Connie Ediss (1871-1934)
By Paul Rubens, Cecil Raleigh, and Arthur Wimperis.
Produced at the Gaiety Theatre, 24th February, 1912.
Reveiwed from the Daily Mail (London) - 26th February, 1912
GAIETY THEATRE AT ITS BRIGHTEST - ANOTHER SUCCESS FOR MR. G. EDWARDES
It is pleasant to be able to pronounce at once and without hesitation the opinion that the new Gaiety piece is worthy to become, as it must in due course, an old Gaiety success. Of its first-night success there was never on Saturday evening a moment's doubt.
An experience of typical Gaiety triumphs dating back from the days of Phyllis Dare, George, Grossmith junior, and Edmund Payne to those of Kate Vaughan, Edward Terry, and E. W. Royce does not enable one to recall a first act which went here with more assured animation and melodious mirth than did that of "The Sunshine Girl" at her popular premiere. That experience does, however, remind one of the characteristic newspaper manifesto in which Mr. George Edwardes's predecessor, John Hollingshead, defined some production of his thirty years ago as "a favourable specimen of the new school of burlesque, in which artistic dancing is substituted for the cellar-flap breakdown, in which the music is carefully selected and executed in a manner worthy of comic opera, and in which gracefully designed costumes take the place of the old red, green, end blue abominations."
Much the same might, mutatis mutandis, be fairly said of this latest example of musical comedy as provided by the joint efforts of Messrs. Paul Rubens, Cecil Raleigh, and Arthur Wimperis. In point of symmetry of design and neatness of execution, of apt musical and dainty decorative illustration "The Sunshine Girl" is assuredly a "favourable specimen" of its "new school." It has its defects, no doubt. Its plot leaves something to be desired in the matter of freshness and ingenuity. Its literary wit is confined to its lyrics, and its humour too often seems dependent upon the casual invention of its interpreters.
LOVE VERSUS LUCRE
But it is jolly good fun and tripping tunefulness throughout, and neither in mirth nor in melody is a single false note struck from beginning to end. As to the story, neither it nor its telling amounts to very much, but it is not in Gaiety musical comedy that "the play's the thing." The framework of simple sentiment upon which are hung the unpretentious humours of ditty, dance, and "business" generally is provided by our old friend the crabbed uncle, who leaves his equally familiar acquaintance, the lovesick nephew, a fortune on condition that he gives up love for lucre and avoids even engaging himself to be married for a period of five years.
The idealised soap-works of Port Sunshine are Vernon Blundell's tantalising inheritance, and since the workgirls there have evidently been chosen for their good looks and their pretty ways, the young legatee is tempting Providence when he joins them incognito as a fellow-worker in his own factory. He does something rasher still when he invites his friend Lord Bicester to pose in his place as the new proprietor, while he tests the affection of Delia Dale, the most fascinating of Port Sunshine's soap sirens. The inevitable flirtation between friend and fiancee is followed by the inevitable jealousy, which does not subside until the youthful soapboiler has discovered that he is loved for himself alone and without regard for the fortune which lies in the lap of the gods and of the opportune family solicitor, who settles its destination at the final fall of the curtain.
MISS CONNIE EDISS'S DROLLERY
So much for the sentiment: the fun comes in with the arrival at Port Sunshine of a semi-detached couple, an ex-cabman engaged upon a walk from Land's End to John o' Groat's, and a cook with a coming on disposition characteristic of her confidence in her massive charms. As this preposterous pair are none other than Mr. Edmund Payne and Miss Connie Ediss, their welcome by all lovers of riotous laughter is assured. Miss Ediss in particular revels in the reckless drollery of what is in every way the fattest part that she has ever had in her life.
With her elephantine gambollings in her beloved "Brighton" and her confidence as to her treatment by "that Mr. Baroda" when she "went to the Durbar," she does and says things to which only she could impart dashing fun without distressing vulgarity. As to Mr. Payne, he enjoys himself thoroughly in his "Lazy" and in his much better numbers, his duets - with illustrative business ad libitum - "When Ladies Have Their Way" and "In Your Defence." For the former he has as his colleague Miss Sealby, a piquant recruit, who had promptly "made good" earlier in the evening with her spirited "Get a Move On," while in the policeman duet his colleague was Mr. Grossmith, untiring as ever in his angular eccentricities.
Another rich comicality in which Mr. Payne has his share is a capital laughing quartet about "What the Butler Saw." Mr. George Barrett, as second comedian, has his best chance in the burlesque sentimentality of "The Kitchen Range," while Miss Olive May's single opportunity comes, rather late in the day, with "Miss Blush." But the prettiest of all Mr. Rubens's numbers, as light in their substance as a souffle and as exhilarating in the spirit as champagne, naturally fall to the lot of the Sunshine Girl herself. These are "A Tiny Touch" and "Take me for," both sung with the daintiest possible point by Miss Phyllis Dare, and her three duets, "Love," "Ladies" - with an exquisite little dance at the end - and "The Argentine," in which, with Mr. Basil Foster and Mr. Grossmith for successive partners, she scores some of the chief hits of the tuneful evening. Miss Dare has never been seen and heard to such advantage as in the singularly tasteful dress and tripping lilt of the Sunshine workgirl, while Mr. Grossmith, surrounded by the bevy of beauties to whom he sings, "Little Girl, mind how you go!" is just the Grossmith whom the Gaiety loves best.
Movie Credits (source www.imdb.com)
1930 - A Warm Corner [Mrs. Corner]
1932 - The Temperance Fete [Mrs. Hearty]
1933 - Night of the Garter [Fish]