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 Bystander – Wednesday 6th October 1909

 

LONDON NIGHTS ENTERTAINMENTS 

 

BY “JINGLE” WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY NORMAN MORROW

 

“THE DOLLAR PRINCESS” AT DALY’S THEATRE

 

THE subject of money is always a very fascinating one to people like myself, who know no more of it than we read about in books or see in plays. Now and again you meet a man who has some money, or, at least, knows someone who once saw some of it; but these are rare occasions nowadays. Perhaps that is why the atmosphere of The Dollar Princess is so refreshing. Not only do the various scenes suggest wealth in really reckless quantities, but I have read a paragraph in a paper to the effect that the production itself cost no less than ten thousand pounds. I had no idea there was all that money left in the country.

IT is generally admitted that one of the most difficult things in the world is to repeat a success, and Mr. George Edwardes must have had to look about him with a very wary eye when the time came to replace The Merry Widow with an attraction that would be equally successful but, after having seen The Dollar Princess, it seems to me that his eye might have been a trifle warier with advantage. For now that what Mr. Kipling calls the “tumult and the shouting” have faded away, and we have had the leisure to reflect upon what can be done with ten thousand pounds, it really seems to me that Mr. Edwardes ought to have got a little more for his money. I quite understand that the bare suggestion of such a thing is rank heresy to the third power, but with that yearning for truth which is the undoing of all great reformers, I am compelled to say that The Dollar Princess impressed me as being a very ordinary musical comedy, distinguished from the average only by the very high quality of the musical part. In coming to this conclusion 1 feel my position keenly – like the prisoner in the dock. All London has been positively whooping over the success of the thing, and here am I, like a Jonah barking in the wilderness, or whatever it is, obstinately refusing to be guided by the judgment of my betters.

THE idea of the comedy is good – distinctly good. There is a young multi millionaire, whose name sounds like “cucumber” until you find on referring to your programme that it is Harry Q. Conder (Mr. Joseph Coyne), and whose staff of servants is recruited entirely from the ranks of the impoverished British aristocracy. There are a duke and an earl, and there is one young man without a title of any kind, but who claims noble descent because he was called William – after the Conqueror, a little gleam of nonsensical humour which is welcome, not so much for its brilliance as for its rarity. Mr. Conder, having engaged his aristocrats at a high salary, always gets his money’s worth by addressing them by their full titles, whether they are grooms or butlers or chambermaids. This idea, generously developed, should have been sufficient to make a success of the story but it is not insisted on after the first scene or two, and we gradually come to regard the servants surrounding the millionaire and his sister as quite ordinary mortals. It would not matter much if there were any other source of fun in the play; but as this idea seems to have been the motif of the piece, it seemed to me a pity not to insist on it a little more.

I THINK the story is weakened by the fact that the love interest is split, just for all the world as if it were one of those horrid infinitives. Mr. Conder shares his palatial mansion with his sister Alice (Miss Lily Elsie), and we have two leading love stories to follow to their happy conclusion. This is a rather daring novelty to spring upon a public which has always been taught to believe that it has a sort of hereditary claim to see the hero and the heroine of a play marrying each other at the finish. It is true that, for the sake of contrast, Conder conducts his love making with light and buoyant humour, as if, after all, it didn’t matter whether the lady married him or not while Alice takes her love affair with dead seriousness, and positively staggers with excitement at the end of the second act on finding that the young man of her choice declines to admit that her dollars are to be compared to his own advantage of gentle birth. In this part Mr. Robert Michaelis makes what is unquestionably the hit of the production. One of the reasons for the success of Mr. Michaelis is that the play is strongest on its musical side, and as this gentleman not only has a very fine voice, but also possesses the ability to employ it to the greatest advantage, he has had good luck added to his own good management. I think his ideas of humour are at times a little extravagant, but much may be forgiven an artist with so many admirable qualities. His final duet with Miss Elsie as the curtain falls is one of the most pleasing features in the entertainment.

MISS EMMY WEHLEN is a newcomer at Daly’s, but she bids fair to rank as one of the prime favourites at that house. She is called Olga in the piece, and it therefore seems quite superfluous to add that she is a Russian Countess. We should doubt the credentials of a Russian Countess who had not got Olga for at least one of her names. Miss Wehlen has a well-trained voice, and she sings with a delicate humour that adds a considerable charm to her efforts. Mr. W. H. Berry has quite a small part, but he works very hard to wrench a little fun out of it, and in this respect I think he is the most successful of any of the humorists in the piece. His performance came as quite a relief at times when we were, to use a very ordinary term, “fed up” with mere prettiness and severely correct music. Perhaps, as the play settles down, Mr. Berry may have more opportunities of showing his quality; and I think the same benefit might be conferred on Mr. Evelyn Beerbohm, who is a good man practically left idle when there is a really crying demand for the sort of work he knows how to do so well. Another of the successes is Miss Gabrielle Ray, who gives, with Mr. Willie Warde, one of the happiest song-and-dance turns of the evening. It seems a trifle cheap to talk about a little Ray of sunshine, but, after all, the facts must speak for themselves, even if they are guilty of punning when they do it.

JOSEPH COYNE seems to lose a little of his glamour in conventional costume. We have associated him for so long with astrachan and top boots that it is a little difficult to accept him as the pink of West-End fashion. His best turn is a song and dance on the tennis courts with a number of pretty ladies, who oblige with the chorus but doubtless he, too, will feel more at home in his part presently. Miss Lily Elsie is, as ever, quite delightful. She sings and acts with a gentle grace that wins all hearts, my own included, and there is no doubt, to judge by the temper of the audience, that she is still the queen of the ——– excuse me. I had very nearly said “Daly males,” and we really can’t allow that sort of thing in a responsible paper, especially as Miss Elsie seems to be quite as popular with the ladies as with us boys.

WHAT is the matter with the piece? Mr. George Edwardes has clearly spared neither pains nor money in his effort to produce a worthy piece of work. The music and the acting are all that could be desired, except that I could find nothing that promised to be “popular” among the melodies. It almost looks as if the aim had been a little too high, with the result that the whole thing has turned out to be too severely correct. After all, the man in the street still counts for something, but unless he has a highly developed taste in music I do not see where he is catered for in this avowedly popular production. It seems a poor return for the great courtesy shown to me at Daly’s Theatre that I should go out of my way to say unpleasant things about the piece, but the best of us can do no more than speak according to the light that is in him.

Jingle.

 

The Bystander – Wednesday 6th October 1909

 

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December 1, 2018 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Bystander, The Dollar Princess, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vera Neville – The Merry Widow – The Globe and Traveller – Friday 7th August 1908

 

DALY’S THEATRE.

TONIGHT, at 5.15, THE MERRY WIDOW. Messrs. Talleur Andrews, Lennox Pawle, Fred Kaye, Leslie Holland, Ralph Roberts, Foster, O’Connor, Joseph Coyne and George Graves; Mesdames Alma Griffiths, Vera Neville, Glyn, LeGrand, Hobson, Desmond, Lindsey, Welch, and Lily Elsie.

The Globe – Friday 7th August 1908

 

Peter Graves (1911-1994) began his career in Ivor Novello musicals, where he met his wife Vanessa Lee (1920-1992).

In a Gazette interview, Peter Graves said his mother, Vera Neville understudied Gabrielle Ray as Frou Frou in the original 1907 London version of the musical.

Vera Neville

Peter Graves (8th Lord Graves, Baron of Gravesend)

 

 

November 22, 2018 Posted by | Actress, Aristophot, Deltiology, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Merry Widow, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Hon. Mrs James Beck – The Tatler – Wednesday 26th November 1930

THE HON. MRS. JAMES BECK

The portrait by Mr. Cecil Beaton, which is included in “The Book of Beauty,” which he has just had published by Messrs. Duckworth, and which includes numerous photographs and also sketches of the people with whom the book deals. The author in his preface tells us that his greatest heroines in his childhood’s days were not the Maid of Orleans, or the Lady of the Lamp, but Lily Elsie, Gabrielle Ray, and Queen Alexandra. The author’s study of beauty has taken in its present shape this collection of all the most decorative people of to-day and yesterday. The Hon. Mrs. James Beck is Lord Glenconner’s sister.

The Tatler – Wednesday 26th November 1930

November 4, 2018 Posted by | Actress, Biography, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amy Webster – The Little Cherub -The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News – Saturday 14th April 1906

May 14, 2017 Posted by | Actress, Amy Webster, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News, The Little Cherub, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Actors’ Orphanage Fete – The Tatler – Wednesday 6th July 1910

March 13, 2017 Posted by | Actress, Biography, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Tatler, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Female Stars of Musical Theatre in Edwardian England

I recently bought a copy of “Female Stars of Musical Theatre in Edwardian England” by Christopher Frost, and the link for further information can be found here.

There are 286 actresses covered along with 358 illustrations over 304 pages so I have only just “dipped” into this book, but the actresses I have looked at, Lily Elsie, Gabrielle Ray and Gladys Raymond are well researched and well written with reproductions of postcards showing each actress from the author’s own collection. My only critism is that there isn’t an index which would make cross referencing actresses and easier but that’s just my preference and doesn’t detract from the quality of the book.

October 12, 2016 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Gladys Raymond, Lily Elsie, Social History, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray (Davidson Bros 4153)

The Merry Widow (Aristophot E.1956)

February 15, 2016 Posted by | Actress, Davidson Bros., Deltiology, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Merry Widow, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lily Elsie – The Merry Widow – A. 204.5

Lily Elsie - The Merry Widow - A. 204.5

January 15, 2016 Posted by | Actress, Deltiology, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Merry Widow, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dollar Princess – The Illustrated London News – 1909

The Dollar Princess - The Illustrated London News - 13th November 1909

The Dollar Princess (Rotary 7491 E)

January 6, 2016 Posted by | Actress, Daly's Theatre, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Dollar Princess, The Illustrated London News, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gabrielle Ray (Rotary 5326)

Gabrielle Ray (Rotary 5326) 1913

December 5, 2015 Posted by | Actress, Deltiology, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Rotary, Social History, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment