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Footlight Notes Collection Picture Archive - request for use of images

no. 391

Saturday, 19 March 2005

Lupino Lane, Nellie Wallace, Elsie Prince
and Phyllis Dare as Princess Badr-al-budur in
Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp,
London Hippodrome, 21 December 1920

Aladdin, London Hippodrome, 1920

programme cover from original artwork by Hugh Willoughby
for Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, London Hippodrome, 21 December 1920

Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, a pantomime written by Lauri Wyle and F. Maxwell-Stewart, with lyrics by Clifford Harris, 'Valentine' and Donovan Parsons, and music composed, selected and arranged by James W. Tate, with music under the direction of Julian Jones, was produced at the London Hippodrome for the Christmas season of 1920. The leading parts were played by Lupino Lane (Pekoe), Nellie Wallace (The Widow Twankey), Elsie Prince (Aladdin), and Phyllis Dare (Princess Badr-al-budur). Miss Dare's part was played at matinees by Gertrude Lawrence. Special features of the pantomime included The Curtain of Diamonds in Scene 6 ('The Garden of Jewels'), composed of 100,000 glass lustres and six miles of wire; the 'Squelch' wringing machine in Scene 7 ('Widow Twankey's Laundry'), invented by David Devant; the Picture-Blocks in Scene 10 ('Courtyard of Aladdin's Magical Palace'), designed by H.M. Bateman; and Lupino Lane's old-fashioned Star-Trap Act in Scene 12 ('The Great Wall of Pekin'), in which he performed 74 traps in six minutes.

Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp closed after 184 performances on 10 April 1921.

Elsie Prince

Elsie Prince (b. 1902), English actress and singer

(photo: Dobson, Liverpool, circa 1922)

'For 10 years revue has reigned supreme at the London Hippodrome. Now, for a spell, pantomime is to take its place, though it is evident that the scale of production is to be no less elaborate. For, just as the Hippodrome used to aim at super-revues, so Aladdin can fairly claim to be a super-pantomime.
'The intention of the producers, we imagine, has been to give us a spectacular and as musical an entertainment as the most critical observer could ask for, remembering at the same time that Aladdin is above everything else a pantomime. There are moments when the Hippodrome production very nearly reverts to pantomime as we knew it in our younger days, despite all the elaboration that has been grafted on to it. There are clown and harlequin to set the ball rolling, there is a real old-fashioned trap act by Mr. Lupino Lane - for whom it is claimed that he performs 74 "traps" in six minutes. We do not dispute the figures. To a breathless audience it seemed more like seven hundred; to an exhausted performer it must have seemed like thousands.
'There is the inevitable pantomime dame, but on this occasion genuinely funny one, because she is played by Miss Nellie Wallace, who works harder than some comedians would deign to do. Her energy is tremendous, and her work is vastly diverting, with the result that no better foil could be imagined for Mr. Lupino Lane, who seems now to be an even better comedian than when he went to the United States. Then there is the real old-time transformation scene, which ends with a dazzling curtain of diamonds, and there is a bewitching Princess Badr-al-budur in the person of Miss Phyllis Dare. Of late Miss Dare has made great strides. She now sings beautifully and dances with the utmost grace. At first sight it may seem that an artist of her ability is wasted on pantomime. As a matter of fact, her work brings the production up to a high level which it might not otherwise attain, and aided by Elsie Prince, a young actress of considerable promise, as Aladdin, she ensure that one of the oldest love stories in the world shall not be lost to sight amid all the other attractions which the Hippodrome has to offer.
'There are half a dozen scenes in Aladdin which offer a perfect riot of Eastern colourings, but few of them are more effective than those showing the change from the dismal depths of the cave to the brilliant spectacle of the garden of jewels, and at a later stage the disappearance of the magical palace, a wondrous building in yellow and black, into thin air. This, in fact, is one of the most effective incidents of the whole evening. At one moment the palace stands brilliantly illuminated; at the next there is nothing to be seen but the arid desert. There is a popular fiction that grown-ups only go to the pantomime because they want to give the youngsters a treat. We think that it will be found that the Hippodrome production will continue to be popular long after all the children have returned to school, for the simple reason that it provides at the same time the joys of an old-fashioned pantomime and the glories of the most up-to-date revue.'
(The Times, London, Wednesday, 22 December 1920, p.8b)

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