Press Clippings for the week ending
Saturday, 20 December 2008

A random selection of clippings
from newspapers and magazines

Nellie Farren, Fred Leslie,
David James et al in the burlesque,
Little Jack Sheppard,
Gaiety Theatre, London, 26 December 1885

Fred Leslie, Nellie Farren

Fred Leslie as Jonathan Wild and Nellie Farren as Jack Sheppard
in Little Jack Sheppard, Gaiety Theatre, London, 26 December 1885

(photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, 1885/86)

'An unrehearsed incident, giving rise to much laughter, occurred at the Gaiety the other night. At the commencement of Act III. Jack Sheppard is in the condemned cell, heavily ironed. Enter officer, who informs him that two visitors are without. After a little chaff Jack bids the turnkey ''show 'em' in.'' Upon the attempted exit of the latter the young lady who plays the part found to her disgust and perplexity that the door of the cell refused to open. After vainly trying for a few moments to get off she turned an appealing look to Miss Farren, who as Jack Sheppard promptly came to the rescue. The prisoner assisting to let the gaoler out was too funny, and the house roared. The door still remained firm, and at length Jack's friends had to make an entry from the side, greeted with laughter and the gag from Miss Farren, ''So you've come in the back way?'''
(Pall Mall Gazette, London, Friday, 1 January 1886, p. 5b)

'A burlesque of Jack Sheppard, produced at the Gaiety, is brighter than such productions ordinarily are. As it is presented by a company including such actors as Miss Nelly Farren, Miss Marion Hood, Mr. David James, and Mr. F. Leslie, it is received with much applause, and seems likely to bring once more into favour a class of production that had commenced, not undeservedly, to stink in the public nostrils.'
(The Anthenaeum, London, Saturday, 2 January 1886, p. 43c)

'Gaiety Theatre. - The Prince of Wales, accompanied by Prince George of Wales, was present at the Gaiety Theatre last night to witness, for the second time, the performance of Little Jack Sheppard.'
(The Times, London, Tuesday, 19 January 1886, p. 9f)

David James, Nellie Farren

David James as Blueskin and Nellie Farren as Jack Sheppard
in Little Jack Sheppard, Gaiety Theatre, London, 26 December 1885

(photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, 1885/86)

'LITTLE JACK SHEPPARD.
'That the ''sacred lamp'' has not become the light of other days, and that it glows with renewed life in Little Jack Sheppard are due chiefly to the cumulative force of the business of an excellent company of comedians. The ''book'' in itself is weak, the lines vapid, and the wit strained, as we originally pointed out on the production of Messrs H.P. Stephens and Yardley's piece at the Gaiety Theatre on Boxing Night; but, though the authors lack humorous invention, the company engaged certainly do not. Wide counsels have evidently prevailed in allowing carte blanche to Miss Farren, to Mr Fred. Leslie, and to Mr David James, to do what they like with their parts; and this clever trio, in giving rein to their notions of fun, have done what Gaiety audiences appreciate. The result is Little Jack Sheppard has scored its first ''century,'' being played for the hundredth time on Monday last to a full house. In celebration of the event Misses Marion Hood and Wadman introduced fresh ballads, Mr Cunningham Bridgman composed new lyrics, Messrs Conrath and Co. redecorated the stall corridor; and, lastly, some stress was laid upon the wearing by Miss Farren, in the second act, of ''The Premier'' diamond, the largest cut diamond in the world, ''kindly lent for this occasion by Banato Bros.'' Diamonds neither add to, nor do they diminish, the lustre of Miss Farren's talent. This lady seems to have discovered the secret of perpetual youth; for her spirits are as unquenchable now as they were twenty years ago when she made her first appearance in burlesque at the Olympic. Miss Farren has not many funny lines to say; but where there is a suspicion of a joke she can, as of yore, be relied upon to extract its full meaning. To the topical song ''You mustn't believe all you hear'' verse after verse was added on Monday evening, until the clever comédienne, with a naïve assumption of mock irritation, asserted that she knew no more. It was in the ''polyglot'' duet in the condemned cell, however, that Miss Farren made her principal hit; but here she must be bracketed with Mr Fred. Leslie, the Jonathan Wild. Both worked con amore with the happiest results, playing into each other's hands with all the loyalty of conscientious artists. Again and again did Jonathan Wild make for the door of the cell to depart; again and again did he have to return to introduce an extravagant portrayal of a national characteristic. Than Mr Leslie's burlesque caricature of the thief-taker nothing better has been seen of late years on the Gaiety or any other stage. Of broad extravagance he is a complete master. His acting, his singing, and his dancing are all in the truest spirit of travestie, while his powers of mimicry are simply extraordinary. His finger-cracking and his well-timed ''coolers,'' with showers of stage-snow taken from a snuff-box, are excessively diverting. Indeed, the scene never drags with Mr Leslie or Miss Farren on the stage, for neither is ever at a loss for droll by-play, and in this respect the gentleman is both quaint and original. Those who have seen Mr Leslie as the light-hearted Rip - and who has not? - should not omit making acquaintance with his Jonathan Wild. It will supply them with an instance of versatility, as distinct from utility, that can scarcely be surpassed. As Blueskin Mr David James's opportunities have been amplified, and his abilities given enlarged scope. His song ''The Gladstone Bag'' and eccentric dance accompanying were encored, the same reception being uproariously accorded to the old song ''Botany Bay'' in the Cave of Harmony scene. More extravagance would be permissible to Mr James. He evidently depends rather upon his powers of quiet, unforced drollery than the exaggeration of gesture or manner expected in extravaganza. His rendering of Blueskin is none the less effective on that account. Another cause of the success of Little Jack Sheppard, in addition to the combined efforts of the three principal members of the cast, is the music from the pens of Messrs Meyer Lutz, Florian Pascal, Corney Grain, Arthur Cecil, Hamilton Clarke, Henry J. Leslie, and Alfred Cellier. The sentimental portion of this is most charmingly rendered by Miss Marion Hood and Miss Wadman. The former as Winifred Wood and the latter as Thames Darrell combined in one of the prettiest numbers of the piece '''Tis only a fairy tale.'' Miss Hood besides expressively rendered the tender sentiment of the ballad ''Dear Heart;'' and Miss Wadman was heard to great advantage in Miss Hope Temple's song ''I love thee.'' The other parts receive careful attention from Mr Frank Wood as Abraham Mendez, from Mr Odell as Sir Rowland Trenchard, from Mr [Willie] Warde, who dances cleverly as Mr Kneebone, and from Mr Guise as Mr Wood. Miss Harriett Coveney, in a part scarcely worthy of her, contributes much to the general comicality of the performance; and Miss Sylvia Grey, a graceful dancer, and Miss Lizzie Wilson are pretty and fascinating representatives of Polly Stanmore and Edgeworth Bess. A number of well-drilled, smartly dressed, and attractive young ladies fill the stage from time to time during the performances as janissaries, peasants, Jacobites, bridesmaids, and soldiers, and do not fail to keep up the reputation of the Gaiety for the youth and beauty of its supernumeraries.'
(The Era, London, Saturday, 10 April 1886, p. 8e)

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Hope Booth's disastrous London debut, 1894

Hope Booth


Hope Booth (1872-1933), American actress and singer

(photo: unknown, USA, circa 1895)

'Miss Hope Booth, a relative of the late Mr Edwin Booth, who was in negotiation with Mr Hare for the use of the Garrick Theatre, eventually sublet to Mr Willard, has now secured the Royalty. She intends shortly to produce there a farcical comedy of the American variety, including songs and dances. The title of the it is Little Miss Cute.'
(The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post, Bristol, England, Saturday, 25 August 1894, p. 8f)

'On Friday night (too late for notice this week) Miss Hope Booth, an American soubrette, of the Minnie Palmer order, opens the Royalty Theatre with an American entertainment piece called Little Miss Cute.'
(The Sporting Times, London, Saturday, 15 September 1894, p. 4e)

'I fancy Little Miss 'Cute has capped the record - in matters theatrical at least. There was once a ''Single Speech Hamilton'' who built up a Parliamentary reputation on the basis of a single oration. But I doubt if there was ever - prior to the production of of Little Miss 'Cute at the Royalty on Friday week - a play the run of which was limited to a single night. It was indeed a case of ave atque vale - how d'ye do and good-bye - with (Miss) Hope Booth and her histrionic companions. If you ask me why the Royalty opened its doors on Friday only to close them on Saturday, I answer that, though the course was strange, the reason was simple. Little Miss 'Cute was, to use the favourite phrase of the lady-novelists, too ''impossible'' for endurance in a longer run. The piece is called a ''Variety Comedy,'' though melodrama would have been much nearer the mark. One of the characters shows a quite cat-like vitality as, although twice murdered, he is alive and kicking at curtain-fall. The entire play may be said to consist of a variety of incidents strung together without sequence or continuity.
'The heroine was played by Hope Booth - the lady preferred to drop the ''Miss'' before her name on the programme. This actress hails from the United States, and suffice it to say that though she essays to act, to sing, and to dance, she can at present do none of these things. She has indeed everything to learn. Some members of the company did much better, and, under more favourable circumstances, might do really well. Of the men, Mr. Gerald Spencer, Mr. Frank Fenton, and Mr. Ivan Watson, and of the ladies, Miss Violet Ambruster and Miss Italia Conti, did their utmost to save the play from its impending fate. But if they had one and all reached the counsels of perfection, the result must have remained unaltered, and the première and the dernière would still have been the same day.'
(The Country Gentleman: Sporting Gazette, Agricultural Journal, and ''The Man about Town'', London, Saturday, 22 September 1894, p. 1205c)

'NEW FARCES
'The TRAFALGAR SQUARE Theatre has reopened [on 13 September 1894] with a new three-act farce by Mr. John Tresahar, which belongs to a rather old-fashioned type in which extravagance is carried to the point of puerility. Its title is The Chinaman, and its business mainly depends upon the efforts of a young barrister to palm himself off on his aunt and patron as a Chinese mandarin and a wealthy client. Finally, the young barrister is found availing himself of the disguise to keep watching upon his wife, whose proceedings have awakened in him jealous suspicions. the part of the masquerading young barrister is played by Mr. Tresahar himself with an abandonment to its farcical spirit which, together with the sprightly acting of Miss Edith Kenward, Miss Cicely Richards, Mr. Frank Wyatt, and Miss Clara Jecks, may help to explain the favour with which this piece was received. Little Miss Cute, at the ROYALTY, may also be included under this heading, although its official classification is that of ''variety comedy.'' As it only survived for one more night the first exposure of its childish absurdity, there is no need to do more than express a hope that it may prove to be the last production of its class on our stage, and that Miss Hope Booth, to whom we are indebted, or more strictly speaking, not indebted for this American importation, may, ere she appears again, learn to correct the irritating affectations and eccentricities of her style of acting.'
(The Graphic, London, Saturday, 22 September 1894, p. 335b)

'Little Miss Cute was so cute that she didn't attempt to keep the Royalty open for more than one night. If she had only been a little cuter she would have saved herself a lot of money and me a very miserable evening. Miss Hope Booth is a merry little woman, but there is more hope about her than genius, sorry as I am to have to say it. We are all tired of the Minnie Palmer drama, especially when Minnie isn't in it.'
(Gossamer, 'Waftings from the Wings,' Fun, London, 2 October 1894, p. 139a)

'LONDON, Saturday [22 December 1894]. . .
'THE LAST OF LITTLE MISS 'CUTE.
'The last act of Little Miss 'Cute was played to a not unsympathetic audience in the Bankruptcy Court to-day. Little Miss 'Cute was the foolish play brought over from America by Miss Hope Booth, who had the intention of carrying London by storm. She brought a thousand pounds and the right to produce the play free of royalty. Its first night (at the Royalty) was also its last night. Miss Hope Booth had to confess no assets, but, as her indebtedness is only 162, this was not of much consequence. The mortifying part of the business is that the American papers had published glowing accounts of how the nobility were at the feet of Miss Hope Booth, and how men struggled to get near her with gifts of diamonds! Alas this was only a journalistic fantasy. If the diamonds had existed they would have had to appear in court to-day in the shape of assets. But we all admire Miss Hope Booth's pluck, and hope she will have better luck.'
(Western Mail, Cardiff, Wales, Monday, 24 December 1894, p. 4g)

'MISS HOPE BOOTH'S BANKRUPTCY.
'In the Court of Bankruptcy, on Wednesday, before Mr Registrar Giffard, a sitting was held for the public examination of Miss Hope Booth, formerly an actress in America, and who came to England about April, 1894. She stated, in reply to the assistant receiver (Mr E.S. Grey), that when she came to England she had 200, not 1,000 as represented in a private examination taken in the official receiver's office. That must have been somebody's mistake. Neither was it the fact, as alleged in the examination, that the objects of her visit to England was the production of the play Miss Miss Cute. She came for a holiday. She did produce Little Miss Cute at the Royalty Theatre, and formed a company for the purpose, but the piece proved a failure, and was only played one night. She afterwards returned to America, and it was not the fact that she was possessed of some valuable diamonds. She had none, and wished she had.
'Mr D.N. Pollock appeared for the bankrupt, and Mr Warburton on behalf of the Actors' Association, representing certain professional creditors.
'On further examination, the bankrupt said her manager was recommended to her by Mr Hare, and she was given to understand that Little Miss Cute would probably succeed. The manager refused, however, to ring up the curtain after the first night. She regretted that the company had had the trouble of a three weeks rehearsal without remuneration, but could not help it. She took no money back with her to America, her passage expenses being paid by her family when she arrived. Her recent expenses at the Hotel Victoria had been paid by friends. She had been an actress in America for some years - since she was a little girl.
'The examination was adjourned pro forma for the amendment of the accounts.'
(The Era, London, Saturday, 26 January 1895, p. 13d)

* * * * * * * *

Go-Bang on tour at the
Theatre Metropole, Camberwell,
week beginning Monday, 11 March 1895

Go-Bang


detail of the Theatre Metropole programme
for Go-Bang, week beginning Monday, 11 March 1895

(printed by the Free Press Co, 429 Brixton Road, London, S.E., 1895)

Theatre Metropole, Camberwell, south London
'On Monday, March 11th [1895], the Musical Farcical Comedy, by Adrian Ross and Osmond Carr, entitled GO-BANG. . . .
'This merry, musical piece, which was originally played at the Trafalgar on March 10th last year, was reproduced at Mr Mulholland's Theatre on Monday evening, and, judging by the reception accorded it, Go-Bang is likely to meet with much success on its provincial travels. The piece had all the advantages of being represented by a thoroughly competent company, and in regard to the important accessories of dresses, appointments, and scenery, everything had been done to ensure a performance in which no weak point could possibly be detected. Mr Victor Stephens [sic] as Dam Row, the eccentric Bojam elect of Go-Bang, invested the part with that quaint and apparently spontaneous humour by which had has earned a high reputation in the world of burlesque. His singing was always acceptable, and in every scene in which he appeared successfully co-operated with his fellow players in the pleasant task of exciting the hearty merriment of the audience. Mr Edward W. Colman seemed to positively revel in the rôle of Jenkins, the greengrocer, who for a time bears the burdens which devolve upon a rule. His performance throughout was an undeniably funny one, and the value of his services cannot be over-estimated. Mr Arthur P. Soutten, taking Mr George Grossmith, jun., as his model, made much comic capital out of the part of the Hon. Augustus Fitzpoop. His peculiar laugh and oddities of appearance and manner had their intended effect, and his Fitzpoop was a distinct hit. Mr Guy Waller as Narain, the secretary who eventually ascends the throne, evinced the possession of an excellent voice, and did justice to the musical numbers entrusted to him. Mr John Lisbourne, who appeared as Wang, distinguished himself by his nimble dancing, and Mr Alexander Loftus was fully equal to the requirements of the rôle of Sir Reddan Tapeleigh. Miss Alice Brookes was as winsome and dainty a representative of Di Dalrymple as could be wished, and her high spirits and vivacity were important factors in gaining for her the favour of the audience. The popular ''Di, Di, Di,'' proved to be one of the most taking songs of the evening, and was loudly redemanded. Her dancing was also greatly admired and heartily applauded. Miss Edith Stuart both looked well and did well as Lady Fritterleigh, and Miss Lottie Brookes was a pleasing Helen Tapeleigh. Miss Violet Irving made a coquettish Sarah Anne, and Lady Fritterleigh's sisters were charmingly impersonated by the Misses Winnie Leon, Edith Denton, and Evreton Eyre. The chorus was composed of a number of attractive young ladies, who sang with precision and danced in graceful style.'
(The Era, London, Saturday, 16 March 1895, p. 9c)

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