Celebrity for the week ending
Saturday, 31 October 2009

Ada Reeve (1876-1966),
English actress and singer,
on a return visit to the London Coliseum, 27 September 1915,
after a tour of South Africa and Australia during 1913 and 1914

Ada Reeve as Jack
Ada Reeve as the principal boy in the pantomime,
Jack and the Beanstalk,
Shakespeare Theatre, Liverpool, Christmas 1908

(photo: C Co, Liverpool, 1908)

London Coliseum, 27 September 1915
'Miss Ada Reeve has returned to the Coliseum - a fact that was intensified on Monday by two enthusiastic and crowded houses. One again the London public can enjoy the delightful experience of hearing a really gifted comedienne interpret a song so fully, completely, and with such an absolute command of every shade of expression that each phrase vividly stands out. In the case of the diseuse it often happens that the music is sacrificed to the words, and the art of the composer, which has been welded with that of the poet, loses its significance. But Ada Reeve has the gift - rare on any stage - of giving out the tune with a richness and volume of tone, and at the same time revealing the pathos or humour of the words. There was a touch of raillery in her opening number, "Ladies, beware" [Miss Reeve recorded this song for HMV twice in 1915, but both versions were rejected and never issued], which hardly prepared her audience of Monday afternoon for the depth of pathos she revealed in "Lonely," a song burdened with unavailing regret, and rendered with a sweet melancholy that touched all hearts. The dreaminess and charm of "My Oriental girl" were in vivid contrast to the banter and sarcasm of "Foolish questions" (HMV B-523, mx HO-1806ae, recorded Hayes, near London, 16 September 1915; 3mb mp3), which in its turn yielded pride of place to the domestic sentiment of "Jim," the exquisite little monologue of a coster's wife who talks to her baby. The cheering audience was too insistent to let Miss Reeve depart, even after five songs, and she obliged with a sixth, singing before the "tabs" "The girl I left behind," which made a special appeal to the large number of Tommies in front. The distinguished artiste has returned to London in the full possession of her powers, and her popularity was never greater.'
(The Era, London, Wednesday, 29 September 1915, p.14d)

Ada Reeve

Ada Reeve as she appeared
at the Alhambra, Leicester Square, London, December 1908

(caricature by Max Lowe, 1908)

For an Efftee short film made in Melbourne in 1932 of Ada Reeve in brilliant form singing 'I Never Forget I'm a Lady,' with orchestral accompaniment conducted by Harry Jacobs, see YouTube, courtesy of Graham Hoadly.

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© John Culme, 2009