A Period Theatre Review presented by www.stagebeauty.net
It is the first night of a new play at the Mascot Theatre. The act drop has fallen and there is the usual interval. Ladies and gentlemen from stalls and circle throng the gorgeous foyer in picturesque confusion. The audience, like the theatre, is a large and fashionable one. Here is naughty Sir Timothy Bun, a small man with a large family. Over there by the stairs is Lady Bun, his wife. Those tall girls who swarm round her, and in numbers and hovering resemble the gulls off Blackfriars Bridge, are his "adopted" daughters "the twelve Bath Buns." Here, again, is Lord Quorn, whose one speech is, "Oh, you are, you know you are," and who, doglike, is on the heels of Miss Truly St. Cyr, the dazzling actress to whom he is engaged.
And there are others. Remarks of the "Delightful!", "Simply ripping!" or "Most amusing!" sort are as plentiful as Spring snowflakes. Obviously the play is a big hit, and Mr. Beverley, the leading actor, is the hero of the night.
In a private box are Mrs. Alington, a widow, who thinks less of the play than of the fact that her sailor son, Dick, whom she has not seen for ten years, may arrive home at any moment, and Lord Bellingham, with his lovely daughter the Hon. Betty Silverthorne, who, doting on actors in general and stage heroes in particular, falls violently in love with Beverley before the play is half over, much to the disgust of her dignified, papa.
I have here a few remarks to make in parenthesis. Some six months ago Mrs. Alington sent her son a photograph of Betty, and so impressed was he with the picture that he instantly tumbled into love.
Now in accordance with the privileges, more or less reasonable, extended to authors of plays and stories, there exists an extraordinary personal likeness between Dick - or to give him his full name, Lieutenant Richard Alington, R.N. - and Mr. Beverley, the actor. It is, in fact, so difficult to tell which is which that once they both appear on the scene, complications and ramifications follow on the heels of each other with almost bewildering rapidity.
Having told you so much, is it not the easiest thing in the world to guess what happens?
Dick of course does come on the scene this same evening. Eager to meet his dearest friend in the world - his mother, he rushes into the theatre while still in his sailor's undress. Naturally, he meets Betty, and instantly recognises the girl he loves. Betty meets Dick, and instantly recognises the man she loves. But with this difference.
She mistakes him for Beverley, who, curiously enough, has been playing a sailor's part and wearing precisely similar clothes. Lord Bellingham, who is most emphatic in presuming that an actor is no fit husband for his daughter, next meets Dick. He, too, thinks the sailor is Beverley, and so he invites him to a ball to be given to-morrow night at Bellingham House, on condition that he shall pretend to be tipsy, in order to cure his daughter's infatuation for him.
The scheme is successfully carried out. In due course the supposed actor creates a terrible disturbance at the ball, and in a scene, reminiscent of "David Garrick," does his level best, or worst, to disgust Betty. Not that it was necessary. He might have saved himself a lot of exertion and remained a gentleman right through, for Betty proves to be far cleverer than her father.
Although she kept it to herself, she saw through the little plot and discovered the dual likeness some time beforehand. Dick she found was not Beverley, and Beverley was not Dick, but Dick was the one and only man on land or sea that she could ever love.
As for Beverley - well, he's got a sweetheart anyhow, so that the final pairing off is doubtless to everybody's satisfaction; and as Dick has just come into five millions (we do not learn how, but that doesn't matter), I have no doubt that even Lord Bellingham is congratulatory.
"The Beauty of Bath" was produced at the Aldwych on Monday evening, March 19th, 1906, by Mr. Charles Frohman. The authors are Mr. Seymour Hicks and Mr. Cosmo Hamilton, with lyrics by Mr. Charles H. Taylor, and music by Mr. Herbert E. Haines. The play is delightful. There is not too much music, but just enough, and if it is sometimes noisy, it is at any rate bright and "catchy." There is plenty of smart dialogue, and several taking ditties. The chorus is pretty, and the scenery - particularly the ballroom at Bellingham House, with its procession of fancy dresses after celebrated paintings - is sumptuous and lovely to look upon. High praise is due to all concerned for the manner in which the play is presented.
The personal popularity and the charm of Mr. Hicks and his wife are incontestable, and it goes without saying that Miss Ellaline Terriss as the "beauty" is as dainty and delightful as only Miss Terriss knows how to be, and that Mr. Hicks as Dick plays throughout with his usual exuberance and buoyancy. Many other talented people contribute to this very excellent entertainment.
These inclulde such popular favourites as Miss Rosina Filippi as Mrs. Alington; Miss Sydney Fairbrother as Mrs. Goodge, once a Bloomsbury lodging-house keeper with an affection for Beverley; Miss Maudi Darrell as the actress Miss St. Cyr; Miss Mollie Lowell, as Lady Bun; Miss Topsy Sinden, with a delightful dance; Miss Barbara Deane, with some pretty singing, and Mr. Stanley Brett, Mr. William Lugg, Mr. Murray King, and a lot of others. Then, too, there is Master Valchera, who as Lemon Goodge, the programme boy at the Mascot, who "loves to be squeezed," is a diminutive entertainment in himself.
They really are very beautiful, the gowns which grace the boards at the Aldwych, and though I would fain dilate at length upon the picturesque charm of the fancy dresses in the second act, yet for the benefit of those who take an interest in "coming modes," I must desist and confine myself chiefly to the first act.
Miss Ellaline Terriss has selected quaint picturesque gowns for both her appearances. Her first frock is of white satin, the skirt set very fully into the waist, bordered and edged on either side of the front by a band of tucked silk, tiny sprays of pink roses connecting the two bands in front. The bodice is high-waisted, and cut square at the neck, the decolletege and sleeves also displaying the bands of tucks. A pale blue sash, with silver ends, encircles the waist, and is tied in front at the left side.
Quite the Piece de resistance is Miss Terriss' theatre coat, a truly lovely garment of hyacinth blue voile, arranged in tucks over the shoulders, and fitted with long wing sleeves; a band of pink silk, embroidered in silver, borders the inside of cloak and sleeves, while upon the outside appears a narrow band of blue silk embroidered in pink, and edged by a tiny blue ribbon pleating. The cloak is unlined and quite transparent.
In the second act the Beauty of Bath wears a dress of white Oriental satin, the full skirt bearing three deep tucks at the hem, and the bodice displaying a soft white frilled fichu. The sleeves are tight to the wrist, and the sash is of gold tissue. This gown is completed by a soft white muslin hat and a scarf of white chiffon, each end bearing wide satin stripes and a rather heavy fringe.
A lovely evening gown Miss Maudi Darrell wears as the fascinating actress. Rich cream lace forms the petticoat and front of the bodice, and this is powdered with pink, green, and silver sequins, sprays of roses and foliage in ribbon embroidery appearing here and there. The sides of the bodice and the rather narrow train are of emerald green Oriental satin.
Lady Bun, as personified by Miss Mollie Lowell, looked very distinguished in a princess gown of rich cream satin, with embroideries of gold and mother o' pearl paillettes upon the bodice, and forming long-pointed tails at the back, a very effective touch being obtained by a black flowing osprey in her hair.
To the lovely gowns worn by other dainty ladies, I fear I can do but scant justice, but there are some which must be described. One, for instance, of pale mauve silk, veiled with white chiffon, the whole gown elaborately embroidered in silver and mauve applique flowers; the front of the bodice blazed with diamonds and silver, and a cluster of mauve feathers was arranged in the hair.
Decidedly striking was a beautiful frock entirely composed of black paillettes, relieved with medallions of mother o' pearl and silver paillettes. The front of the bodice displayed a small pointed vest of white chiffon, lightly covered with jet embroideries, the sleeves being also of white chiffon similarly treated. A sparkling black jet bow and a black osprey adorned the coiffure.
The princess gown was also much in evidence, several being made of velvet. One of this material was in a delicate shade of mauve, the only ornament on the skirt being a ruching at the hem, while the bodice displayed some beautiful silver embroideries.
Another in a shade of grass green had the sleeves and part of the bodice made of pink floral chiffon, while cream lace and touches of green and pink completed a most desirable frock. Of soft pale green silk was one gown composed, the long trained skirt being adorned with bold designs in mauve ribbon, a great deal of mauve appearing on the bodice. Very effective, too, was a frock of purple chiffon, the skirt displaying a band of purple velvet at the hem, and a velvet applique in a leaf design, decorating both skirt and bodice.
One might well be excused for announcing "Honours easy" when contemplating the details of a cerise velvet gown with a pointed lace coat, decked with many pink sequins, and an attractive dress of pale green silk, veiled with rich cream lace, and displaying much embroidery of green paillettes, while running these very close was a third costume of pale green exquisitely embroidered in gold.
I will bring my tale of toilets to a close by describing some delightful frocks in the last act, which I would advise my readers to copy for wear during the coming summer. These were made quite simply, "Empire" fashion, of white spotted muslin, the skirts bordered by two tiny frills. A band of rose-pink silk encircled the bodice just below the short puffed sleeves, while white fichus edged with pink ribbon completed the prettiest frocks imaginable. These gowns were crowned by large white hats draped with floating veils, and clusters of pink roses above and below the brims, a bow and ends of pink ribbon encircling the jam-pot crowns.
It is indeed a case of "Beauty, beauty all round" at the Aldwych. Alas! that mere pen and ink should be so incapable of doing it justice.
EDITH WALDEMAR LEVERTON.
Yes, I have dabbled in several kinds of theatrical ventures, but in none have I met with so much honest fun and excitement (I won't say anything about success), as when I ran a Circus up North. The building was a wooden one, and we had it done up very nicely, putting in padded seats and even electric light.
Our agent set to work to engage the "Colossal Aggregate of Hippodrome Artistes, Continental, English and American," and with the promise of an "entire change of programme weekly," we advertised our opening night. We invited the Mayor, put the ladies of our orchestra into new dresses, and in one way and another made a good big splash. Everything, in fact, seemed to promise a record season. On the Monday morning my partner and self went to the railway station to meet the elephant, our star turn for the first week, and having met it we walked ahead of it down the main street, followed by all the children in the town, plus a few grown-ups and several small dogs. How we longed for our London friends to see us, in that moment of pride. which, by the way, always comes before a fall.
Our troubles started on the opening night. Our band was playing a selection of patriotic airs, and my partner stationed at the front entrance had met the Mayor and party, and given a signal previously arranged between us. The supreme moment had come, and in great state I entered the arena, followed by all our circus attendants, and leading by the hand a little girl with a bouquet for the Mayoress. The Mayor and his party advanced to meet me, when suddenly, without the slightest warning, the main fuse snapped, and every light in the house went out! Result: No show that night and all money returned.
Hoping for better luck we opened again on the Tuesday night. This time the lights were all right, but the business wasn't, and the next two nights were as bad. The whole town would watch our elephant taking his morning walk in the High Street, but towards night interest seemed to dwindle, and when we had been cheered through the stage-door the crowds used to disperse.
What was to be done? On the Friday "The Grand Fashionable Night," we issued 400 invitations to the principal residents, but, would you believe it, out of all these Free Seaters only three people turned up. We felt we hadn't "knocked 'em." Suddenly my partner with a flash of genius, discovered our weakness. We had been trying to run the circus without a horse. Instant action must be taken, so we wired our London agent: "Send something on a horse at once, for next." He did, and then our troubles restarted. Following his directions, our advertisements were got out, "Next week.. Rosie Marie, BareBack Artiste on Her Wild Mustang! Also Mad'lle Gabrielle, Flights of Fancy on her padded thoroughbred!"
Sunday evening arrived and my partner and myself, full of excitement, waited in the dark circus building, for the artistes to arrive. At ten o'clock, a very elderly lady strolled in and looked round. "Who are you?" we asked. "Rosie Marie," was the reply. "Do you know Mad'lle Gabrielle by sight?" we continued. "Course I does. That's me two! I'm both of 'em!" "And what about the padded thoroughbred and wild Mustang?" "Oh, the old man's riding it over from Wigan!"
We did our best with the wild Mustang, but it caught on no better than the elephant, and to crown all a stout gentleman arrived on the Friday, and explained that as he had not received his money for the hire of the horse he was going to take it home, which he did. Our Ring Master came to the rescue on the Saturday night, and in place of the horse turns, did a clog dance on the tan arena. He couldn't dance, but made such a dust that no one could see his feet. So it didn't really matter, and the audience seemed to like him better than the animals. It broke our hearts, however, and having posted bills on our Hippodrome to the effect, that "owing to the enormous lack of patronage, we had decided to close our very successful season," we left that little Northern town with empty pockets.