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 – Peggy – Graphic – Saturday 11th March 1911



The Gaiety is an institution which has no twin in the other theatres of London. Just as some play houses are supposed to be “unlucky,” the Gaiety seems unable to make a failure, even when it is largely deserved. This explains the true meaning of the “notices” on “Peggy,” produced from a French original to Mr. Leslie Stuart’s music last Saturday. It is not a lively adventure by any means – a view which was pretty frankly expressed by various “boos” at the fall of the curtain. The professional critics felt distinctly bored; but, distrusting their own emotions as an index, in view of similar boredom on first night productions of the past which have subsequently run into hundreds of nights of crowded houses, they suppress their personal weariness in the conviction that Mr. Edwardes will “pull the thing together,” as a conjurer picks sovereigns from your empty pocket.

On the present occasion, however, he will have a task of unusual difficulty, because, however much he may brighten and lighten the subject matter of the entertainment, his performers are strangely lacking in the personality that has stood him in good stead in the past. There is much to laugh at in Mr. Edmund Payne, who figures as a hotel hair dresser engaged to a lady like manicurist (Miss Phyllis Dare), who is deeply attached to him goodness knows why. On the other hand, Mr. George Grossmith, the adaptor of “Peggy,” has allotted himself (as an impecunious “swell” a very poor part, while with the exception of Miss Gabrielle Ray, as a vaudeville artist, Polly Polino, who, in the long run, annexes the barber, not a single woman in the cast is to be compared with such a personality as Nellie Farren or Letty I.ind, or Connie Ediss, or Gertie Millar. There are, of course, the same troop of pretty girls in fascinating frocks, but all of them, except Miss Ray, are colourless. Miss Phyllis Dare, whose preceding “and” on the programme proclaims her the star in the mind of the manager, has improved greatly of late, and looks very pretty. She does her work quite efficiently, but she seems to do it with a good deal of effort, and with in sufficient spontaneity which is the essence of comedy.

Miss Olive May, with the best of the songs, “The Lass with a Lasso,” is deficient in the same direction. Miss Gabrielle Ray has many disadvantages. Her voice is of the childish piccolo order she does not attempt to act in the forceful way of the old comediennes, but she possesses – perhaps she could not tell you how or why – a certain authority, which makes her fill the stage when she is on it and get “across the footlights.”

Mr. Stuart’s music is thoroughly characteristic. Since he wrote the continuous rhythmic melodious type of musical comment to “Florodora,” he has developed more and more on these lines, either writing his own words or getting a lyrist to write something to suit the music in contradistinction to the old style which made the music suit the words. It would be impossible to read them, but they arc effective as sung. One real novelty, however, is the introduction of little boys, to which, I believe, we are originally indebted to Mr. Hicks – or was it to Mr. Royce, who has produced “Peggy”? The little fellow who dances the “lasso” song with Miss Ray is a genuine find.

For the rest, “Peggy” is gorgeously dressed. Mr. Edwardes has included the much-discussed harem skirt, but he has also been true to the British traditions of the Gaiety by engaging Mr. Comelli to design a gown on more gracious fines, the hobble giving way to a fuller skirt.

‘The harem skirt is not the only Eastern fashion of the moment, for in addition to a tentative performance of a morality play about Jacob and Esau at the Little Theatre, we are having a sort of aftermath of Salome -isms, which have been given additional life by the recent production of Mr. Wilde’s strange play at the Court Theatre, with Miss Adeline Bourne as Salome. At the Palladium a Miss Sackville West is giving Oriental dances, while the Hippodrome has acquired an actual Eastern in the person of Sahary Djeli, and the wonderful “Sumurun” has introduced Coliseum audiences to the whole atmosphere of the Arabian Nights.

The curious part of it all is that the disciples of this new school of dancing have come from the West and not the East, for it is America which has produced the best exponents – Miss Isadora Duncan, Miss Loie Fuller, Miss Ruth St. Denys (of snake dance fame), and Miss Maud Allan, to all of whom Sahary Djeli owes a good deal. And she is not the only dancer so affected, for the Russian ballet-dancers who burst on Paris last year as a perfect revelation, and who are shortly to be seen at Covent Garden, have grafted on to their purely gymnastic technique much of that interpretative power which turned the old primitive alphabet of conventional ballet into a language – to be seen at this moment in its perfection in Miss Maud Allan’s art at the Palace. Enormous advance has indeed been made in the cultivation of dancing as a mode of expression since those days when the clog dancers, and still later the twinkling feet of the Gaiety, exhausted our conceptions of the dance.

It is not only in this branch of art that we have advanced. By staging Miss Johanna Redmond’s playlet, “Falsely True,” a story of the Emmctt rebellion, the Palace has taken a step that would have been absolutely impossible, say, twenty years ago, when our idea of the Irishman went no farther than the comic man. “Falsely True” is a brilliant little play, because it fits into its place at the Palace, and is not merely an item stuck empirically into the programme.





The Elizabethan Stage Society on Monday gave at the Little Theatre a matinee of “Jacob and Esau,” an interlude dating from 1568. It is one of the most curious and interesting of the latter “Morality” plays, and has never been seen on the stage since it was first acted, probably in the reign of Queen Mary. The costumes worn by the characters were reproduced exactly from Rembrandt drawings, and the stage lighting was arranged to give a “Rembrandt” effect.


The Graphic – Saturday 11th  March 1911



March 10, 2023 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Peggy, Social History, The Gaiety Theatre, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment