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 Dollar Princess – The Tatler – Wednesday 6th October 1909


 “The Merry Widow” –

AS long as The Merry Widow was running the ‘”creature” and I were a divided couple. She considered it the most fascinating piece she had ever seen. The acting, the music, and the whole ensemble were to her perfection. For myself there was hardly a part of it – the famous waltz included – that did not leave me cold and critical. Now happily our differences in appreciation have come to an end. We have both at last discovered a piece for which we possess mutual enthusiasm. Its name is The Dollar Princess and it was performed for the first time in London at Daly’s Theatre last week.

And her Predecessor.

Few first nights are so really enjoyable as those at Daly’s Theatre. Few there are which bring together a smarter or more brilliant audience. The “creature” looked positively dazzling in her best frock with her hair done round in the now fashionable bandage that its devotees fondly believe to be Grecian but which in reality looks like nothing more becoming than a headache plaster. The enthusiasm everybody who was anybody received from the hands of the gods and those in the nethermost pit must have been most gratifying to them if a trifle embarrassing. Miss Marie Tempest came in for a goodly share and so did Gertie Millar, while as if to accentuate the hollowness of public praise Miss Edna May, that favourite of such a short time ago, was allowed to enter and disappear without a murmur of welcome. And if every actor and actress of note got their round of applause as they entered the auditorium how much more enthusiastic was the cheering that greeted the performers on the stage. No queen could have received a greater ovation than did Miss Lily Elsie when she made her first appearance coming down the marble staircase of Mr. Harry Conder’s house in New York, while as for the cheering which greeted Mr. Joseph Coyne it was perfectly delirious. Throwing her decorum to the winds as it were the “creature” clapped with the wildest of them. The consequence is that she retired at night with about two fingers and a black-looking rag to take the place of what were once long white suede gloves at but hush, we are not at Selfridges’s.

Plenty of Go.

The Dollar Princess has had the advantage of being previously produced at Manchester before making its bow to London audiences. This has doubtless eliminated a good deal of that superfluous matter which even now still protrudes itself from time to time. It has also enabled Mr. George Edwardes to elaborate those more delightful portions which as they now stand seem incapable of further improvement. All these things prove of an enormous advantage on a “first night.” It is also the exception where musical comedy is concerned. The first act of The Dollar Princess went as well the other evening as it will probably ever go. There was not a hitch anywhere, and it was played by the company with a swing and a verve that was perfectly enchanting. It is, moreover, the best act of the three, and in it Mr. Robert Michaelis, comparatively unknown to Londoners until then, made a very great success. It will probably enable him to remain in the metropolis for the rest of his theatrical career. He has a good stage presence, a fine baritone voice, sings and acts artistically, and if he will but guard against certain mannerisms and affectations somewhat reminiscent of Hayden Coffin will speedily develop into a really first-class artist.

The Story.

The story of The Dollar Princess is quite original enough and far more amusing than that of the average musical comedy. The first act, for which Mr. George Edwardes has provided a perfectly magnificent setting, takes place in Conder’s house in New York. The owner of it is a multimillionaire with a partiality for engaging impoverished members of the British aristocracy as his menials. Over this household rules Alice (Miss Lily Elsie), Conder’s sister, who it may be remarked does so with the proverbial rod of iron. There is not one of her associates who can come near her in prettiness, but she is as wilful as she is charming. She likes to domineer over these aristocrats which her money has brought so low; thus she is all the more astonished when one arrives who for rudeness can beat her at her own game as it were. Nevertheless, in order to tame him she engages him as her secretary. But the task she sets herself is too difficult for her. After falling violently in love with him as he, by the way, has done with her she makes her brother insist upon him marrying her. But her victim only laughs at the idea. He will have nothing to do with a girl who believes that money and money only will gratify every desire in life.


This decision of his brings us up to the great denouement at the end of the second act, when Alice, baffled, heart-broken, and in despair, seizes hold of another man, dances wildly with him, and at length falls fainting and sobbing into her brother’s arms. It is a scene some what reminiscent of A Waltz Dream, but it is very effective nevertheless, and offers Miss Lily Elsie a moment of highly emotional acting which positively electrified the house. Indeed, Miss Elsie has never done anything half so good as her Dollar Princess.

The Company.

Of course all ends happily at last as is only right. Alice and her secretary pair off together, as do her brother, Harry Conder, with Olga, the lion-tamer, and her cousin Daisy with the Earl of Quorn. Mr. Joseph Coyne as the afore said brother is as airy, as debonair, and as delightful as ever he was as Prince Danilo, and none ol his countless admirers could wish for more. There is no more fascinating light comedian in London. Miss Emmy Wehlen as the lion-taming lady sings nicely, acts well, but by no manner of means looks the part. Mr. W. H. Berry was very funny indeed as Bulger, a confidential clerk to Conder, and Miss Gabrielle Ray, though she had too much to sing and too little to dance, was dainty. The dresses and scenery are among the loveliest that London has ever seen. The music is very charming and the orchestration quite masterly.

The Tatler – Wednesday 6th October 1909



March 3, 2023 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Dollar Princess, The Tatler, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment