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 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

 

 

 

 

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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

The Merry Widow – Hull Daily Mail – Monday 2nd August 1909

“Merry Widow” Waltz:

Seven Encores.

 “The Merry Widow” made her last bow to a London audience at Daly’s Theatre on Saturday night, and thousands of her admirers tried to be present at her good-bye performance. A few hundreds succeeded.

The first enthusiast arrived at half-past five the morning, and settled down to wait for fourteen hours and a half.

The theatre was gaily decorated without and within with flags and flowers. The whole place seemed to be smothered in roses, and inscribed with flowers over the proscenium arch was Juliet’s phrase, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”

The afternoon performance was given to a packed house, but the best enthusiasm was kept for the evening. For days reserved seats had been at a premium, and all were sold. Fabulous sums were offered for all the standing room, but the regulations as to keeping gangways clear are relentless, even on such occasion.

The final burst of enthusiasm began with the arrival of the orchestra, and increased in intensity during the evening. Everything was encored, says the “Daly Graphic.” Most things were wanted more than once; everyone was cheered, but Miss Lily Elsie and Mr Joseph Coyne had more cheers than any other two players to divide between them. They had to go through the famous “Merry Widow” waltz seven times before the audience reluctantly consented to allow the piece to proceed, and the flowers handed up the people’s favourites were in quantities sufficient to stock half the florists in the West End.

The curtain rose again after the end of the play to disclose the whole of the company on the stage; and above the cheers, with which the theatre echoed, could be heard cries of “Speech! Speech!” At last Mr George Edwardes came forward, and after the special round of cheers for him had died down he thanked everyone for their enthusiastic demonstration. “We on this side of the curtain,” he said, “are just as sorry as you are to part with ‘The Merry Widow.’” He added that he hoped “The Dollar Princess,” which is due at Daly’s next month, would prove a worthy successor. And then, after few more cheers, the people consented to go away.

“The Merry Widow” was first produced in London on June 8th, 1907. It has been played for 778 times, seen by 1,100,000 people, and has netted in receipts £216,000.

 

The Hull Daily Mail – Monday 2nd August 1909

 

With inflation averaged 4.4% a year this equates to £25,256,084.21 in 2018

 

April 29, 2019 Posted by | Actress, Amy Webster, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Merry Widow, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Merry Widow – Sunday Times – Sunday 13th June 1909

PLAYS AND PLAYERS

Musical comedies enjoy a much larger proportion of long runs than other classes of plays, but even among them the two years uninterrupted run which “The Merry Widow” completed at Daly’s on Tuesday night is phenomenal and is unmistakable  testimony to the charm of the piece and of its acting by the clever company at Daly’s. Probably no other piece has had so many revenuers, and it is credibly reported that one enthusiast has witnessed it no fewer than a hundred times. It goes without saying that the revenuer and others made up a bumper house on Tuesday night and that the piece went with more than usual verve and dash, while the popular favourites received very flattering tributes. Miss Lily Elsie, whose success in the part of Sonia has been so emphatic, was easily first in the award of honours, but Miss Gabrielle Ray, Miss Mary Grey, Mr. Robert Evett, Mr Joseph Coyne, Mr. W. H. Berry, and Mr. Fred Kaye had a due share of the enthusiasm. At the end Mr. George Edwardes was persuaded into a speech, in which he announced that in a few weeks “The Merry Widow” would make her last curtsey. “I want her to retire while her charms are still fresh, her beauty unimpaired, in place of becoming through old age the object of your neglect.” In September he would produce “The Dollar Princess,” which, he trusted, they would find a worthy successor.

Miss Lily Elsie will be “The Dollar Princess” when that opera is presented at Daly’s in September, and Mr. Joseph Coyne will play the leading man’s part.

 

Sunday Times – Sunday 13th June 1909

April 5, 2019 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Merry Widow, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray (Davidson Bros)

 

Gabrielle Ray (Davidson Bros.)

February 17, 2019 Posted by | Actress, Davidson Bros., Deltiology, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray – The Little Cherub – The Tatler – Wednesday 7th February 1906

January 27, 2019 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Little Cherub, The Tatler, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

 

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