Gabrielle Ray

'Gabrielle Ray said, 'I am always dancing; I love it! When I don't dance, I sing. What else is there to do?'

The Ghosts of Daly’s – The Argus – 1937


The Ghosts of Daly’s

Daly's Theatre - The Argus - Monday 5th July 1937

The Ghosts of Daly’s

 Memories of a Doomed Theatre

 

“Good – bye, Leicester Square!” sang the soldiers as they marched to War. They little knew how prophetic the words were. Nov. 23 years later, the wreckers are pulling down Daly’s Theatre, the great home of musical plays which overlooked the square, and a “super-cinema” will rise brazenly from tis crumbled ruins The Alhambra, the famous music hall close by, has been demolished to make room for a new theatre and the Empire next door, where Adeline Geene and Hayden Coffin first charmed London, has been replaced by a cinema The face of the square so familiar to our soldiers has been changed completely.

GHOSTS of the “naughty nineties’ and gay Edwardian days haunt the memory A “Daly’s piece” connoted all that was best and refined in light entertainment. It meant lovely Viennese music, gracious actresses, theatrical epigrams, and tunes that were whistled round the world. Actors and actresses were idolised by millions, fashionable young blades saw the shows so many times that they knew the songs and the libretti by heart, and a play which did not enjoy a run of l8 months was considered a failure.

Daly’s Theatre was built in 1893 for the famous American theatre manager, Augustin Daly, but it did not succeed until George Edwardes took over the lease and produced there musical plays built on the Gaiety model. The first was “The Gaiety Girl” (transferred from the Prince of Wales Theatre) The composer of its music, Sidney Jones, leaped to fame when he was aged only 22 years with a song whose captivating lines were soon being heard in every home and at every street corner in the Empire –

Linger longer Lucy, Linger longer Loo,

How I long to linger longer

Lucy, ‘long o’ you.

Sidney Jones became the hero of the hour. His most celebrated piece, ‘The Geisha Girl,” ran for two and a quarter years at Daly’s, and ‘The Greek Slave” and “San Toy” enhanced the profits of the new famous house. He was succeeded by Lionel Monckton, whose melodious piece, “The Country Girl,” carried on the tradition, and Paul Rubens, who reached the zenith of his career with “Miss Hook of Holland.” Monckton married the actress Gertie Millar, who, upon his death, became the wife of Lord Dudley, a former Governor-General of Australia, and Rubens, who died in his early forties, left his entire fortune to the actress Phyllis Dare, to whom he had been engaged

“The Merry Widow”

In 1905 Daly’s swept London with a series of Viennese waltz operas, among them “The Merry Widow” (which ran for two and a quarter years), “The Dollar Princess,” “The Waltz Dream,” The Count of Luxembourg”  and “Gipsy Love” The Hungarian composer, Lehar, became the rage of London. Then followed “The Maid of the Mountains,” with Jose Collins (which ran from February, 1916, to May, 1920). “The Southern Maid,” “Sybil,” “The Lady of the Rose,” “The Street Singer,” “Madame Pompadou” and “Katja,” (1926).

In the 42 years during which the theatre has been devoted exclusively to musical productions the original runs of its musical plays have average more than a year each easily a record for any theatre in Europe or America.

The house has been the home of many famous players Ada Rehan the great American actress, appeared there in the early ‘nineties. So did Violet Vanbrugh, Marie Tempest, Arthur Bourchier and the Duse. Eleanora Duse and Sarah Bernhardt played there in “La Dame aux Camellias.” The later period of operetta saw such popular actresses as Ethel Irving, Gertie Millar, Evie Greene, Isabel Jay, Nellie Farren, Lily Elsie, Evelyn Laye, and Lillian Davies.

Trousers or Trunks?

MISS TEMPESTS appearances at Daly s have become part of theatrical history, for it was in that home of operetta that she severed her association with musical comedy. After singing in “An Artists Model” and “The Greek Slave” she quarrelled with George Edwardes because he insisted upon her wearing a pair of shapeless long trousers in “San Toy.” She cut them short, whereupon the enraged Edwardes delivered an ultimatum, “Wear the trousers or go.” Miss Tempest went. The dispute was jocularly summarised in legal language as “Trunks versus Trousers -Tempest non-suited.”

Another celebrated quarrel associated with this theatre was the homerlc dispute between Augustin Daly and George Bernard Shaw. In an effort to “popularise” Shakespeare’s plays Daly cut the text unmercifully and transposed sections from one play to another. A man who could take liberties with Shakespeare was anathema to Shaw, who fought Daly with a polemic savagery seldom equalled.

With the passing of Daly’s will disappear, presumably, the sculptured relief’s which adorn the celling and the ledges of the circle. They are among the most beautiful examples of the work of Alfred Gilbert.

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February 1, 2014 - Posted by | Actress, Daly's Theatre, Gabrielle Ray, Social History, Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

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