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 – The Dollar Princess – The Nottingham Guardian – Monday 26th September 1910



There was a rush for seats at Daly’s Theatre on Saturday night for the first anniversary for the “Dollar Princess” After her success with the “Merry Widow” it seemed difficult for Miss Lily Elsie to score another triumph, but she has done so, and the celebration was marked by a souvenir of signed portraits of all the chief artists presented to everyone in the house. Miss Gabrielle Ray, Miss Elizabeth Firth, Mr Joseph Coyne, Mr. Michelis, and Mr. Berry, all had an enthusiastic welcome. There were some fresh topical numbers for Mr. Berry, including a hit at Mr. Lloyd-George, and the dances and songs are now recognised favourites, but have kept their freshness all the same. Not the least reason for this is the brilliant way in which this musical is produced.


The Nottingham Guardian – Monday 26th September 1910


March 23, 2023 Posted by | Actress, Daly's Theatre, Gabrielle Ray, Social History, The Dollar Princess, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lily Elsie – The Dollar Princess – The Tatler – Wednesday 10th November 1909

Lily Elsie – The Dollar Princess (Rotary 11555 A)

March 4, 2023 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Dollar Princess, The Tatler, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dollar Princess – The Tatler – Wednesday 6th October 1909


 “The Merry Widow” –

AS long as The Merry Widow was running the ‘”creature” and I were a divided couple. She considered it the most fascinating piece she had ever seen. The acting, the music, and the whole ensemble were to her perfection. For myself there was hardly a part of it – the famous waltz included – that did not leave me cold and critical. Now happily our differences in appreciation have come to an end. We have both at last discovered a piece for which we possess mutual enthusiasm. Its name is The Dollar Princess and it was performed for the first time in London at Daly’s Theatre last week.

And her Predecessor.

Few first nights are so really enjoyable as those at Daly’s Theatre. Few there are which bring together a smarter or more brilliant audience. The “creature” looked positively dazzling in her best frock with her hair done round in the now fashionable bandage that its devotees fondly believe to be Grecian but which in reality looks like nothing more becoming than a headache plaster. The enthusiasm everybody who was anybody received from the hands of the gods and those in the nethermost pit must have been most gratifying to them if a trifle embarrassing. Miss Marie Tempest came in for a goodly share and so did Gertie Millar, while as if to accentuate the hollowness of public praise Miss Edna May, that favourite of such a short time ago, was allowed to enter and disappear without a murmur of welcome. And if every actor and actress of note got their round of applause as they entered the auditorium how much more enthusiastic was the cheering that greeted the performers on the stage. No queen could have received a greater ovation than did Miss Lily Elsie when she made her first appearance coming down the marble staircase of Mr. Harry Conder’s house in New York, while as for the cheering which greeted Mr. Joseph Coyne it was perfectly delirious. Throwing her decorum to the winds as it were the “creature” clapped with the wildest of them. The consequence is that she retired at night with about two fingers and a black-looking rag to take the place of what were once long white suede gloves at but hush, we are not at Selfridges’s.

Plenty of Go.

The Dollar Princess has had the advantage of being previously produced at Manchester before making its bow to London audiences. This has doubtless eliminated a good deal of that superfluous matter which even now still protrudes itself from time to time. It has also enabled Mr. George Edwardes to elaborate those more delightful portions which as they now stand seem incapable of further improvement. All these things prove of an enormous advantage on a “first night.” It is also the exception where musical comedy is concerned. The first act of The Dollar Princess went as well the other evening as it will probably ever go. There was not a hitch anywhere, and it was played by the company with a swing and a verve that was perfectly enchanting. It is, moreover, the best act of the three, and in it Mr. Robert Michaelis, comparatively unknown to Londoners until then, made a very great success. It will probably enable him to remain in the metropolis for the rest of his theatrical career. He has a good stage presence, a fine baritone voice, sings and acts artistically, and if he will but guard against certain mannerisms and affectations somewhat reminiscent of Hayden Coffin will speedily develop into a really first-class artist.

The Story.

The story of The Dollar Princess is quite original enough and far more amusing than that of the average musical comedy. The first act, for which Mr. George Edwardes has provided a perfectly magnificent setting, takes place in Conder’s house in New York. The owner of it is a multimillionaire with a partiality for engaging impoverished members of the British aristocracy as his menials. Over this household rules Alice (Miss Lily Elsie), Conder’s sister, who it may be remarked does so with the proverbial rod of iron. There is not one of her associates who can come near her in prettiness, but she is as wilful as she is charming. She likes to domineer over these aristocrats which her money has brought so low; thus she is all the more astonished when one arrives who for rudeness can beat her at her own game as it were. Nevertheless, in order to tame him she engages him as her secretary. But the task she sets herself is too difficult for her. After falling violently in love with him as he, by the way, has done with her she makes her brother insist upon him marrying her. But her victim only laughs at the idea. He will have nothing to do with a girl who believes that money and money only will gratify every desire in life.


This decision of his brings us up to the great denouement at the end of the second act, when Alice, baffled, heart-broken, and in despair, seizes hold of another man, dances wildly with him, and at length falls fainting and sobbing into her brother’s arms. It is a scene some what reminiscent of A Waltz Dream, but it is very effective nevertheless, and offers Miss Lily Elsie a moment of highly emotional acting which positively electrified the house. Indeed, Miss Elsie has never done anything half so good as her Dollar Princess.

The Company.

Of course all ends happily at last as is only right. Alice and her secretary pair off together, as do her brother, Harry Conder, with Olga, the lion-tamer, and her cousin Daisy with the Earl of Quorn. Mr. Joseph Coyne as the afore said brother is as airy, as debonair, and as delightful as ever he was as Prince Danilo, and none ol his countless admirers could wish for more. There is no more fascinating light comedian in London. Miss Emmy Wehlen as the lion-taming lady sings nicely, acts well, but by no manner of means looks the part. Mr. W. H. Berry was very funny indeed as Bulger, a confidential clerk to Conder, and Miss Gabrielle Ray, though she had too much to sing and too little to dance, was dainty. The dresses and scenery are among the loveliest that London has ever seen. The music is very charming and the orchestration quite masterly.

The Tatler – Wednesday 6th October 1909


March 3, 2023 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Dollar Princess, The Tatler, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray – The Dollar Princess – The Gentlewoman – Saturday 2nd October 1909

Plays and Players

“The Dollar Princess” at Daly’s.

We are finding a use once again for the pensive, pining waltz, which clings as fondly to its own main theme as the Daly stage hero clings to the Daly stage heroine in the dancing of it, and whose melody-in-chief, having successfully stood the test of every variation of volume, finally goes off in a thin and languorous whisper to its well-earned rest among the folds of silken purple curtains. There were “Merry Widow” waltzes by the dozen at the Cinderellas of twenty years ago; and now, thanks to the influence of that amazingly popular bit of “tempo di valse,” and to that of its twin sister in the new piece at Daly’s, “The Dollar Princess,” we are going to have them by the score. And it is well that we are, for what is more refreshing to the soul of the young and old and middle-aged alike than “that romantic feeling,” or more calculated to keep the feeling well within call than the languishing strains of what used to be called in early Victorian novels, “the intoxicating waltz”? So good luck to “The Dollar Princess,” if only for its “Dollar Princess” waltz! And, of course, there are heaps and heaps of other attractions, including an original story, which very nearly comes to be told in a coherent fashion, and is only stopped from making the acquaintance of that rare sensation by a desire on the part of Mr. George Edwardes to remain on the very best terms with tradition.  It is unwise, when you make a success with a certain kind of production, to follow it on with features liable at any moment to mark a conspicuous departure, and no doubt Mr. Edwardes has not only satisfied himself but his public also in seeing to it that the Daly story “thins off” in the same fashion as the Daly waltz. Alice, the “dollar princess,” lives in a New York palace of vulgar magnificence, and it is the whim of her brother, Harry Q. Conder, a millionaire (a character which gives ample scope to the subtle drolleries of Mr. Joseph Coyne), that both he and she shall be waited upon by hard-up members of the British aristocracy, tempted to America for the purpose by enormous salaries. (This, no doubt, is the author’s delicate little hint at what our “big families” must expect when the Budget is in full swing.) Much fun is made out of the idea, and much love also, the chief manufacturers of the latter commodity being Alice herself (in the fascinating person of Miss Lily Elsie) and Freddy Fairfax, who becomes her secretary, and subsequently her husband; a delightfully melodious young gentleman, whose impersonator is Mr. Robert Michaelis “with songs,” and, be it said, with a by no means bad style of acting. Mr. Michaelis, indeed, is head and shoulders above the usual singing hero of musical comedy, and represents one of the reasons why the new piece at Daly’s must, and will, be seen and heard by everybody. Haunting waltzes, of a somewhat conventional breed, apart, Mr. Leo Fall’s music abounds in fresh and interesting passages, especially where freshness and interest are particularly wanted i.e., towards the close of the entertainment. In short, Mr. Pall improves as he goes along and this, no doubt, is what the whole piece and all who in it are, will do; for, to tell truth some of the performers on the first night did not seem too happily placed. Mr. H. ‘Berry for instance, as the millionaire’s confidential clerk, had very poor material to deal with; that clever actor, Mr. Evelyn Beerbohm, who appears as Harry Q. Conder’s cousin Dick, brings with him upon the stage but the very smallest reason in the world for his presence there at all at any time. Both he and Mr. Berry seem to be utterly wasted in the show, and it is to be hoped that when all who are in authority at Daly’s have recovered from the confusing delirium of triumph, they will find a calm moment in which to think out some scheme for giving suitable employment to the actors I have named. They are much too good goods to be thrown away. Miss Gabrielle Ray looks very pretty all the evening as Dick’s sister, Daisy; Mr. Willie Warde, as Conder’s footman, Sir James McGregor, is airy and agile, and withal quiet in a certain way; Miss Emmy Wehlen, as Olga, a Lion Queen from the music halls, has a fine presence and a really good voice (her dashing rendering of the song “Alaska,” was one of the greatest features of the evening; and Mr. Basil S. Poster, as John, Earl of Quorn (groom to the millionaire), is a singer of considerable refinement and charm. The mounting of the new piece is always superb, and often artistic, and the dresses are dreams from which the awakening is a shock. I do not think I have ever seen, even at Daly’s, such beautiful costumier’s work.

The Gentlewoman – Saturday 2nd October 1909


February 20, 2023 Posted by | Actress, Daly's Theatre, Gabrielle Ray, Social History, The Dollar Princess, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray – The Dollar Princess

August 2, 2022 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Dollar Princess, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray – The Dollar Princess – The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News – Saturday 13th November 1909

August 1, 2022 Posted by | Actress, Daly's Theatre, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray – The Dollar Princess – The Westminster Gazette – Thursday 23rd September 1909

Many familiar names figure in the cast of “The Dollar Princess,” which is to be presented at Daly’s Theatre on Saturday evening. Miss Lily Elsie, Miss Gabrielle Ray, Mr. Joseph Coyne, and Mr. W. Berry are all established favourites with the musical comedy public, and if the work does not achieve success it will certainly be due to no deficiencies in the method of its presentation. But then such a contingency is, of course, unthinkable, for in the case of a George Edwardes production at Daly’s Theatre success may be assumed as a matter of course.

The Westminster Gazette – Thursday 23rd September 1909

July 24, 2022 Posted by | Actress, Daly's Theatre, Gabrielle Ray, Lily Elsie, Social History, The Dollar Princess, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

May Kinder




A marriage is reported to have taken registry office yesterday between Miss May Kinder and Mr. Henry J Delaval Astley, son of Lady Florence Willoughby. Miss Kinder made her at the Shaftesbury Theatre “The Arcadians,” and is now appearing in “The Dollar Princess” Daly’s Theatre. She is the daughter Mr. and Mrs. William Kinder, Philadelphia, U.S.A., who belong an old Quaker family. The bridegroom, who is 21 years of age, is, through his father, connected with the Barony of Hastings, and, through his mother, with the Marquisate of Conyngham.


The Nottingham Evening Post – Wednesday 27th October 1909



To historical students it would seem a far cry from the stern Puritan, Oliver Cromwell, to The Dollar Princess at Daly’s Theatre, but the association arises through the recent marriage of Miss May Kinder, a pretty actress at Daly’s Theatre, to Mr. Henry Astley, a member of the Russell-Astley family, whose coming of age a few months ago was celebrated with great festivities at Chequers Court in Buckinghamshire, the hereditary seat of the family. The Astleys do not now live at Chequers Court but they did so for two centuries, and they formerly possessed there all the most interesting memorials of Cromwell that have come down to us. Cromwell’s daughter, Frances, married a Russell hence the interesting association. Miss Kinder is an American from Philadelphia. In The Merry Widow she was understudy to Miss Gabrielle Ray in The Dollar Princess she has been playing the part of Dulcie Du Cros, the Californian girl. Mr. Astlev’s mother was of the Marquis Conyngham’s family, thus having a certain relation with Byron.


The Sphere – Saturday 6th November 1909

A Theatrical Marriage.


Miss May Kinder, whose portrait together with her husband, Mr. Henry Jacob Delaval Astlev, is given here, is a young American actress who until her marriage a few days ago was appearing under Mr. George Edwardes’s banner in The Dollar Princess at Daly’s Theatre. A short time ago, it will be remembered, Miss Kinder appeared as Chrysea in The Arcadians at the Shaftesbury, but she was only lent by Mr. Edwardes until the Daly’s new piece was ready. Her husband, who is only just twenty-one, is the son of Lady Florence Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby. It is not expected that Miss Kinder will return to the stage now that she is married, which item of news will certainly fill the hearts of London playgoers with regret. There are few so pretty and modest little actresses appearing in musical comedy as Miss May Kinder, and her charming personality and attractive singing voice will be greatly missed.


The Tatler – Wednesday 10th November 1909

May Kinder appeared in The Merry Widow as Zo-Zo in 1908 and understudied Miss Ray whose part, Frou Frou she played in September 1908. She later played the role of Dulcie du Cros, a Californian Girl in The Dollar Princess at Daly’s in September 1909. She resigned her role in The Dollar Princess soon after marrying Henry Astley on 29th October 1909. On 21st December 1912 Astley was killed whilst demonstrating flying at the Balmoral Show Grounds in Belfast. May inherited her husband’s substantial fortune including Chequers, her husband’s ancestral home which she later sold to Viscount Lee of Fareham who, in 1917, presented it to the nation as a country retreat for Prime Ministers (which remains in use today).


Frost, C. (2016) “The Female Stars of Musical Theatre in Edwardian England,” The Lavenham Press, Lavenham, Suffolk. (p172)


The Dollar Princess – Programme – 1909

Stage and Cromwell – The World’s News Sydney, NSW) – 1909




July 10, 2022 Posted by | Biography, Daly's Theatre, Gabrielle Ray, The Dollar Princess, The Merry Widow, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray – The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News – Saturday 2nd September 1911

June 25, 2022 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Peggy, Social History, The Dollar Princess, The Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray – The Dollar Princess – The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News – Saturday 27th August 1910

April 29, 2022 Posted by | Actress, Daly's Theatre, Gabrielle Ray, Social History, The Dollar Princess, The Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment