Gabrielle Ray

'Gabrielle Ray said, 'I am always dancing; I love it! When I don't dance, I sing. What else is there to do?'

Gabrielle Ray – Peggy – Graphic – Saturday 11th March 1911



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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


The Graphic – Saturday 11th  March 1911



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

Gabrielle Ray – Peggy – The Bystander – Wednesday 22nd March 1911

The well known Gaiety smile is rampant in “Peggy,” perhaps because the new production boasts three leading ladies, Miss Olive May, Miss Phyllis Dare and Miss Gabrielle Ray.

March 9, 2023 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Peggy, Social History, The Bystander, The Gaiety Theatre, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray – Peggy – The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News – Saturday 4th February 1911


The well-known musical comedy artist, who is rehearsing for the new Gaiety Theatre piece.

Gabrielle Ray – Photograph – January 1911

June 24, 2022 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Peggy, Social History, The Gaiety Theatre, The Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray – Peggy – The Tatler – Wednesday 15th March 1911


All the frocks in Peggy at the Gaiety are too utterly ravishingly delightful for anything, and the play is all one wants and looks for! A detachment of the S.P.C.A. would, I should think, have a field day there were it a punishable offence to wear more than £50 worth of aigrettes at one time, for the becoming ornament flourishes positively in bushes. Edna May’s “Ornamental Purity Brigade” also might get a look-in, for there is not, needless to say, a petticoat on the stage from start to finish, though there are some quite fascinating things in trouser skirts.

The new leading lady, charming Miss Phyllis Dare who has acquired I see yet another new motor of the latest torpedo shape – remains true, of course, to the “little girl” simplicity type, as also Olive May and Gabrielle Ray, both ravishing in muslin and embroidery and lace like very expensive babies, and looks perhaps her very best in a dainty frocklet in which sky blue, pale pink satin, and rosebuds play a prominent part under a white straw bonnet with pendant ribbons.

The Tatler – Wednesday 15th March 1911

June 4, 2022 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Social History, The Gaiety Theatre, The Tatler, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray – Peggy – Forest Hill & Sydenham Examiner – Friday 15th December 1911



The revised edition of “Peggy” at the Gaiety Theatre goes with a fine swing, and is now one of the best things of its kind in town. Of course the music plays a most important part, and when it is known that Mr. Leslie Stuart is in his happiest vein, success in this direction is assured. Mr. George Grossmith’s part of Auberon Blow is now taken by Mr. Louis Bradfield, who is admirably suited for the part. Mr. Robert Hall repeats his former successes at the Gaiety as Hon. James Bendoyle M.P, and Mr. Edmund Payne, keeps the house laughing the whole time he is on the stage. Of the ladies in the cast Miss Phyllis Dare is very fascinating and vivacious as Peggy Barrison, and sings with marked ability, while the Dorris Bartle of Miss Olive May, leaves nothing to be desired.

A word must not be omitted for Miss Connie Ediss who is very happily cast as Lady Snoop, and wins much applause for her quaint witticism, and Miss Gabrielle Ray, as Polly Polino scores heavily. Space will not permit to deal with the other parts which are all capitally played, and the scenery and setting are of a most elaborate description and well maintain the reputation of this elegant house of entertainment.


Forest Hill & Sydenham Examiner – Friday 15th December 1911


April 21, 2022 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Peggy, Social History, The Gaiety Theatre, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray – Peggy – The Weekly Dispatch (London) – Sunday 26th February 1911


New Gaiety Play.

 Next Saturday evening Mr. George Edwardes will reopen the Gaiety Theatre with the new and as yet unnamed musical comedy by George Grossmith jun. and C. H. Bovill, from the French of Leon Xanrof, with music by Leslie Stuart. This play has been eleven works in rehearsal, and has had to undergo many changes before it pleased Mr. Edwardes. He thinks of calling it either “Pretty Peggy” or “Three Girls,” but may take yet another title instead of these before the curtain goes up. I hear from people in the company that Miss Phyllis Dare will make a very greet personal hit, and that Miss Gabrielle Ray will do the same. They both have personality and charm and are very popular. The comedians are the best the Gaiety Theatre has had – Mr Edmund Payne, Mr. Grossmith jnr., and Mr. Robert Hale. The demand for seats for next is enormous, and, as usual, the Gaiety Theatre will have and audience representative and distinguished.

The Weekly Dispatch London – Sunday 26th February 1911

January 12, 2022 Posted by | Actress, Deltiology, Gabrielle Ray, Peggy, Social History, The Gaiety Theatre, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray – The Orchid – The Graphic – Saturday 31st October 1903

As early as five o’clock in the morning one man took up his stand outside the gallery. At six was joined by others, and, as the morning wore on, the little crowd grew, till by half-past nine it numbered some twenty or thirty. Many messenger boys were engaged to keep the places of those first-nighters who could not spare the time themselves. In the afternoon there was a heavy shower, which did not add to the comfort of the patient crowd. Our photograph was supplied by Bolak






“The Orchid”


THE task of getting to the GAIETY Theatre through the rattling showers and flooded streets of Monday evening was a little difficult, but in all else the stately and luxurious new playhouse which Mr. George Edwardes has caused to be erected hard by the site of its now vanished predecessor and namesake, may be said to have commenced its career under the happiest auspices. The management, as the reader is aware, stand by the traditions of the house, within whose walls the old-fashioned formless “burlesque” passed, by a regular process of evolution, into the combination of farce and dancing, music and story, which is now known by the not very distinctive description of “musical play.”

Mr. Edwardes has once more invoked the aid of half a dozen practised hands; it is, in fact, the permanent staff – Mr. J. T. Tanner furnishing the book, with the exception of the lyrics, which are supplied by Mr. Adrian Ross and Mr. Percy Greenback, while Mr. Ivan Caryll and Mr. Lionel Monckton have composed the music, and Mr. Paul Rubens has contributed “additional numbers.” Mr. Tanner has on this occasion gone further afield than usual in search of his leading motive. Mr. Tanner has handled the idea of orchid-worship in his own way, subdued it to his humorous purposes, and interwoven it with a double, or rather triple, love story, which is found capable of giving rise to many diverting situations. I do not, of course, propose to follow in any detail the windings of The Orchid, the first act of which passes in this country in the grounds of the Countess of Barwick’s Horticultural College, while the second act carries us away, together with the chief part of the personages of the piece, to the Place Massena and the Grand Opera House at Nice in carnival time – scenes that were received with enthusiastic applause. Both time and space, indeed, would fail to tell, even in outline, why Mr. Aubrey Chesterton, our Minister of Commerce, is bound under the terms of a wager to procure a certain precious orchid and deliver it in Paris by an appointed date or how, with this object in view, he is fain to enlist the services of his scapegrace nephew, the Honorable Guy Scrymgeour; not to speak of Zaccary, a professional orchid hunter, whose, happy hunting-ground is in the fields of far Peru; or how the precious plant – which, by the way, seems to be capable of surviving much ill-usage – falls, on and off, into the hands of Meakin, the quaint little gardener of the Horticultural College. Still less easy would it be to explain how the whirl of events arising from this datum is associated with a clandestine marriage at the local Registrar’s between Scrymgeour and Miss Zaccary, a pupil-teacher at the College, simultaneously with the union, before the same functionary, of Scrymgeour’s impecunious young medical friend Fausset with the sprightly and bewitching Lady Violet Annstruther. Yet another engaged couple appears in the forefront of these erratic proceedings, for little Meakin, in a captivating disguise, has wooed the vulgar, wealthy, good-natured Caroline Twining, and is only waiting for the expected pecuniary fruits of the “orchid hunt” to claim his bride. Such are a few indications of the story, for which the composers have written clever songs and tuneful music.

The piece is supported by the whole strength of the GAIETY company. Miss Gertie Millar has not hitherto been seen to so much advantage as in the part of Lady Violet. Her song, “Please Inquire of Little Mary,” was among the most notable successes of the evening. Mr. Edmund Payne’s Meakin had the merit of improving as the piece developed. His tramp duet with Mr. George Grossmith junior, who played Scrymgeour with much comic force, is among the happiest of the humorous episodes but Mr. Payne’s peculiar vein of drollery found, perhaps, its best expression in the mock duel with the Count de Cassignat, which forcibly recalled the exploits of Mr. Acres in King’s Mead Fields. That great favourite of Gaiety audiences, Miss Connie Ediss, who plays Caroline Twining, is specially fortunate in her songs – notably in her mock sentimental duet, “Life is an Omelette,” with Mr. Payne. Miss Ethel Sydney’s refined singing and dancing in the part of Josephine Zaccary also contribute much to the success of the piece.

The Graphic – Saturday 31st October 1903

September 10, 2020 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Social History, The Gaiety Theatre, The Orchid, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray – The Orchid – The Tatler – Wednesday 11th November 1903

The Grand Finale in “The Orchid” at the New Gaiety Theatre.


Our photographer is to be congratulated on the splendid flashlight effect he has secured in the final scene of The Orchid at the Gaiety Theatre. We are here shown the interior of the opera house at Nice, where all the principal actors and actresses engaged in The Orchid come in front of the stage. In the centre will be noticed Miss Gertie Millar and Miss Connie Ediss; next her is Mr. Edmund Payne, then we see to the left Miss Ethel Sydney and Mr. George Grossmith, jun. Flashlight effects of this kind are not yet all one hopes to see them, but this picture is very interesting. It is a pity that one is not able to get an equally good impression of an audience, particularly the audience of a first-night performance


The Tatler – Wednesday 11th November 1903


The Orchid (Rotary 3191 F) shows other members of the cast named



August 4, 2020 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Social History, The Gaiety Theatre, The Orchid, The Tatler, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Tatler – Wednesday 11th November 1903


Dramatic and Musical Gossip of the Week.

A Charming Dancer. –  Miss Gabrielle Ray as Thisbe at the new Gaiety gives promise of qualifying to win a place in the long roll of famous dancers. She has been five years in musical comedy, having made a beginning as Mamie Clancy in The Belle of New York with a company toured by Mr. Ben Greet. Then followed two years in his Casino Girl company as Dolly Twinkle, the part originated it the Shaftesbury by Miss Marie George. Four years previous to her engagement by Mr. Ben Greet Miss Ray had appeared as a child actress in a drama called Proof at the Elephant and Castle, and several pantomime parts in the provinces followed. A year ago she went to the Gaiety to under study Miss Gertie Millar in The Toreador, and from there went to the Apollo, where she has played Miss Letty Lind’s and Miss Ella Snyder’s parts without suffering by comparison. Miss Ray is neither French nor American as is surmised but comes from Lancashire.

The Tatler – Wednesday 11th November 1903

December 9, 2019 Posted by | Actress, Biography, Gabrielle Ray, Social History, The Belle of New York, The Casino Girl, The Gaiety Theatre, The Orchid, The Tatler, The Toreador, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Toreador – The Linkman – Programme – 3rd July 1903


August 3, 2019 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Social History, The Gaiety Theatre, The Linkman, The Toreador, Theatre Programme, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment