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 – See See – Truth – Wednesday 27th June 1906




French plays have taken to roosting in England. They are like a flock, not of rooks, but, say, birds of paradise – which, by the way, belong to the same ornithological group as do rooks, and thus my metaphor less forced than might appear. They flutter across Channel escorted by thievish jackdaws, and form a sort of paradisery in the West End, with, in many cases, “extensions” to the suburbs and provinces. They undergo considerable adventures, for the Lord Chamberlain is himself much interested in ornithology, and always pulls out some of their most startlingly gorgeous   plumes on their arrival, for which substitutes are supplied, in the case of “See-See” by the ingenious Mr. Charles Brookfield, whose libretto has many smart epigrams of true Britannic growth. Mr. Adrian Ross supplies a succession of dainty lyrics, which wed happily with the music of Mr. Sidney Jones, whose golden spurs were bound on by “The Geisha” herself. Here he does not disappoint us, and indeed shows in some respects an advance upon “The Geisha,” for the orchestration aspires rather toward the operatic than toward the mere titillation of the ear with catchy tunes; it is melodious rather than airified. “See-See” differs from many of its fellows in having a definite plot, which, although it develops slowly owing to the exigencies of individual artists, such as Mr. Huntley Wright, for whose delightful quaintnesses room must be found at all costs, culminates nevertheless in a real dilemma with a logical solution.

My readers have already had ample opportunity to acquaint themselves with the difficulties of Mr. Maurice Farkoa Yen, who falls in love with Miss See-See Orme, although he is already betrothed by his father to Miss Adrienne Augarde Lee, the daughter of an old friend. They doubtless know how Lee loves Hang-Kee Huntley Wright, a gentleman of pleasant wit and infinite resource, who arranges with his foster-sister, See-See, that she shall take Lee’s place, and that he shall personate Lee’s father, Mr. Hoang Emney, on their betrothal visit to that father’s friend, Mr. Cheoo Berry. Their amiable object in thus masquerading is to disgust Mr. Cheoo Berry with a lurid description of the unspeakable iniquities committed by his friend Mr. Hoang Emney in the course of amassing his vast fortune. Here we have a situation of amusing farcical comedy, for Mr. Cheoo Berry is altogether deceived as to the identity of his friend, whom he has not seen for years. He is reassured as to the great difference in height between the present and past Hoang Emney by Mr. Hang-Kee Huntley Wright’s lucid explanation that he had grown down in the interval. All seems plain sailing, and it must be easy to disgust the father of Yen with the narrative of Hoang Emney’s iniquities. But Cheoo Berry is neither surprised nor disgusted. Once he has made sure that the fortune is really there he looks upon the means by which it was acquired with indifference. It was all done in the way of trade, and is no concern of his. Mr. Berry and Mr. Huntley Wright are admirable in this scene, which perforce leads up to the shrew-taming episode of See-Bee’s forced marriage to Yen, whom she refuses to obey with a pretty petulance that soon melts before the masterfulness of Petruchio Yen Farkoa.

All these details and much beside must be familiar to many, but they should be advised to visit the Prince of Wales’s Theatre and see with their own eyes those beautiful harmonies of the cardinal colours, green and red, which dominate the Lotus Room in the Palace of Pearls, and to revel in the Asiatic opulence of Cheoo’s Garden, which is the scene of the other act, and the work of Mr. Hawes Craven, whom I have so often extolled in these columns. The first is to be credited to Mr. J. Harker.

The human accessories of the play manoeuvre with perfect elegance and precision, and in the unexpectedness of their groupings and windings in and out it is easy to trace the thought of Mr. Sydney Ellison. Among the episodes, boyish Miss Gabrielle Ray, habited marvellously in green or in pink, with a very becoming hat modelled on that of the classical Mercury, dancing directly into the favour of the audience, and singing thence of Chinese dollies, or joining in the “Bamboo” trio with that pretty treble of hers, remains most vivid in the memory. A patter quartet, “The Bill of Fare,” brings us down to culinary regions. See-See finds in Miss Denise Orme a singer of “Snowflakes and Roses,” and of another solo with chorus that took my fancy, “Won’t he be surprised?” I was not surprised but pleased, and I have no doubt that Miss Denise Orme and Mr. Maurice Farkoa will form a happy conjunction of stars when they have had time to settle down to their parts. The latter played his Petruchio scene for all it was worth, and acquitted himself well of his love songs in his own individual style, which has this quality of art that they do not vary, their outline is always the same, mutatis mutandis.  Mr. Huntley Wright’s song, “British Slavery,” has nothing to do with the play beyond being the greatest hit of the evening, and also a hit at a number of Western institutions.


Free, free is the happy Chinee,

But there, on that isle in the waves,

It’s the man with the hod who’s a little tin god,

And the people who pay are the slaves,


is a specimen from the varying chorus and a good sample of the whole. He and Mr. Berry chiefly provide the comic element, which they will doubtless develop yet further, as is the custom in these pieces. Their duet which deals with the farcical situation to which I have referred went very well on the first night, and is really amusing. I quote two couplets.

Huntley Wright Hang-Kee sings:

I have cheated, I have stolen, I have swindled,

And my wife has once performed on a trapeze.

H. Berry Cheoo replies:

But your wealth has grown although your virtues dwindled,

So we’ll say no more about it, if you please.

Well, I seem to have said a good deal about “See-See,” perhaps more than enough to send many of my readers to see See for themselves, but I observe the large eyes of Lee which seem to say, “You have said nothing about us.” Your “Butterfly” solo is a credit to you and to your musician, Mr. Frank Tours, Miss Adrienne Augarde Lee. We can never see too much of Lee when so much of Lee sees us.


Truth – Wednesday 27th June 1906



March 18, 2020 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, See See, Social History, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray – A Girl on the Stage – Truth – Wednesday 9th May 1906





“The Little Cherub” has grown to be “A Girl on the Stage.” The girl has retained a good many of the attributes of the cherub, but whereas formerly there was no son to the Earl of Sanctobury, that peer of Exeter-Hall-cum-Tivoli propensities is now credited with a son and heir, who loves, becomes engaged to, and eventually marries Miss Molly Montrose. Mr. Owen Hall now makes the elderly peer wish to marry the maiden, and develops the cross-purposes of father and son, ending in a conflict between parental and amorous proclivities on the part of the former. Of course, Lord Sanctobury yields, and Miss Molly Montrose marries Mr. Lionel Mackinder.

The chief charm of Saturday evening last lay in the appearance of Miss Ruth Vincent as Molly Montrose. This lady showed us in “Veronique” that she could sing, could act, and withal foot it neatly, a happy result of the Savoy training, which showed itself clearly in the performance of the latest of the school. This became evident again with the singing of Mr. Ivan Caryll’s ”Rather Nice,” and in the duet of the second act with Mr. Mackinder. Miss Vincent quite won our hearts. Little did we think that those hearts were going so soon to be tried; little did we imagine as Miss Vincent prepared in the last act to sing of “Love and Laughter,” “the best things in the world,” that tears would flow instead. Yet at the very moment that the conductor’s wand awaited the first vocal note, with a tiny cry Miss Vincent fell back insensible on the stage. This was by far the most dramatic moment of the evening, and little attention was paid to the doings of Mr. Edouin, who came forward to continue the piece, until we had a message to say that it was only a fainting fit, and that Miss Vincent would be well enough to continue in a few moments. I shall not forget for a long while the emotion of that pretty blonde pierrette figure with “love and laughter” on her lips, and her audience hanging on these, suddenly, as it were, called back to the vale of tears and carried off the stage insensible. It was as if Nature had said: “I, too, can be dramatic, and I will show you my power in your own human play exactly at the dramatic moment.”

I must not dwell longer upon this incident, which closed so happily with the reappearance of Miss Vincent, hand-in-hand with Miss Zena Dare, herself the very spirit of girlish gaiety, and in the new play provided with an attractive song, “Cupid and the Pierrot,” which she delivers from the rostrum of a high-backed chair with great effect. Miss Gabrielle Ray’s piping treble echoes all through the play, and she, too, has a new song, “Merry-go-round,” which she sings in grey tights, with a background of purple-clad men. Mr. Willie Edouin played the part of the elderly peer with much punctilio, but I seemed to miss the merry twinkle and the apparent irresponsibility which has so often captivated me in this comedian. Mr. Berry, as Shingle, the valet, came out very strong in his topical song of the last act, and fairly won the house. He dealt with all manner of subjects, from the policy of the Government to the disaster at San Francisco, and his description of Signor Caruso seated clad only in his shirt in the garden of the tumbling hotel and singing “Blow, gentle breeze,” was in the best spirit of opera bouffe.

There are two girls less among the principals, but the great principles are maintained, and plenty of others newly and gorgeously attired are to hand, headed by Miss Dunbar, who sings of them as “Currants in a Bun,” “Dairy Maids,” “Bath Buns,” “Currant Buns,” “Girls Behind the Counter,” “On the Stage,” those who leave it to marry peers, etc. – one cannot walk a step without meeting them. But many petticoats do not make talent; that is always rare, though you will see both at the Prince of Wales’ Theatre when you see Miss Ruth Vincent.


Truth – Wednesday 9th May 1906


March 15, 2020 Posted by | A Girl on the Stage, Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Social History, The Little Cherub, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gabrielle Ray – The Little Cherub – Truth – Thursday 18th January 1906






Mr. Owen Hall is said to have taken from the French play “Decore” the germ of “The Little Cherub,” but be that as it may, one can say with truth that little or nothing of French inspiration now pervades the piece to be discussed. The Earl of Sanctobury objects on principle to the stage, meets for the first time in his life an actress, is fascinated into following her to Dunbridge Baths, and concludes by marrying the lady. He has daughters whose private theatricals are abomination to him at first, but their chance discovery of their father at supper with the actress forces him to look leniently for the future on things theatrical: With this for central idea are connected an Indian Prince, various gentlemen of rank, friends of Lord Sanctobury, and the valet of that peer.

The play is of the musical comedy sort, consisting of trivial developments upon the above theme which serve as pegs on which to hang songs. Mr. Owen Hall’s book contains, as one expects from him, many witty and some mordant lines, such as this; “A good woman has nothing to confide in her husband, and a bad woman daren’t confide in him.” The best characterised personage is Shingle, Lord Sanctobury’s valet, which Mr. Berry made to stand out in relief against a dull background. His song, “A Gentleman’s Gentleman,” was one of the successes of the first act, and in the third act his political warble, “I Wasn’t Engaged for That,” a song with chorus, rightly captivated the audience. The fault of “The Little Cherub” seems to be that we are not sufficiently interested in the story, and the players for the most part fail to interest us themselves. The play suffered also from the slowness of the time at which the dialogue was taken. The utterance of puns and gibes and frivolities should be rapid, should have the crispness of farce. Miss Evie Greene, who played the actress Molly Montrose, was the chief sinner in this respect. She spoke her lines with a deliberation worthy of Epictetus, due, perhaps, to a difficulty in remembering them, or to nervousness, for this lady does not do herself justice at first performances. Her singing in some respects atoned for the monotony of the rest, and the air of her song “Experience” as of her song with the Rajah entitled “Pearls,” are likely to haunt the barrel-organs of the future. Where the chief woman’s part is taken with such gravity, the others perforce are also impeded in their progress, but Miss Zena Dare was an exception. As Lady Isabel, daughter of the Earl of Exeter Hall, she brought into her part some of that lightness and gracious vivacity which made her “Catch of the Season” a creation of its kind. Her singing and saying of the lyric “I should so love to be a boy” ending with the melon off the supper table turned into an impromptu football for Miss Ray to kick into the stage box, was a bright moment. Lady Isobel is accompanied in all her doings by three other young ladies, daughters of the Earl. Of these, Miss Gabrielle Ray, with her shrill treble voice, is the most prominent, and to her must be accorded the triumph of the evening. This was a song called “Cupid’s Rifle Range,” coming late in the last act. Habited as Cupid with a gun slung bandolier wise across her shoulder (of course, it should be a bow and arrows), attended by four tiny maidens, she sings to a melting melody and shoots as she sings at a row of marionettes pendent from a framework of flowers. A victim falls with each discharge. Mr. Adrian Ross and Mr. Frank Tours, the writers, and Mr. Ivan Caryll, the musician of this lyric, deserve credit for their performance. Of the other ladies, Miss Elise Claire as waitress at the hotel has a dance with Mr. Arthur Hope as the waiter, of which they make a success, and Miss Lily Elsie a song, “Baby Bayswater,” not without pungency, to which she adds grace.

Mr. Fred Kaye played with deliberateness the part of the Earl, and evoked a smile from time to time. But that deliberateness! Mr. Lennox Pawle, as the aristocrat chaperoning the daughters of the Earl to Dunbridge Baths, might, with advantage, appear less soused with less dirty water than in the beginning of Act 11. when he has saved a professional swimmer from drowning. The sight of him is not agreeable until he changes his clothes, but apart from this he has moments of humour and drollery in his diction. Mr. Maurice Farkoa, as the Rajah, is simply Mr. Maurice Farkoa. He warbles ditties of the girls to be taken out to tea, lunch, and supper, of the only girl he ever loved; he combines with Miss Ida Lytton in a duet that does credit to both: “The Invitation to the Waltz.” Mr. Farkoa imparts into his work that elegance, refinement, and lightness of touch which is the heritage of his race.

The curtain fell upon the “Little Cherubs” amid much applause, while with the applause was mingled the fog – horn of the first – nighter in the gallery. Mr. Adrian Ross, whose music deserved it, bowed thanks before the curtain. Mr. George Edwardes, in response to calls for a speech, also came before the curtain and saluted with the eloquence of silence.


Truth Thursday 18th January 1906


March 14, 2020 Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, Social History, The Little Cherub, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment