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 Orchid – The Graphic – Saturday 31st October 1903

As early as five o’clock in the morning one man took up his stand outside the gallery. At six was joined by others, and, as the morning wore on, the little crowd grew, till by half-past nine it numbered some twenty or thirty. Many messenger boys were engaged to keep the places of those first-nighters who could not spare the time themselves. In the afternoon there was a heavy shower, which did not add to the comfort of the patient crowd. Our photograph was supplied by Bolak






“The Orchid”


THE task of getting to the GAIETY Theatre through the rattling showers and flooded streets of Monday evening was a little difficult, but in all else the stately and luxurious new playhouse which Mr. George Edwardes has caused to be erected hard by the site of its now vanished predecessor and namesake, may be said to have commenced its career under the happiest auspices. The management, as the reader is aware, stand by the traditions of the house, within whose walls the old-fashioned formless “burlesque” passed, by a regular process of evolution, into the combination of farce and dancing, music and story, which is now known by the not very distinctive description of “musical play.”

Mr. Edwardes has once more invoked the aid of half a dozen practised hands; it is, in fact, the permanent staff – Mr. J. T. Tanner furnishing the book, with the exception of the lyrics, which are supplied by Mr. Adrian Ross and Mr. Percy Greenback, while Mr. Ivan Caryll and Mr. Lionel Monckton have composed the music, and Mr. Paul Rubens has contributed “additional numbers.” Mr. Tanner has on this occasion gone further afield than usual in search of his leading motive. Mr. Tanner has handled the idea of orchid-worship in his own way, subdued it to his humorous purposes, and interwoven it with a double, or rather triple, love story, which is found capable of giving rise to many diverting situations. I do not, of course, propose to follow in any detail the windings of The Orchid, the first act of which passes in this country in the grounds of the Countess of Barwick’s Horticultural College, while the second act carries us away, together with the chief part of the personages of the piece, to the Place Massena and the Grand Opera House at Nice in carnival time – scenes that were received with enthusiastic applause. Both time and space, indeed, would fail to tell, even in outline, why Mr. Aubrey Chesterton, our Minister of Commerce, is bound under the terms of a wager to procure a certain precious orchid and deliver it in Paris by an appointed date or how, with this object in view, he is fain to enlist the services of his scapegrace nephew, the Honorable Guy Scrymgeour; not to speak of Zaccary, a professional orchid hunter, whose, happy hunting-ground is in the fields of far Peru; or how the precious plant – which, by the way, seems to be capable of surviving much ill-usage – falls, on and off, into the hands of Meakin, the quaint little gardener of the Horticultural College. Still less easy would it be to explain how the whirl of events arising from this datum is associated with a clandestine marriage at the local Registrar’s between Scrymgeour and Miss Zaccary, a pupil-teacher at the College, simultaneously with the union, before the same functionary, of Scrymgeour’s impecunious young medical friend Fausset with the sprightly and bewitching Lady Violet Annstruther. Yet another engaged couple appears in the forefront of these erratic proceedings, for little Meakin, in a captivating disguise, has wooed the vulgar, wealthy, good-natured Caroline Twining, and is only waiting for the expected pecuniary fruits of the “orchid hunt” to claim his bride. Such are a few indications of the story, for which the composers have written clever songs and tuneful music.

The piece is supported by the whole strength of the GAIETY company. Miss Gertie Millar has not hitherto been seen to so much advantage as in the part of Lady Violet. Her song, “Please Inquire of Little Mary,” was among the most notable successes of the evening. Mr. Edmund Payne’s Meakin had the merit of improving as the piece developed. His tramp duet with Mr. George Grossmith junior, who played Scrymgeour with much comic force, is among the happiest of the humorous episodes but Mr. Payne’s peculiar vein of drollery found, perhaps, its best expression in the mock duel with the Count de Cassignat, which forcibly recalled the exploits of Mr. Acres in King’s Mead Fields. That great favourite of Gaiety audiences, Miss Connie Ediss, who plays Caroline Twining, is specially fortunate in her songs – notably in her mock sentimental duet, “Life is an Omelette,” with Mr. Payne. Miss Ethel Sydney’s refined singing and dancing in the part of Josephine Zaccary also contribute much to the success of the piece.

The Graphic – Saturday 31st October 1903


September 10, 2020 - Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Social History, The Gaiety Theatre, The Orchid, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , ,

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