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?'

Gabrielle Ray – The Little Cherub – The Westminster Gazette – Monday 15th January 1906


 

PRINCE OF WALES’S THEATRE: “THE LITTLE CHERUB.”

 

The authors of the latest Prince of Wales’s piece, produced on Saturday under the title of “The Little Cherub” (book by Owen Hall, lyrics by Adrian Ross, and music by Ivan Caryll), acknowledge partial indebtedness to Meilhac’s “Decore,” but one must hold Mr. Owen Hall mainly responsible for this “musical play” as it stands, which, though not bad of its kind, would decidedly bear emendation in certain respects. For a beginning, of course, the piece is at present absurdly long. When the management changed the hour of commencement from 8.15 to 8 o’clock they acted wisely, but if they had made it 7 or 7.30 they would have been wiser still. As it was, Sunday morning was close at hand before we were released on Saturday, and the tokens of dissatisfaction which mingled with the cheering at the fall of the curtain were doubtless to a considerable extent connected with that circumstance. But this was certainly not the only cause. Much earlier in the evening symptoms of a critical spirit had declared themselves up aloft, and the wag in the gallery who took up Miss Evie Greene’s line “Let’s revive the piece” with a fervent “Hear, hear!” achieved thereby one of the happiest hits of the evening.

Yet there is no gainsaying the excellence of the material at the author’s command. Mr. Fred Kaye, for one, is an old favourite with musical comedy audiences, and he certainly makes the most of the comparatively limited opportunities which he is at present afforded. With his queer walk, his raucous voice, and dry staccato utterance, he cuts a diverting figure as the puritanical peer who, after chiding his daughters in the first act for getting up private theatricals, is discovered in the second entertaining a party of actresses at supper. Then Mr. Maurice Farkoa is another old favourite whose accomplishments are known to all. As the Rajah of Talcutta one had hopes at first of his breaking fresh ground and appearing for once in a way in a new guise. But, of course, it was quite a mistake to suppose that the canons of musical comedy could be so far outraged as to permit of a popular performer appearing in any part but that in which he has always been seen before. Man changes his sky, but not his soul; and so this Indian Rajah, in the choicest garb of Savile-row, with his delightful French accent and his Whistlerian white forelock, is an old friend under a new name who might have come straight from, let us say, a ballad concert platform. But under whatever name he appears, Mr. Farkoa is always a finished artist, and though he is probably as tired of playing the perpetual lady-killer as we are of seeing him in the part, he certainly does as much as anyone could to make it tolerable. He has many songs, all of precisely the same type, of which the most elaborate is one which sets forth, with pantomimic aid from various ladies of the chorus, the charms and characteristics of “The Supper Girl.” He also has a duet, which found a fair amount of favour, entitled “Pearls,” with Miss Evie Greene, who should have been mentioned earlier by rights, seeing that she was manifestly the main attraction of the piece for most. This was Miss Greene’s first appearance in London since her recent return from abroad, and her reception was a thing to remember. Her part also will doubtless undergo development and improvement in due course. As Miss Molly Montrose, the famous actress, she is called in to assist at the private theatricals of the Earl of Sanctobury’s skittish daughters, and ends, of course, by capturing the affections of their straight-laced sire. Miss Greene looks very handsome, and in her own characteristic style – which, it a little rough at times, is in grateful contrast to the more conventional methods of the average leading lady – does all that can reasonably be expected with the part. Her principal song – a curious ditty entitled “Experience,” in the style more of an old-fashioned ballad than of the ordinary musical-comedy kind of thing – was very well received, and will no doubt go even better a little later.

Of the other ladies the most important are the aforesaid daughters of the Earl of Sanctobury – a quartet of lively damsels, represented by Miss Zena Dare, Miss Gabrielle Ray, Miss Lily Elsie, and Miss Grace Pindar – who take in the kindliest possible manner to the high-kicking requirements of their theatricals, though their manners in general could hardly be said to proclaim the caste of Vere de Vere. Among other items, they have a rather original quartet, in which they lament the sports and pleasures denied them by their sex, which quite brought down the house, especially when Miss Gabrielle Ray, by a well-directed kick, sent a football, used to illustrate the final verse, into one of the stage-boxes. Miss Ray it was, too, who, in the attire of a Cupid, scored again later with a song and chorus “Cupid’s Rifle Range.” This, indeed – the music of which is by Mr. Frank Tours – is one of the prettiest numbers in the piece, a celesta being used in the orchestra with charming effect. The only other lady of the company who gets anything particular to do is Miss Elise Clare, as a skittish chambermaid, whose duet and dance with Mr. George Carroll, as a diminutive waiter who might pass as twin brother to Little Tich, was one of the very best things in the second act. One only regretted, indeed, that such amusing performers had not more to do. Mr. Carroll especially was infinitely entertaining whenever he got half a chance, and his part might well be elaborated. Another who does a good deal without much help from the author is Mr. Lennox Pawle as Algernon Southdown, an aristocratic stage manager of the “Johnny” type, while yet another is Mr. W. H. Berry as Lord Sanctobury’s valet, Shingle, whose songs went down as well as any. The political allusions of one of them were, however, ill-advised, as the manifestations from the gallery, and the cries of “No politics” quickly indicated. When will your musical comedy librettist grasp the elementary fact that political references are out of place on these occasions? Generally, however, it may be said that Mr. Ross’s lyrics serve their purpose well enough. As to Mr. Caryll’s music, it is of the kind which this facile composer has provided many, many times before. Indeed, the resemblance is so marked in one or two cases that if the composer were not pilfering from himself a charge of plagiarism would almost lie. But no one is likely to think any the worse of this song or that because it happens to be more or less like that one or this which they have enjoyed before. The piece has been most tastefully and lavishly mounted, and though, as it has been noted, a certain amount of good-natured booing mingled with the applause at the close, there need be little doubt as to its ultimate success.

 

The Westminster Gazette – Monday 15th January 1906

 

March 5, 2020 - Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Social History, The Little Cherub, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , ,

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