in connection with theatrical affairs it would have been laughed at a year ago as a sheer impossibility. Every part of this country, from Canada to Texas, and from Boston to the Pacific slope, is included in the schedule, so that this final appearance will cover as wide a territory as possible, for it is unlikely that either Mme. Guilbert or Mr. Chevalier will ever again be seen in similar effort.
'Yvette Guilbert's Start.
'It is now some fifteen years since Yvette Guilbert emerged from the moil and turmoil of Montmartre, the famous amusement hall in Paris, and through her talent and her versatility forced herself into a position of world prominence. With her to the polite world of the drama she brought something new and refreshing, for in place of singing the old chansons or topical songs she talked them with a musical cadence and a wealth of gesture and expression that came as a revelation to the amusement loving public.
'Within a short time her fame had spread to London and to Berlin; thence to New York, and from there over much of the world.
'A delicate, rather thin Frenchwoman, a bundle of nervous energy, with a keen appreciation of musical recitation, she created a new era in theatricals and firmly established herself therein. She sang, or rather talked, songs in a manner that no one had ever dreamed possible. She had humor, talent and a natural gift for dramatic expression, and Paris acclaimed her. Since then she has had many imitators, but none with her remarkable versatility, and the niche she created she herself filled to the exclusion of all others.
'At about the time Mme. Guilbert rose above the dramatic horizon in so spectacular a manner there was in London a young man who was thoughtfully at work upon a somewhat similar idea and who was developing it along lines of his own.
'Graduating from a small theatrical company that had toured the English provinces, Albert Chevalier began to experiment in copying "types," or characters. He had a remarkable talent for "makeup," or disguise, as practised in the theater, and to this he brought and added a subtle appreciation of sympathy as applied to human conditions.
'Early in his dramatic career he could wring tears from an audience by his tones and by his characterization. It was this faculty he proposed to make use of.
'He began to study the costermonger, that quaint type of Londoner, who, with his sayings, his mannerisms and his odd mode of life, had been the outgrowth of centuries. Mr. Chevalier found a wealth of material, both humorous and pathetic in him, and he introduced him upon the stage. A perfect furore of success met him, for he had evolved something new.
'Then gradually chevalier offered other types. The old resident of the almshouse, with his pathetic tale of shattered ambitions; the lowly working man of mature years who launched into a rhapsody of his wife, the partner of his joys and sorrows; the veteran soldier who, broken in health, had been placed in the world famous Chelsea hospital; the love sick country bumpkin, of small mentality and queer speech - all these and many more he showed and won a success equal to that of his French colaborer in a slightly different field. Who has not heard the quaint sobbing cadence of "My Old Dutch” or smiled in happy sympathy with “Knocked 'Em In the Old Kent Road?" And now he brings other oddities of character, culled by the master hand from the wealth of life's debris that litters our human shores.
'Old French Songs.
'Mme. Guilbert has gone back into the days when Mme. Pompadour was a figure at the French court and has resurrected those happy little verses that were so much a part of the French character. She has delved into the period when crinoline was on every hand and has brought forth the old songs that were the vogue. To Francis Villon she would have been a delight and a charm, for she had the very talent he found so lacking in the chanteuses of the period in which he lived.
'Mr. Chevalier brings to us a sincerity of purpose that is as great as any of the old masters who painted the very soul of things, and together they make a combination that had within it every feature of the greatest of all dramatic possibilities.'
(Frederick Tregelles, The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Sunday, 7 October 1906, p.23)