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no. 317

Saturday 11 October 2003

Ida Adams (c.1888-1960)
American actress, dancer and singer

Ida Adams

Ida Adams

(photo: Chesney Ltd, London, circa 1916)

Ida Adams's career began at New York's Knickerbocker Theatre on 27 April 1909 when she appeared as Miss Glick in The Candy Shop. In 1911 she was at the New Amsterdam, New York, in Ivan Caryll's successful musical comedy, The Pink Lady, as Desirée, a part in which she subsequently toured. For most of 1912 she played at the Moulin Rouge, New York, as Tony in A Winsome Widow, the musical based on Charles Hoyt's successful satirical comedy of 1891, A Trip to Chinatown. Others in the cast included Harry Connor, Emmy Wehlen, Leon Errol, Elizabeth Brice, Charles King, Frank Tinney, the Dolly Sisters and Mae West. Miss Adams was next seen at the same theatre from October 1912 to January 1913 in The Ziegfeld Follies of 1912 in which she shared the stage with Leon Errol, Lillian Lorraine, Vera Maxwell, Bert Williams and others. Afterwards she transferred to London where she was seen at the Hippodrome in 1915, and at the Comedy Theatre in the revue Half-Past Eight (1 May 1916) with Hugh E. Wright, Tommy Mostol, Will Evans, Dorrie Keppel, Millie Sim, Estelle Winwood, Amy Brandon-Thomas, Peggy Primrose and others. Her next appearance was at the St. Martin's Theatre, London, in Charles B. Cochran's Houp La! (23 November 1916), a comedy with music with Nat D. Ayer, Hugh E. Wright, George Graves, J.R. Tozer, Rube Welch, Gertie Millar, Daisy Burrell,Vera Neville, Valerie May, Binnie Hale, Ivy Tresmand and Madeleine Choiseuille. Ida Adams's last recorded work was at the Apollo Theatre, London, as Jane Gerson in the 'Anglo-American play,' Inside the Lines (23 May 1917), which ran for 420 performances. Eille Norwood, Frederick Ross and Grace Lane were also in the cast.

Ida Adams and Chorus

Ida Adams and chorus singing
'Oh! How She Could Yacki Hacki Wicki Wacki Woo'
in the comedy with music, Houp La!.

(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1916)

Houp La!, a comedy with music written by Fred Thompson and Hugh E. Wright, was provided with music by Nat D. Ayer and Howard Talbot, and the lyrics were by Hugh E. Wright and Percy Greenbank. It was produced by Charles B. Cochran at the St. Martin's Theatre, London, on 23 November 1916.

'Gertie Millar + George Graves + a clever company, and you have the object material of the enjoyable entertainment with which Charles B. Cochran has opened the most charmingly appointed little theatre in London. The primary object material is, of course, the vocal numbers which begin melodiously and end in the same agreeable fashion, and due credit must be given Mr. Frank Collins and Mr. J.W. Jackson for the stage production and dances.
'The story, in itself, is very slender, but as a peg it is all sufficient. Mr. George Graves is an impecunious Circus Proprietor who, in the midst of his financial difficulties makes a book on a day's racing on the cumulative principle and finds himself the possessor of a handsome little fortune at the end of the afternoon's proceedings. Alas, later on, he discovers there had been a mistake about naming the winner for the last event, and bang go the winnings.
'Miss Gertie Millar is the star "turn" [Tillie Luttrell/Tillie Runstead a.k.a. Mlle. Josephine,] of the Circus [singing 'Pretty Baby,' 'Houp La!' and 'The Fool of the Family'] and her affections are centred on Mr. Nat D. Ayer [with whom she has the duets 'You Can't Love as I Do' and 'I've Saved all My Loving for You'], a polo player of distinction, whose fancy, however, transiently wanders in the direction of a fascinating dancer [called Ada Eve] in the person of Miss Ida Adams. This brings about a dramatic little situation in the second act, in which Miss Millar appropriates her rival's cloak, to the unpleasant surprise of the peccant lover.
'A new and welcome addition to Mr. Chochran's artistic ensemble is Mlle. Madeleine Choiseuille [as Liane De Rose], who, in addition to her charming rendering of "La'Amour est Bon," provides infinite mirth in her endeavours to instruct Mr. George Graves in the intricacies of the French language.
'George Graves [as Marmaduke Bunn] is George at his best. His dialogue is rich with witticisms, which appear to spring so spontaneously from the fertile imagination, and which he utters in that inimitable manner peculiar to himself. I do not think I have ever seen him to more advantage, or happier in his immediate surroundings. Both he and Miss Gertie Millar have most happily adapted themselves to the concentrated atmosphere of the theatre, and their united efforts make a perfect blend of delightful comedy.
'Mr. Nat D. Ayer [as Peter Carey] does full justice to himself in the triple capacity of actor, vocalist and composer.'
(B.W. Findon, The Play Pictorial, no 177, vol 29, Houp La! issue, London, 1916, p.82)

In addition to the songs already mentioned, Houp La! also featured the trio 'Wonderful Girl, Wonderful Boy, Wonderful Time' written by Paul Rubens and sung by Gertie Millar, Nat D. Ayer and Ida Adams which they committed to posterity on 11 January 1917 at the Hayes, Middlesex, recording studios of The Gramophone Company Ltd (HMV label 041930). Miss Adams's hit in the show was Albert von Tilzer's 'Oh! How She Could Yacki Hacki Wicki Wacki Woo,' which she recorded on the same day (HMV 03542), and which reveals her to have been the possessor of an arresting, if somewhat unruly, contralto. This was one of a rash of so-called 'Hawaiian' songs then popular. Al Jolson, for instance, had lately recorded 'Yaaka, Hoola, Hickey Doola' (from Robinson Crusoe junior, Winter Garden, New York, 17 February 1916), for the American Columbia label (A-1956) in New York on 12 January 1916.

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