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STORY OF THE PLAY
BLUE MOON is the romantic sobriquet given to Chandra Nil, a pretty singing maiden. She is supposed to be of Burmese birth, but is really an English lady who had been abducted years before from her mother, Lady Augusta Brabasham, by a rascally deserter from the British Army, who has taken the name of Moolraj, and who, accompanied by a nondescript troupe of jugglers, singers, and sample wives, has for years done a roaring business as a Burmese idol maker, juggler, and marriage broker. In the days of his youth this amusing, not to say amazing, Cockney, was a drummer boy, and one day his insatiable love for the gold he did not possess induced him to steal a sovereign - in his own language a "thick un" - belonging to his superior officer. His flight from the salubrious vicinity of Lambeth Walk to Eastern climes was apparently to prevent detection, but for some reason, not made plain, he took with him the baby girl already referred to.
Chandra Nil when we meet her is sweet seventeen, and the bright particular star - or should I say the moon - of Moolraj's great operatic troupe. Her beauty and her singing bring all men to her feet, but it is left to handsome young Jack Ormsby, a lieutenant, whose regiment is stationed at Naga, to meet and fall headlong in love with her, and which love she is not slow in reciprocating. As often happens where a pretty girl is concerned, Jack has a formidable rival. The artful marriage broker has already engaged his "adopted daughter" to Prince Badahur of Kharikar, a little arrangement which materially dims the brilliancy of Jack's chances. But it all comes right, of course, before the final curtain.
The prince, as the song had it, is "alright when you know him," and having discovered Chandra's love for another, he waits until his own wedding festivities have begun, and then magnanimously hands over his nearly made bride to her true and nearly brokenhearted Jack.
In the meantime that wily old trickster Moolraj has again met the officer he once robbed in the dashing Major Callabone, who happens to be Commandant of the garrison and lady-killer generally at Naga. This unexpected meeting is largely responsible in compelling the Burmese Cockney to explain who Chandra Nil really is. Jack is therefore left free to wed his pretty singing girl without causing any shock to his aristocratic relatives.
So much for the story. There is not much of it, but there never is in the modern musical play. Splendid dresses, beautiful music, magnificent mounting and plenty of fun, are the main essentials in this class of entertainment, and all these, and more, will be found in "The Blue Moon." Mr. Robert Courtneidge, who is one of our cleverest and most artistic stage producers, does not do things by halves. Deafening applause is proof that the big audiences at the Lyric already know this, and are accordingly grateful.
"The mue Moon" was originally brought out on Feb. 29, 1904, at Northampton. The late Mr. Harold Ellis provided the book which has since been revised by Mr. A. M. Thompson. Messrs. Percy Greenbank and Paul Rubens have supplied the lyrics, and Messrs. Howard Talbot and Paul Rubens the bright and tuneful music.
Roars of laughter greet both Mr. Willie Edouin, whose Moolraj will become as famous as his "Hilarius" or his "Tweedlepunch," and Mr. Walter Passmore, who as an amorous bandmaster of a native band has a character after his own heart, when to these two I add such charming people as Miss Carrie Moore, Miss Billie Burke, Mr. Courtice Pounds, Mr. Fred Allandale and Mr. Harold Thorley, who dance and sing and recite and make love ad libitum; and Mr. Clarence Blakiston, who looks so handsome as the prince, and Miss Florence Smithson, who sings so sweetly and simply as Chandra Nil, I tell myself with no little certainty that "The Blue Moon" is destined to shine on at the Lyric for months to come.
PEOPLE IN THE PLAY
Born at Geelong, Victoria, N.S.W. MISS CARRIE MOORE has only been in England for about two years when she came from Australia to London under engagement to Mr. George Edwardes to take up Miss Letty Lind's part in The Girl from Kay's. Her work on the stage "down under" was under the banner of Mr. J. C. Williamson with whose companies she remained ever since she was twelve years old. One never-to-be-forgotten night in Adelaide, Miss Moore was engaged in making up for the part of "Maid Marian" in Robin Hood at the Theatre Royal, when without warning there came a loud but distant rumbling noise, her dressing room rocked and seemed to be floating, and in less time than it takes to write, Adelaide experienced a violent earthquake shock. Audience and artistes (many of these only partly dressed) rushed en masse into the street. Their confidence, however, was soon restored, and the majority crept back into the theatre, but the performance was very late in starting, and the audience not nearly so large as it would have been. Last Xmas Miss Moore played Aladdin at the Shakespeare Theatre, Liverpool, the pantomime which ran three weeks longer than any other pantomime in England.
Everybody remembers what a hit MISS BILLIE BURKE made with that dainty song "My Little Canoe," in The School Girl. That was her first appearance on the stage. It is not much over two years ago, but then Miss Burke is only nineteen now. She is American: as she herself puts it, "I was born in Washington, U.S.A., and bred in England." Miss Burke has played the parts of Lizette and Renee both in The Duchess of Dantzic, for Mr. Geo. Edwardes, in fact he and Mr. Courtneidge are the only two managers she has so far played for. Miss Burke receives, of course, the adulation which the American girl is taught to expect from our young English peers and lords, and the American press is anxiously wondering what her choice will be, as she is reported each month or so to be engaged to a different title. She is fond of motoring and fond of England, and hopes to remain here with her parents for a long time to come.
When only a dot of three MISS FLORENCE SMITHSON sang tiny ballads at the old wooden theatre at Longton, and has been on and off the stage practically ever since. She has played many parts in her father's own companies in the provinces, and has done some "coon" singing and dancing at the music halls. She has appeared with much success in Grand Opera playing such parts as Carmen, Daughter of the Regiment, Marguerite in Faust, etc; and finally joined Messrs. Hart & Courtneidge to create the part of Chandra Nil in The Blue Moon, which performance, after a tour as Nanoya in Mr. Geo. Edwardes No. 1 Cingalee company, she resumed in London on the production of the play at the Lyric.
The first real big success made by MISS ELEANOUR SOURAY was when she played Hilda Gunning in Letty on tour last autumn. Previously she had played in The Girl from Kay's and The Admirable Crichton, and now, of course, she is the Lady Brabasham in The Blue Moon.
Here is a little experience told to me by MR. WALTER PASSMORE, whose stage past is too well known to recapitulate. "One hot summer, many years ago, when I was thirsting for work, and getting nothing, I accepted a pianist's engagement to open at a small seaside town where they bar the cultivation of shell fish. The play was Hamlet. The company looked thin on my turning up to rehearsal, but that was nothing compared to the audience on the opening night. But I am digesting (as the big Authors do not say). At rehearsal the manager informed me that they possessed no score of the music for Hamlet, and handing me a set of 'cues' told me to play what I liked. Now to extemporise the whole of the music to Hamlet is rather a tall order, but the Passmores were always brave where there was no danger, and I determined to tackle it. We opened the doors at 7-30 to a rush of air. At 7-50 you could not see the audience for seats. I got more laughs than Hamlet, although I never missed a cue, and always knew when to leave off playing by the murderous looks of the player who had to speak on the finish of the music. The story is too long to tell in its entirety, but you should know that the theatre was a Ginger Beer Factory, the stage was built of ginger beer boxes with thin planks across, so that the lamp footlights danced whenever anyone crossed the stage. Hamlet had a brown paper skull, and when he drank from the poisoned tin cup, and threw it off left, it clattered plump! plump! plump! down two hundred stone steps, during his death scene. There was no ghost in Hamlet on Saturday, at least he never walked near me. I came home to London with an I.O.U. for my salary and in case this should meet that particular manager's eye I am open to a very low offer."
To go on the stage Mr. CLAERENCE BLAKISTON gave up a life on the ocean wave. His first engagement was with a modern, but somewhat shady, repertoire Company whose manager cast him for juvenile lead, only because he possessed a presentable wardrobe. The thirsty members of the company were most eager to show him how his parts really should be played, but stipulated that the coaching was done in the nearest bar-parlour. Soon after joining, his manager called him aside and said, "My boy, you're too good for juveniles. When I see real talent I always help it on. I'll sacrifice myself by exchanging parts with you - I'll lend you my clothes (take care of them as it has taken me years to collect them), and you shall lend me yours." "Whereupon this gentleman" says Mr. Blakiston, "possessed himself of all my available suits and linen, and two weeks later gave me my congé, and 12/- for two weeks' work, explaining with tears in his eyes that business was so bad owing to my inability to play such important parts. I never saw my clothes again. The manager's clothes (mostly rags) I sold for a few shillings, and got insulted over the transaction." After going through many vicissitudes Mr. Blakiston obtained an introduction to Mr. Edward Compton who engaged him as prompter, and thenceforth he worked his way up to the position of leading man, which position he retained for five years before trying his fate in town.
London has not seen a lot of MR. HAROLD THORLEY, for the reason that he has travelled a great deal. He was on his first tour in South Africa in 1890 during the Boer War and apropos I asked him to relate a little incident. He said, "One hot September afternoon our train, en route for Kimberley, had to wait on a siding for an hour or so to allow Colonel Crabbe's column to pass us. They were in hot pursuit of a rebel Commandant who had that morning crossed the railway line. I shall never forget that fine body of men, as, watering their horses and entraining them again, they sang and whistled like schoolboys on a holiday, with no thought as to the chance of being shot in the work ahead of them. After the seven train-loads of men, horses and guns had departed, we were informed that we were to travel through the night. No passenger train had done this since the beginning of the war, but although we agreed that we might get blown up or fired upon, we had to go through with it. Just as the guard shouted 'right away' an official ran up and said, 'You will be quite safe; you are bullet proof! I have labelled the carriages 'Actors', and when the Boers read that they will keep as far away as possible.'"
For the last seven years MR. FRED ALLANDALE, who is an Old Christ's Hospital boy, has trod the boards, and has played leading parts in, amongst other plays, The Geisha, Shop Girl, Gaiety Girl, Runaway Girl, Toreador and San Toy. At Christmas Mr. Allandale goes to Glasgow to take part in Mr. Courtneidge's pantomime Aladdin. He is an enthusiastic banjo player, a golf player and a swimmer.
At very short notice MISS RUTH SAVILE made her first stage appearance in Letty Lind's part in The Girl From Kay's, a little over two years ago. She has since played Daisy in Sergeant Brue, and Cherry Smart in Off the Rank. She is very fond of the stage, but nervous before an audience, and in this respect is grateful for the kindness and encouragement she has received from those with whom she has played. Miss Savile thinks stage players have the best hearts in the world.
FROCKS AND FRILLS
Long may "The Blue Moon" continue to shine at the Lyric, for the frocks and frills, produced by the famous firm of Swan & Edgar, Piccadilly, which deck the dainty ladies taking part in it are of that nature which make one long to inspect them again and again.
Miss Billie Burke wears some exceedingly pretty dresses. Her first is of white mousseline de soie, the skirt edged with a number of wee frills above which the mousseline falls in scollops with embroidery at the edge, and a large medallion of roses arranged in each scollop; the bodice displays a charming little pointed cape arrangement which falls over under-sleeves of a succession of tiny frills similar to the bottom of the skirt, and these frills also form the entire bodice. The little cape is decorated with rose embroidery similar to that on the skirt, and she crowns it with a very fascinating hat of white straw with a wreath of pink roses and foliage arranged carelessly upon the brim, pink silk strings completing it.
Her second frock is an exquisite creation of fluffy pinspotted net displaying innumerable frills and rows of gauging upon both bodice and skirt. The sleeves are puffed to just above the elbow, where they are held by a band of soft white ribbon and finished with lace frills. A berthe-like arrangement of triple frills held by puffings of soft ribbon edges the decolletage, and the front of the bodice displays a shaped panel of rich lace edged with a tiny ruching. The centre of the skirt is encircled with huge lace medallions, below which fall beautiful lace festoons, the lower being considerably wider than the upper one.
Miss Carrie Moore, as the fascinating maid, wears a pretty frock of black and white striped material in the first act with a broad turn-over collar and cuffs of embroidery, and a pleated white chiffon apron held by red bows. Her second frock is decidedly smart for a maid, even a maid in musical comedy. Of pale pink crepe de chine it is built, the skirt quite plain and finished at the hem with three tiny frills, while the bodice and sleeves consist entirely of tucks, except in front where the bodice is gathered into a deep point and edged across the decolletage with a band of pink silk. On either side of this pointed vest comes a band of embroidery to support her muslin embroidered apron; epaulettes and cuffs of white embroidered lawn and a waist belt of pink silk complete the gown.
As a key-note to coming fashions we may take Miss Souray's second gown of purple chiffon velvet. It is cut severely in Princess fashion, the bodice falling back in a remarkably attractive fashion and displaying a picturesque arrangement of real lace draped on the decolletage; the sleeves are quite short and are drawn into two puffs. An exquisite effect is given at the hem of the skirt by having the lower portion corded on to a rope, and then turned under and fixed upon the silk foundation. This is the secret of the admirable way in which this gown falls at the feet.
Equally fascinating is Miss Souray's first frock, which is made of pale blue crepe de chine. The skirt bears several deep tucks at the hem, and the bodice, which is of the cross-over variety, displays a front of chiffon quite plain in the centre with rows of paste buttons down the middle, and a border of broderie Anglaise on either side and several frills of Valenciennes lace. Over this is worn a lace coat of broderie Anglaise bearing mauve velvet medallions, a mauve waistbelt giving the gown a becoming finish.
If there is one thing more than another for which we ought to thank the designers, Messrs. Swan and Edgar, it is for the charming models for girls of fifteen or thereabouts, an age which many people find extremely difficult to gown suitably. Quite one of the prettiest is a frock of palest pastel blue silk voile, the hem of the skirt bearing three deep tucks, and the crossover bodice displaying pretty triple revers of the same, and two deep tucks to form the upper portion of the elbow sleeves. Broderie Anglaise forms the pointed vest and the puffed under-sleeves, and the voile is edged around the vest with a narrow band of embroidery.
Another dress is of beige-coloured silk voile trimmed on the skirt with alternate tucks and bands of white lace arranged horizontally; the elbow sleeves are treated in a similar fashion and finished with a double frill, while the white lace vest is completed by folds and frills of voile divided by bands of lace insertion, the pointed waistband being entirely of lace.
A very pleasing frock is one made of white ninon de soie, and decked from knee to hem with a graduated mass of tiny frills. The bodice and sleeves are entirely composed of rows of little frills, a circular yoke of white lace and a pointed waist-belt completing the gown. Yet another pretty frock is composed of a mixture of beige coloured and white lace, the skirt displaying a pointed tunic and the bodice a circular yoke of lace, completed by a wide band of lace arranged early Victorian fashion, and finished with a row of tiny rosettes and frills of chiffon; this is drawn into a deep point and caught into a folded silk waist-belt, the sleeves being entirely composed of frills of chiffon.
A very pretty child's frock appears in the first act, made entirely of white muslin with perpendicular stripes of broderie Anglaise coming from the shoulder to the hem of the skirt, a wide, square collar of broderie Anglaise fastens in the front and a soft silk sash is gathered round the hips and tied in a big bow at the back.
Quite the prettiest evening frock worn by these maidens is one of printed mauve chiffon over mauve silk, graduated bands of mauve velvet decorating the hem of the skirt, and the bodice, which is of the baby order, displays a wide berthe of chiffon bearing three rows of velvet, and finished by an up-standing frill of soft white lace. The sleeves are in small balloon shape, and finished well above the elbow with a frill of chiffon and a second frill of lace. The waist-belt is of mirror velvet, and a bunch of violets is tucked into it.
Quite lovely is a second frock of deep cream ninon de soie trimmed with bands of cream lace. A particularly effective design this lace possesses, each side of it being fan-shaped, and behind each fan a padding of tangerine velvet is arranged with the end drawn lightly through the lace. A fichu-like drapery of lace adorns the bodice, which is finished by a band of the lace treated in the same way as the lace upon the skirt. The sleeves are fashioned into a large puff at the shoulder caught into a band of lace and completed by triple frills of chiffon, while from the top of the decolletage to the hem of the skirt in front comes a succession of tiny tangerine velvet bows.
White glace silk bearing a pink floral design on its surface forms the third model. The skirt and bodice are entirely veiled with white chiffon, and the former displays three bands of satin ribbon; the bodice is rather elaborate, with rows of lace ruching and gathered silk, and is arranged cross-over fashion above a tiny gathered vest of white chiffon, the balloon-like sleeves being finished with frills of chiffon.
Among the chorus ladies the first act gives them an opportunity of displaying pretty morning frocks, while evening toilettes are the order of the day - or rather the night - in the second act. Among the former is a charming brown frock of silk voile, pleated in very fully at the waist and bearing rows of graduated tucks from knee to hem. The bodice is composed entirely of tucks, as are the upper portions of the sleeves, a white lace vest, with revers and under-sleeves of the same relieved by touches of bright lettuce green, and a folded waist belt of lettuce green, completing the gown.
Quite beautiful is another frock of white mousseline de soie decorated with little frills and a bold design of broderie Anglaise; broderie Anglaise forms the deep pointed yoke, the lower portion of the bodice being a succession of tiny white frills. Over this is worn a graceful coat of pale pink taffetas with long tails and elbow sleeves, and finished with a little fringed sash at the left side. Equally pretty is a costume of grey voile ninon relieved with bands of floral silk and lace; the yoke is entirely composed of lace with insertions of floral silk, and rows of tucks go to the completion of the skirt.
Blue and white striped taffeta goes to the construction of another frock, the skirt displaying a front panel embroidered on either side with forget-me-nots and edged with a frill of white chiffon in such a fashion as to give the idea of an under-skirt beneath. The vest and under-sleeves are of pleated white chiffon, and the little coat is arranged bolero fashion, with revers, waistcoat and cuffs of forget-me-not embroidery. Quite beautiful too is a dress of palest mauve silk voile with revers, cuffs, and waistbelt of shot pink glace. The bodice is made coat-fashion of pink and mauve floral silk, and a band of the same decorates the skirt between two sets of deep tucks.
A white glace silk, displaying sprays of pink roses upon its surface, goes to the construction of a simple but effective little frock which bears three deep tucks at the hem of the skirt, and a crossover bodice edged with pink silk and arranged into a deep corselet belt of taffetas. Very smart is a gown of biscuit-coloured silk voile, the skirt arranged in pleats upon the hips, and cut in scollops around the hem to display an under-skirt of striped blue and biscuit-coloured silk. This same silk forms the bodice, which is decorated with strappings of the voile, and a vest and trimmings of rich white lace. A number of buttons are effectively introduced upon the bodice and continue from the top of the corselet skirt right to the hem.
Of the evening dresses three stand out as pre-eminently successful. One is of vivid scarlet chiffon mounted over an underskirt of red and white shot silk. Festoons of accordion pleated frills edged with a narrow red ribbon are arranged in three tiers upon the skirt where they are headed by rosettes of the same, similar frills combined with cream lace decorate the bodice, and a scarlet silk waist-belt gives the final touch of daintiness.
For seekers after novelty a gown of rich cream lace mounted over deep apricot coloured silk will be much appreciated. It is arranged Princess fashion, and the bodice is ornamented with four rows of brown ribbon velvet which cross over in front and are held by two rosettes of the same. A little under-vest of gathered chiffon is displayed upon the bodice, which is completed by a deep frill of lace. Touches of brown velvet effectively adorn the lace frills upon the hem of the skirt, and the whole gown distinctly makes for elegance.
Lilac chiffon mounted on mauve silk forms the third model. The skirt bears bands of satin ribbon, tucks, and circular medallions of silk and gold embroidery, which encircle the skirt alternately from waist to hem, while the cross-over bodice displays a deep shaped berthe of lace embroidered in silk and gold, the vest portion being similarly treated.
Alas! that space prevents further beauties being described. I can only advise you to sit in the light of "The Blue Moon" and study the decorative details of the frocks for yourself and join with me in the cry of "Bravo Swan and Edgar!!"
EDITH WALDEMAR LEVERTON.
SCENES FROM THE PLAY