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?'

Daisy Irving – The Merry Widow – The Tatler – Wednesday 10th July 1907

The Talk of the Town

 

PRINCE DANILO (MR. JOSEPH COYNE) AND SONIA (MISS LILY ELSIE) DANCING THE MUCH-TALKED-OF WALTZ

This scene, the most important of the second act, sees the delightful waltz which from the first performance has evoked scenes of extraordinary enthusiasm on the part of the audience

 

BARON POPOFF (MR. GEORGE GRAVES) TELLS A FUNNY STORY

 

Mr. Graves’s sayings throughout the piece are irresistible and evoke roars of laughter.

Seated on his right are: Frou-Frou (Miss Daisie Irving), Margot (Miss Margot Erskine),

To-To (Miss Mabel Munroe), and on his left Jou-Jou (Miss Dolly Dombey)

 

In “The Merry Widow” Mr. George Edwardes has found a comic opera which will fill Daly’s Theatre for many months to come. In every way in music, in lyrics, in acting a genuine success has been found, and it is hard to say to whom should he awarded the honours of the occasion. Never have the famous band of drolls Mr. Joseph Coyne, Mr. George Graves, Mr. W. H. Berry, and Mr. Fred Kaye acted better, and if only for the introduction of Miss Lily Elsie is Mr. Edwardes to be cordially thanked for “The Merry Widow.”

The whole town is now ringing with the haunting strains of the beautiful dance in the second act of “The Merry Widow,” charmingly interpreted by Mr. Coyne and Miss Elsie, and the music which has delighted a continent is giving equal delight here. In M. Franz Lehar is the true successor to Offenbach, and it is to be hoped that London will soon see further examples of his true musical talent. A word is due to our contributor, Mr. Adrian Ross, for his very pleasing lyrics for this most successful piece.

 

SCENE FROM ACT III. – SONIA TO THE PRINCE: “I LOVE YOU I I LOVE YOU!  I’VE ALWAYS LOVED YOU!”

 

The names of the characters, reading from left to right, are: Nisch, messenger to the legation (Mr. W. H. Berry); Sylvaine (Miss Irene Desmond);

M. de St. Brioche Mr. Gordon Cleather); Natalie, wife of Baron Popoff (Miss Elizabeth Firth); Baron Popoff (Mr. George Graves); Prince Danilo (Mr. Joseph Coyne);

Sonia (Miss Lily Elsie); General Novikovich (Mr. Fred Kaye); Olga, wife of Novikovich (Miss Nina Sevening)

M. Khadja (Mr.V. 0’Conncor and the Marquis de Cascada (Mr. Lennox Pawle)

 

The Tatler – Wednesday 10th July 1907

 

Daisy Irving – The Tatler – Wednesday 24th July 1907

February 24, 2021 Posted by | Actress, Daly's Theatre, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Merry Widow, The Tatler, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray – Oval Beauties Rare – The Daily Mirror – Tuesday 29th August 1911

OVAL BEAUTIES RARE

Round Face Becoming the Type of English Loveliness.

ARTISTIC OBJECTION.

 

There are signs that efforts are being made to establish the “round” face as the true type of English beauty and to condemn the “oval” face, which has for generations been the inspiration of poets and painters alike.

The leaders of the campaign in favour of the round face, according to a well-known male novelist, are to be found chiefly in the ranks of the women novelists, who invariably make their heroines round-faced and describe them as “sweetly pretty” and as preserving “a girlish charm.”

In the course of a letter to The Daily Mirror attacking this new cult, the author, with some temerity, gives a list of popular musical comedy favourites, who represent, he says, the apotheosis of the round-face type.

 

ROUND-FACE TYPE.

The following list – in the order of the popularity of their photographs – of ladies of the stage of the round-face type was supplied yesterday to The Daily Mirror by a prominent photographer of London actresses:-

  1. Lily Elsie.
  2. Gabrielle Ray.
  3. Gertie Millar.
  4. Lily Brayton.
  5. Constance Collier.
  6. Marie Studholme.
  7. Tessie Hackney.
  8. Norah Kerin.

“I grant,” writes the novelist, “that they are pretty, winsome, attractive and charming, but they are not beautiful in the sense that the old masters regarded beauty nor as the leading modern artists regard it either.

“The truth of the matter is that round faces are becoming more and more common in Great Britain, and they are now in such a great majority that they are able to take up and popularise the fashions of dress, millinery or hairdressing that best suit their own type of beauty, and the rare oval-faced beauties are forced by fashion to follow them, greatly to their own disadvantage.

“Modern hats, modern hairdressing and modern clothes are all in favour of the round-faced girl, and she has won thereby a purely fictitious reputation for beauty.”

Miss Ivy Lilian Close, adjudged in The Daily Mirror beauty competition to be the most beautiful woman in England, is a striking example, however, of the English admiration for the round-face type.

America, on the other hand, still clings to the oval face type of beauty, the artistic type, the type beloved of the old masters, as is instanced in the case of Miss Katherine Frey, judged to be the most beautiful woman in America.

 

ACTRESSES OF OVAL FACE TYPE.

 “La Gioconda” is yet again another instance of admiration for the long-recognised type of beautiful face – the oval, delicate, finely-chiselled and spirituelle features always given by painters to beautiful women of other days.

That this type of face still has its admirers in England was also instanced by the same photographer who supplied another list of actresses of the oval-face type, the names, as before, being given in the order of the popularity of their photographs:-

  1. Phyllis Dare,
  2. Julia Neilson.
  3. Neilson Terry.
  4. Pearl Aufrere.
  5. Marie Wilson.
  6. Gaby Deslys.
  7. Evelyn Millard.
  8. Grace Lane.

Mr. George Henry, A.R.A., told The Daily Mirror yesterday that the delicate oval face is still the recognised type of beauty in artists’ studios.

“It was also the recognised type in Japan when I was there some years ago,” he said, “and although I only saw two women who possessed the true oval face, all the round-faced women insisted upon their pictures being painted as if they were of the oval type of beauty.”

 

The Daily Mirror – Tuesday 29th August 1911

 

February 23, 2021 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray – Life Off the Stage – The Weekly Dispatch (London) – Sunday 26th May 1912

LAST NIGHT’S THEATRICAL GOSSIP.

Life Off the Stage.

It is curious how quickly the public gives up talking about well-known people once they retire, temporarily or otherwise, from the occupation that has brought them into prominence. One never hears a word of Gabrielle Ray now that she married and gone away, and people have ceased inquiring when Miss Lily Elsie will return to the stage. I would not be in the least surprised if both those Daly’s Theatre actresses found life away from the stage so pleasant that they will never return to the theatre unless as spectators. They would only be following the example of Miss Edna May, who loves the theatre; “but as for acting, no, no, never again, on any terms.” And yet she looks wonderfully pretty now.

 

The Weekly Dispatch (London) – Sunday 26th May 1912

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Gabrielle Ray – Actresses on Holiday – The Weekly Dispatch (London) – Sunday 7th August 1910

Actors on Holiday

Many of the “star” actors and actresses are away out of London now getting a rest and a breath of fresh air. Miss Gertie Millar is at Lytham, her favourite dogs with her, a merry pack of little terriers. Then Miss Lily Elsie is in France, at Le Touquet and Miss Gabrielle Ray is finishing up her holiday at the same place. They are both doing their very best to qualify for the Ladies’ Golf Championship of England.

The Weekly Dispatch (London) – Sunday 7th August 1910

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Gabrielle Ray – The Dollar Princess – The Evening News (London) – Monday 27th September 1909

I’m constantly looking through the News Archive for snippets about Miss Ray and the piece below came up, what was interesting was the descriptions of the costumes worn by Lily Elsie, Emmy Wehlen and Miss Ray. Often there aren’t any illustration to accompany the piece but this had two, checking my collection I found two, one of Lily Elsie and one of Miss Ray that correspond with the descriptions, Emmy Wehlen I didn’t have any as she isn’t someone who’s cards I collect. I have added the images below along with the article.

WOMAN’S WORLD

STAGE DRESSES IN THE “DOLLAR PRINCESS.”

BEAUTIFUL GOWNS WORN BY MISS LILY ELSIE AND MISS EMMY WEHLEN.

 

Brilliant schemes of colour allied to the fascinating modes of today may be said to be the leading notes struck by the wonderful display of dress in Mr. George Edwardes’s new production, “The Dollar Princess,” at Daly’s Theatre. As usual, Miss Lily Elsie presents a series of the most lovely stage pictures in her character of the Dollar Princess, and the colours and fashion of her gowns accentuate the alluring charm of her own personality.

A Scheme of White, Blue, and Pink.

White, pale blue and pale pink have always been the three hues chosen as the fitting background of a pink and white skin, blue eves and golden brown hair, and it is noticeable that this charming trio appear in some form in every dress worn by Miss Lily Elsie. In the first act, this popular actress presents the striking silhouette demanded by the mode of the moment, and materialised in a straight tunic of soft white silk, slashed open at either side over it narrow scant underdress, and caught together by broad pocket-like plaques of Wedgwood blue silk embroidered in white.

The Piquant Tennis Dress.

Again the note of blue is struck in the wonderful tennis frock worn in the second act. The laveuse tunic of softest blue silk is turned up in the correct manner over an ethereal underdress of white de mouseeline de soir with entredeux of lace posed above draperies of palest pink chiffon, which give a lovely tint to the muslin. Very piquant is the fashion in which the tunic at the back is formed into a very fascinating sash drapery fringed deeply at the end. A corsage bouquet of pink roses and a most fascinating cabriolet hat of shot-blue satin with narrow velvet strings framing the pretty face and a knot of pink roses nestling at the left side still further carry out this colour scheme of pale-blue and pink.

A Gown of Dazzling Glitter.

Brilliantly scintillating is Miss Lily Elsie’s second gown in the same act, composed as it is of an exquisitely lovely underdress of soft lace, festooned with trails of button pink roses and horizontal bands of pale blue ribbon, worn beneath a glittering fringed stole of diamante chiffon and a long tunic of the like fabric. Draped from both arms and suspended partially from the shoulders is a lovely scarf of pink chiffon fringed with crystal and paste drops. The whole affect is one of dazzling beauty, and successfully conveys the sense and atmosphere of a multi-millionaire princess.

Wedgwood Blue Straw and Blue Roses.

The last act reveals Miss Lily Elsie in a long motor coat of white cloth with roll revers of white silk and a piquant bonnet of Wedgwood blue straw trimmed with a knot of pink roses. The coat is worn above a striking dress, showing the modish cuirass bodice of palest pink mousseline de sole, with a flounce of soft silk and revealing beneath the cuirass a broad band of pale-blue silk, which trims the underdress of chiffon. Again a graceful chiffon scarf of palest pink is knotted round the arms, giving another charming note to this pretty frock.

Pervenche Chiffon Velvet.

Very striking, also, are the gowns worn by Miss Emmy Wehlen. The first dress, of pervenche chiffon velvet, with its sash drapery arranged just below the knees and it’s guimpe of pervenche embroidered lace, is worn with a becoming hat of pervenche satin, trimmed with lovely beige-coloured plumes. In the tennis scene Miss Wehlen first appears in a tunic of pale blue chiffon garlanded with pink roses over a soft blue silk tunic, and a large white feather toque. This is exchanged for a most fascinating evening gown of white silk, with the corsage and panel embroidered in coral and gold, and a most effective touch is given by the striking draperies of black and silver tulle caught in from the shoulders to the arms, and matching the black and silver scarf swathed round the coiffure.

A Picturesque Evening Cloak.

Everyone will admire the picturesquely draped olive green velvet cloak trimmed with gold ornaments worn in the same scene by Miss Wehlen above an exquisitely fitting frock of palest grey-green satin charmeuse with a hint of pink. No will Miss Gabrielle Ray’s coat of pink satin be forgotten, worn above a white chiffon petticoat trimmed with medallion shaped ruches encircling Empire baskets of chiffon roses, and accompanied by the most fascinating Revolution bonnet of gold coloured straw trimmed with a tiny wreath of roses for which a net is substituted afterwards.

The Evening News (London) – Monday 27th September 1909

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Mrs Basil Loder – Lily Elsie – The Tatler – Wednesday 16th May 1917

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Amy Webster – The Merry Widow – The London Daily News – Tuesday 11th June 1907

 

DALY’S THEATRE

 THIS EVENING at 8.30. THE MERRY WIDOW

 

Messrs Robert Evett, W H. Barry, Lennox Pawle, Gordon Cleather, Fred Kaye, V. O’Connor, R. Roberts and Joseph Coyne and George Graves;

Misses Elizabeth Firth, Nina Sevening, Irene Desmond, K Welch, A Webster, D. Dunbar, D. Dombey, D. Irving, P. le Grand, M. Munroe, M. Erskine, G. Lester, M. Russell and Lily Elsie.

 

The London Daily News – Tuesday 11th June 1907

 

August 24, 2020 Posted by | Actress, Amy Webster, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Merry Widow, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray – See See – The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News – Saturday 7th July 1906

 

 

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The Merry Widow Dinner – The Era – Saturday 6th February 1909

 

“MERRY WIDOW” DINNER.

 

The O. P. Club, founded in 1900, by Mr. Carl Hentschel, has been responsible for many interesting functions. The most noticeable that may be mentioned are the Welcome Home Dinner to Sir Henry Irving and Miss Ellen Terry, the Congratulatory Dinner to Sir Charles Wyndham, the Welcome Home Supper to Mr. Charles Hawtrey and Mr. Lionel Brough, and Congratulatory Dinner to Sir John Hare and Sir Charles Santley, and recently the celebrated Savoyard Dinner. Last Sunday’s function, The Merry Widow Dinner, held at the Hotel Cecil, eclipsed all others in point of numbers and interest. It was the first time that any body of playgoers 550 strong had assembled celebrate the success of any particular play. The O.P. Club were honouring not only Mr. George Edwardes, who is, indeed, rarely seen at public dinners, but also they were welcoming the artists who have taken part in this world-famed opera. The President, Mr. Max Pemberton, proposed the toast of “The Hit of the Century,” to which Mr. George Edwardes replied, and Mr. Mostyn T. Piggott proposed The Merry Widow, which Miss Lily Elsie and Mr. Joseph Coyne responded. As a memento of dinner, Mr. Mostyn T. Pigott, on behalf of the O.P. Club, presented to Miss Lily Elsie neat silver jewel casket, tortoiseshell top inlaid with silver, bearing the inscription: “The O.P. Club “Merry Widow” Dinner. Jan. 31, 1909.” A pretty and exceedingly artistic souvenir menu, which had been specially prepared for this dinner, and designed and produced by Mr. Carl Hentschel, was in the hands of every guest.

Amongst those present were Mr. L. A. Atherley-Jones, K.C., M.P., Mr. Frank Boor, Miss Phyllis Broughton, Miss Alexandra Carlisle, Major Campbell Coffin, Mrs. Campbell Coffin, Mr. Algernon Collins, Mrs. Algernon L. Collins, Mr. Joseph Coyne, Mr. Harding Cox, Miss Evelyn D’Alroy, Miss Marie Dainton, Mr. Frank Dcsprez, Miss Desprez, Miss Irene Desmond, Miss Constance Drever, Mr. G. Spencer Edwards, Mr. George Edwardes, Miss Lily Elsie, Miss Clara Evelyn, Mr. Robert Evett, Mr. Thomas Fraser, Mr. Fred Farren, Mr. Albert Garcia, Mr. George Grosssmith, jun., Miss Evie Greene, Mr. Carl Hentschel, Mrs. Carl Hentschel, Miss Hentschel, Miss Elsie Irving, Mr. Herman Jacoby, Miss Nora Kerin, Mr. Maurice Levy, Miss Phyllis Legrand, Col. Henry Mapleson, Miss Greville Moore, Mr. Ernest Mayer, Miss Gertie Millar, Mr. J. F. McArdle, Mr. G. E. Minor, Mr. Edmund Payne, Mrs. Edmund Payne, Mr. Max Pemberton, Mrs. Max Pemberton, Mme. Petite, Miss Jessie Rose, Mr. Harry Randall, Mr. George Rollit, Miss Gabrielle Ray, Mr. T. McDonald Rendie, Mr. Frank Richardson, Miss Vera Thornton, Miss Gertrude Thornton, Sir J. Somers Vine, and Miss Kate Welch.

After the toast of “The King” had been heartily honoured,

The CHAIRMAN, proposing “The Hit the Century,” said, in the course of his remarks: I cannot say that Mr. George Edwardes has satisfied me. He has not told me how make the hit the century. His secret, ghastly or otherwise, remains in his own possession, and so I am left to answer for him, and tell you that the secret of his life is success, and that we are here to celebrate that success with all the goodwill we can command. We are here, indeed, to recognise the fact that has spent more than twenty-five years in a continuous endeavour to amuse the people. I need hardly say that such task provokes criticism, that it makes enemies but best of all that it makes friends. If you amuse the people you are criticised by those who not amuse the people. These about crying the Ephesians of old, “Great are Shaw and the Shavians,” but you will discover them none the less where widows are merry, and you will not be surprised that Superman, who has known them, drowns the memory in a lingering waltz. I repeat they do not amuse the people. Now, it would be impossible celebrate Mr. George Edwardes’ many triumphs and to ignore the particular form of entertainment by which they have been won. I might speak of musical comedy in many phases. I might speak of its educational side as well ordered system for the secondary training of peers, a system embracing considerable knowledge of geography and topography, with some sidelights upon the manners and customs of alien people. I might ask how many schoolboys—public school boys—knew much of Dantzig or Gottenberg, or the French Riviera before Mr. George Edwardes personally conducted them to those interesting localities. One might even venture the question: How far was the economic status of the shop-girl understood before the production of The Girl from Kay’s? These I will avoid, preferring to regard musical comedy as the oldest fashion of all mere emotional display. Is it not after all, just singing and dancing, and is not that all the world? May we not believe that the children of Israel had their musical comedies in the desert, and that Moses took a stage box, while the show was generally presented by Moses? More than this, am I not permitted by the theologians to tell you that, whatever be the fate of mere comedy and drama in the world to come, singing and dancing will be the permanent recreations of the blessed. If this implies that the problem play must be performed in a somewhat heated atmosphere, the fault is not mine. I claim elemental virtues for this form of art or recreation or whatsoever you choose to call it, and I say that there no nonsense about it. When the young art student said to Whistler, “I paint what I see” he retorted, “Ah, but the tragedy will come when you see what you paint.” The man who produces a successful musical comedy must see what his artists paint all the time, and there must be no tragedy about it. For twenty-five years and more has Mr. George Edwardes done this – lavishly, fearlessly with honest purpose, great courage, and splendid achievement. He himself is the true story of musical comedy. It was in the year 1885 that he presented to us his first study of the criminal law, Little Jack Sheppard. With one exception our guest is thus the doyen of London managers. I hold in my hand a list of his children; is it not an instructive document? Seven bouncing girls to begin with, a few boys to keep the house lively-children of many lands and many colours – Greeks, Spaniards, Germans, aristocratic collaterals, and indispensable poor relations. As we read it the names of many delightful players recur to us. Some of these children have left the old home for the splendour of palaces and the realisation of unlimited bank balance – some, perhaps, have found the balances not what they expected – I pass over that; but out of it all the supreme fact emerges that though girls may come and girls may go, all London will re-echo the wish that Mr. George Edwardes – the very father of our gaiety-may for ever. Such is the sentiment I venture to commend to you. We are here – the ladies will permit me for the moment to address the mere males – we are here, most of us, married men, to celebrate the joyousness of widows. To this has our simple human nature been led by the thunderbolt which Mr. George Edwardes has fired among us, the hit which still leaves our ears singing. By him we have learned that when, gentlemen, are dead and gone, are seeking  new melodies from unfamiliar instruments, then our widows will be spending the twenty millions we intend to leave them in vulgar flirtations in a beer garden. This needs much courage to contemplate, but where courage is concerned, Mr. Edwardes is our friend. By him consolation shall come; by him the wind shall tempered to the shorn lamb; with him we will forget for a little while that brief life is here our portion, and that the funds are falling one by one. He, indeed, is our true friend, and caring little about hits and little about misses, I ask you to drink his health with gratitude and with enthusiasm.

GEORGE EDWARDES, who, in rising, was received with tumultuous applause, said, in reply to the toast:- Mr. President. Ladies and Gentlemen, – It is with some diffidence that I rise to return thanks for the toast that my friend Mr. Pemberton has brightly proposed. The delivery of speeches from the stage and elsewhere is not department managerial duty in which I profess to be proficient. It does not matter much on a first night, because some kind friends are cheering and other kind friends are booing, and nobody hears a word. If 1 could confine my speeches to there rare occasions – they could not be too rare – I might acquire a reputation as an orator. But in the presence of audience of orators I will be brief and not more tedious than I can help. It is good of you to allude to the piece with which I am connected as the “Hit of the Century,” I hope it will not be the only hit of the century, for there are ninety-one more years to run, and I cannot afford to run Daly’s Theatre for ninety-one years on the surplus profits of The Merry Widow. Certainly The Merry Widow has had a wider success than any musical piece since The Mikado. I feel somewhat shy in returning thanks for The Merry Widow and those concerned in presenting her to London. I have had long experience in dealing with girls – Gaiety girls who never went to the Gaiety, and all sorts of other girls who did, but this is my first widow. Well, I won the widow by methods of wooing unnecessary to mention here, and having won her I had to introduce her to the British public. To begin with, I had to teach her to speak English, and then I had find her an English-speaking lover and a circle of friends.

It was not easy to settle on the people to play the widow or her lover. Prima donnas for light opera have never been plentiful in England, and those who had already attained fame in that position were mostly engaged. I had to choose some lady, not so much for what the public had seen her do as for what I hoped they would see her do. The lady I need not name. The authors and the composer said, “Who this lady? We have not heard her.” I replied “Come and see her!” They came, and there was no more trouble. But with the part Danilo there was more difficulty. Danilo is, as those of you who have been in Germany will know, a singing part, and it is also an acting part. Now when one author and the composer came over, they said, “Who is your tenor? Who is going sing Damlo?” Then I had to explain that my tenor, though an admirable vocalist, was somewhat out voice – that was nervous. When they insisted on hearing Mr. Joseph Coyne, I used to turn on Mr. Adrian Ross to talk German them. Well, by hook or crook, and by exhausting all the resources of managerial mendacity, I delayed the evil day, but at last Mr. Leon and Mr. Lehar heard my tenor, and they said, or at least Mr. Leon, who speaks English, said, “Why, your tenor does not sing at all – he talks” “Yes,” I answered, “but did you ever hear man talk a song better?” They were indignant – they wanted to start for Vienna at once. I had put Mr. Ross on to tell them the next train in German, and by the time he had finished the train had gone. Eventually, being very nice people, they quieted down. They did want to tell what they thought of my conduct, but it was agreed that Mr. Lehar should express it In Hungarian or Czech. I don’t speak Czech, though I write it well. They stayed to the first night – and I will say more. To show you the difficulties with which managers have to contend, I was once negotiating with lady to go to India as prima donna, and I thought I would approach the question artfully. We were nearly agreed – the difference between us was a paltry £100 a week – I offered her £100, the same salary as I had paid to Miss Farren, and she asked me £200 a week. I began to tell her of the rest for her voice. I spoke of the lovely voyage, the quiet Bay of Biscay, the blue Mediterranean, her arrival at Calcutta, the glories of India, how the lady would win the hearts of all the princes, of Jams and Rams and Dams, Nawabs and Nabobs, Rajahs and Maharajahs. I said, “They’ll send you ropes of pearls to tie up your dresses, elephants with trunks full of emeralds, and diamonds enough for a skirt – and skirts were skirts in those days.” I said, “What is a miserable hundred a week the side of that?” Well, I thought I had impressed the lady. She promised think it over. She did. Next day I got note :-

“Dear Mr. Edwardes,

Give terms and you can keep the presents.”

If I am not boring you I would like to tell yon a little story of the last night of the old Gaiety. Well. I was very anxious to get Sir Henry Irving to come and say a few farewell words for us on the stage at the end of the performance, but I was rather afraid that would not turn up, so on the night before I called at Drury Lane Theatre, where he was then playing Dante, and I went his room see him. I told him that there was intense excitement about the last night, I reminded him that he was an old Gaiety actor, and that the public were very anxious to see him at the Gaiety. “Great excitement to see me, is there?” he said. “The greatest.” I replied. “Inquiries if I’m coming all day the box office, eh?” “The telephones have not ceased ringing,” was answer. “Telegrams and letters all day, too!” “All day!” “Edwardes, what d –d liar you are!” And now, before I sit down, let say how much I value the kindly welcome that we of The Merry Widow have had here to-night. It is a great honour to be entertained by the O.P. Club. There were once O.P. riots at the theatre. I am sure none of the members of the club would do anything of that sort. There is another sense in which O.P. is used on the stage – it means opposite to prompt. That also is not the meaning of this club. In their real for the best interests of the drama, in their friendly welcome to excellence, native or foreign, they are prompt – not the opposite. But whenever I go on the stage to rehearse before production, or booed after it, I shall look across to the O. P. side and remember to-night.  For we managers, even managers of musical plays, have our artistic ambitions, even if we have to think of business considerations. We try to give the best we can get; we do not intentionally bore the critics and the public, as some people seem to think. We do not instruct the librettists to put in an especially stupid line order to annoy the fastidious people in the stalls. Perhaps we didn’t know the line was stupid – or perhaps didn’t put it in at all. We try our best – if we fail, generally know it better than others, but, after all, it is not criminal, if we succeed we, value better than the money rewards of success the kindly recognition and welcome of those who know – our friends and hosts of the O.P. Club.

Mr, MOSTYN T. PIGOTT, in submitting the toast of The Merry Widow said; “You have learnt how the Merry Widow has cast her spell over the major portion of the civilised world; how Germany, Austria, and the United States have formed a Triple Alliance to do her honour; how the Antipodes have bowed beneath her sway; and how even the illimitable veldt has yielded to her blandishments. France alone has so far kept clear of the entanglement, but there can be doubt that before very long that beauty-loving and laughter-loving land will echo the cries of “Vive la Veuve!” But there are certain illuminating facts to which your attention has so far not been directed. From certain unimpeachable authorities I have from time to time gleaned many items of interest and value. For instance, I find that since The Merry Widow was first produced, the various interpreters of the title-role have received between them no less than 19,066 proposals of marriage; that the various impresarios have comfortably banked the cool sum of £19,000,002 as their profits; and that there is a not inconsiderable section of the House of Lords which believes that the best method of reforming that much-abused institution would be to co-opt Mr. Joseph Coyne. With regard to the last-named item, I may say that I think personally that it would be a graceful act to make a peer of the realm of one who, though by the mere accident of birth an American, has been adopted by this country as a Coyne of the realm, and a sound, sterling, and true-ringing Coyne at that. And what of Miss Lily Elsie? Zounds, oddsbodikins, and gadzooks! as Mr. Max Pemberton’s heroes have a habit of remarking, to say that she has brought a whole nation to her feet would to put the matter but mildly. In these days, when, unfortunately, only too many of our leading actors and actresses appear to get bored with a part after a run of 100 nights, it is deliciously refreshing to see Miss Elsie, as I saw her only yesterday afternoon, playing her part with the same charming freshness, the same sincerity, and the same absence of exaggeration as she displayed twenty months ago. It is constantly, being hurled at us as a reproach nowadays that we are as a nation wallowing in abyss of apathy, that we are deaf to the call of duty, and blind to the imminence of danger. But I make bold to say that, were there danger impending, Miss Lily Elsie has only don the uniform the Territorial Army and sound her bugle, and there would not male inhabitant of these islands who would not cheerfully enrol himself under her banner, and who would not march to death or glory with smiling face to the accompaniment of that haunting melody to which we have luncheoned, dined, supped, aye, and even taken our morning tubs for so long. Under the lithe and lissome leadership of our Marsovial Joan of Arc we should literally waltz round our unfortunate and foredoomed foe. But we must not let this evening pass without some words of recognition to others to whom honour is due. There are other ladies present who have charmingly represented The Merry Widow, and there are other ladies and gentlemen present amongst us who, by their sweet singing, their graceful dancing, and their genial and unforced humour, have largely contributed to the unprecedented success of this wonderful piece as members of one of the most thoroughly gifted casts ever seen in London. We are not here to-night say “Farewell” to The Merry Widow. She is in her zenith, and it may be years and years before that sad word must said. So it is not only with hearts full of thanks for the past but also with hearts full of hope for the future that we will drink to the toast of “The Merry Widow.” But before that toast is formally put to you for your enthusiastic reception I have a pleasing duty to perform. I am deputed by the committee of the O.P. Club to ask Miss Lily Elsie to accept this little jewel casket, and to express the hope that she will live for many many years to look upon it with kindly eyes as souvenir of celebration which has been to her, we trust, delightful, and which has been, we know, well won.

MISS LILY ELSIE, who received a most enthusiastic ovation, responded the following words: Mr. Ladies, Mrs. President, and Gentlemen, – Oh! there, I’ve mixed it up. I’m sorry, but I am so nervous. I don’t think I was worse my own first night. I tried to learn a speech; I couldn’t. All yesterday I was thinking. I was thinking where I could hide these few notes; they are not my salary. Mr. Edwardes has that, I hope. First I thought of putting in my hat, but it wasn’t large enough – my hat, I mean. I thought of putting it under these gloves, but they faded. So here are my thanks in writing – own. It’s awful writing; I can hardly read it, however. Oh! I’ve put down something funny I thought of. I think it most appropriate I should address you, because you are merry. I don’t mean too merry – is that good? – and although you are not widows, you are smoking my weeds. Mr. Coyne will say that to-morrow night. That’s half my speech. Would you like any more? Very well. I want to say how much I owe my dear manager, Mr. Edwardes, for I fully realise that it is the part that makes the artist, not the artist who makes the part. I thought you would have said “No, no!” And another thing, it has been a pleasure to act with Mr. Joseph Coyne. Ladies, gentlemen, and others, I want to sit down, as I am so nervous; but before I do, will you allow very gratefully to thank you to thank you from my heart for the way in which you have been indulgent enough to endorse Mr. Edwardes’s choice of the obscure little girl I was, and am still? I thank you; indeed I do.

Mr. JOSEPH COYNE, replying the same toast, said in the coarse of his remarks: I have not only the O. P. Club to thank for your kind invitation to this delightful gathering, but also Mr. Edwardes, who made it possible for me to be a member of The Merry Widow company, because, as everyone knows by this time, the part of Danilo in The Merry Widow is a singing part absolutely, and, as everyone knows now – or at least they knew before the first night was over – I was not singer. When Mr. Edwardes offered me the part of Danilo I knew there was a lot of music to be sung, and told him that I knew and felt could not sing it. But he insisted. He told that what I could not sing or did not sing I could recite, and after much persuasion he finally got me to consent to accept the part on condition that I could recite what I did not sing. Well, rehearsals started, and of course while Mr. Edwardes was directing them everything went all right as far as I was concerned. Finally, the week before the production Mr. Edwards had Mr. Lehar, the composer, and Mr. Leon, the author, over to attend the final rehearsals. Everything went swimmingly until my entrance as Prince to sing the Maxim song, and as soon as I opened my mouth and started to sing Mr Lehar’s smiles turned to frowns, he fidgeted in his chair, and did not strike the keys at all. In fact, he looked from one to another, first at Mr. Edwardes, then at Mr. Leon and Mr. Slavinsky, as much as to say, “What the devil is this? What is this you are springing me? “The song was finished Mr. Lehar immediately left the piano, and got his hat and coat, and called Mr Leon and Mr Slavinsky, and all three of them left the theatre abruptly. Immediately they went to their hotel and packed their belongings, paid their bill, and sent to Mr. Edwaedes that they were going to return Vienna at once. Mr Edwardes went the hotel to find out what the trouble was, and through Slavinsky he learned that Mr. Lehar objected me – he objected to my playing the part of Danilo, and went off in his German, “”Mein Gott, this man Coyne – he cannot sing – he will ruin my opera – Danilo! he can’t sing my music” – and said that would not consent to the production of the piece unless they got man in my place who could sing. Of course, time was getting short, and Mr. Edwardes, through Mr. Slavinsky, said, “Well, my goodness!  we must have this man. There other man available. Besides, this man, Coyne – I know can’t sing, but he can dance and he can act, and must have him – he is a funny man. Tell him he’s a really funny man – a very funny man,” and Mr. Lenar’s reply was. “Well, you tell Mr. Edwardes I haven t written any funny music” So, as I said before, through Mr. Edwares’s loyalty to me and your kindness, here I am.”

Mr. W. H BERRY proposed “The Chairman,” and Mr. Max Pemberton’s reply brought the speech-making to an end.

The musical arrangements during the evening were directed Messrs. Bernard Dickson and Stanley Greig, and the orchestra played many delightful selections from Mr. George Edwardes’s productions. Among the artists who assisted to make the function still more attractive by vocal and other contributions were: Miss Constance Drever, Miss Evie Greene, Mr. Robert Evett, Mr Charles Copland, Mr Morris Harvey, Mr. Walter Churcher, Miss Clara Evelyn, Miss Blanche Gaston-Murray, Mr. George Grossmith, jun., Mr. Albert Garcia, Mr. Spencer Thomas, and the “Daly” Glee.

The arrangements of the dinner were in the hands of Mr. Carl Hentschel, Mr. T. McDonald Rendle, and the hon. secretaries, Messrs. J. Davis and Stanley Greig.

 

The Era – Saturday 6th February 1909

 

 

 

 

May 13, 2019 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Era, The Merry Widow, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray – Betty – The Tatler – Wednesday 1st December 1915

Returns.

And as the war seems to have brought back to the stage a kind of rejuvenation of simple, irresponsible things, so, too, it has brought back old favourites whom the playgoing world adored years – well, the days of peace do seem like years and years ago. Lily Elsie in Mavoureen shows us that she is just as adorably sweet and dainty as ever;  Gabrielle Ray in Betty proves once more that, in spite of the strenuous style of the successful American review artist, her kind of spoilt-child, wayward, careless, but distinctly personal charm is just as potent as ever.

The Tatler – Wednesday 1st December 1915

May 12, 2019 Posted by | Actress, Betty, Daly's Theatre, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Tatler, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment