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The Girls of Gottenberg
Performed at the Gaiety Theatre, London.
A musical play by George Grossmith jnr. and L.E. Berman.
Music by Ivan Caryll and Lionel Monckton.
Opened 15th May, 1907 - ran for 308 Performances.
Starring: Gertie Millar, May de Sousa, Jean Aylwin, Olive May.

All Editorial and Photos (except where indicated) as published in 'The Play Pictorial' No. 60, Vol. X.
Dramatis Personae
Played by
Miss Gertie Millar
Count Otto
Mr. George Grossmith jnr.
Miss May DeSousa
Max Moddelkopf
Mr. Edmund Payne
Mr. Robert Nainby
Mr. Arthur Hatherton
Miss Kitty Hanson
Miss Violet Halls
Miss Jean Aylwin
Miss Olive May



(Lloyds Weekly News [London, UK] - 19th May, 1907)

Miss Gertie Millar had sufficiently recovered of her sprain to play on Wednesday night, and "The Girls of Gottenberg" was duly produced and greeted as one of the greatest triumphs of the Gaiety for many a day.

There is much freshness and sparkle in the piece. The plot, if none too dramatically worked out, is at least built on a quaint idea. Conceive Mr. Grossmith. jun. as the dashing Prince Otto, who joins his regiment at Rottenberg to discover, to his horror, that the Blue Hussars are condemned to be there for another three years, and that there is only one woman in the place. The Red Dragoons, on the contrary, have been ordered to Gottenberg, where the Rhine maidens are many and comely. So Prince Otto inspires his barber valet, Max, none other than our old friend and laughter maker, Mr. Edmund Payne, to carry out a piece of imposture in the style of Koepenick.

Naturally there is much broad farce as the result of Max posturing as an Imperial envoy. He gets the Blue Hussars to Gottenberg, but rather loses his head in his new role. He defies his superior, orders the Town Clerk and the Burgomaster to prison, and in intervals of comic remorse and terror makes violent love to the Burgomaster's massive daughter.

Amid all the fun there is a dainty vein of sentiment in Prince Otto's cousin and affianced wife, Elsa, preferring to masquerade as a poor girl to test her future husband's sincerity. Thus she figures as serving maid in a beer garden, while the real Mitzi, none other than Miss Gertie Millar, takes her identity and is enrolled in a corps of fascinating girl students who affect military dress and discipline. One very mirthful situation is a duel fought between Mitzi and the Burgomaster's daughter. Max unfortunately runs in at the moment of firing and is hit.

Many cooks have engaged in this elaborate broth, and for once reversed the proverb and not spoilt it. Mr. George Grossmith jun., and Mr. L. E. Herman have found the idea, Mr. Adrian Ross and Captain Basil Hood have turned all kinds of neat lyrics, and last, but by no means least, Mr. Ivan Caryll and Mr. Lionel Monckton have strung together many neat melodies.

Mr. Monckton includes in his share two ditties which should prove more than passing fancies - "Rheingold" and "Two Little Sausages," the latter being given by Miss Gertie Millar and Mr. Payne. These two are very successful, Miss Millar having many arch songs, to which she gives all point in her own quietly effective way. Mr. Payne, swaggering in gorgeous uniforms and making grandiloquent speeches, has his chance at last and makes the fullest use of it.

Mr. Grossmith is apparently at present undecided whether he shall be a "pretty boy" or comedian, and he cannot be both. Mr. Robert Naisby is an eccentric sort of Sergeant; Miss May de Sousa is the sentimental Elsa, with many excellent vocal contributions; and capital support is also given by Miss Jean Aylwin, Mr. T. C. Maxwell, Mr. Robert Hale, Mr. Arthur Hatherton, Miss Kitty Mason, Miss Violet Halls (the Burgomaster's daughter), Mr. George Miller (a funny old German), and Miss Olive May.

For once we have rivalled Paris in smartness and seized upon an idea which is as up to date as the exigencies of the stage will allow. To Mr. George Grossmith, Junr., and Mr. L. E. Berman belongs the credit of having availed themselves of the wonderfully humorous escapade which is known as the Koepenick "incident" and turned it to practical use as the main theme of a musical comedy.

With such a comedian in the Gaiety company as Mr. Edmund Payne, they had the ideal representative, from the comic standpoint, of the German practical joker. To Mr. Payne, accordingly, is entrusted the task of befooling the worthy Burgomaster and effecting the removal of the Blue Hussars from the dull little town of Rottenberg to the more festive centre of Gottenberg.

The Hussars had been anticipating the exchange, and their disappointment may be understood when they discover that a rival regiment, the Red Dragoons, had secured the coveted location. For Gottenberg boasted a ladies' university, and the fair students were not the least attractive features of the town life.

But for the arrival of Prince Otto, who had been appointed to a lieutenancy in the regiment, the Blue Hussars would have languished in their old quarters. The Prince is very much of a feather-bed soldier, and with a great admiration for the ladies. He is in no jubilant mood when he realises the condition of affairs at Rottenberg. Happily, he has a valet, Max Moddelkopf, who has a resourceful mind and very little conscience. Max has had a varied career; he is a deserter from the army, he has traded as a barber in Berlin, and he has no hesitation in donning one of his master's gorgeous uniforms and passing himself off as the Special Envoy of the Emperor.

In this guise he imposes all sorts of conditions on the Burgomaster, makes love to his buxom daughter, puts people under arrest, and, generally speaking, does the most outrageous things in the most plausible manner possible. It is a capital part for Mr. Payne, and he certainly makes the most of it.

Miss Gertie Millar is the feminine foil to Max, and she plays the role of the pretty daughter of a small innkeeper. Mitzi has a great appreciation of her own beauty, and readily falls in with the scheme of Elsa, the daughter of the Margrave of Saxe-neirstein, a student at the girls' college and much in love with Albrecht, a captain in the Red Dragoons. Elsa changes with Mitzi and takes up her duties at the inn, while Mitzi dons the smart uniform of the college girl.

It is not possible to enter into all the complications which are brought about by the escapades of Max, for the librettists have taken full advantage of the licence allowed writers


(Lloyds Weekly News [London, UK] - 19th May, 1907)

An unfortunate accident to Miss Gertie Millar caused the postponement of the production at the Gaiety theatre last night of Mr. George Edwardes' new play, "The Girls of Gottenberg."

The mishap, happily slight, though temporarily painful, occurred at the full-dress rehearsal overnight. Miss Millar, to whom is allotted the principal part of the daughter of a beer-garden keeper, had just concluded a song and was executing one of her dainty dances when she tripped and fell. The audience of friends at the rehearsal looked to see the lady rise and continue, but it soon appeared that she was seriously hurt, and Mr. Monckton and others rushed from the wings to her assistance. It was necessary to carry her from the stage, and the curtain was dropped.

Yet, to the astonishment of all, the scene was resumed in five minutes and Miss Millar came out and took up her part. She acted as daintily as ever, but there was no further attempt at dancing. As the play proceeded it could be seen the neat little ankle was a source of discomfort, if not of pain. She persisted, however, even to the extent of going through the funny duel which is a feature of the piece.

She made light of her hurt to the players round her, and when the piece was at length over, it was thought she would be quite well enough to play the next day, even if a little lamely. But at noon yesterday, finding that Miss Millar was unable to use the injured ankle without pain, her doctor declined to permit her to appear. Mr. Edwardes had an understudy ready, but the importance of Miss Millars part compelled him to defer the production until next Wednesday, when she is advised that rest will have repaired the strain.

The postponement was only announced yesterday afternoon, when already one or two people had put in an appearance to be first in the field for so important a dramatic event as a Gaiety first night.

Well might Mr. George Edwardes think himself for once under an unlucky star. "The Girls of Gottenberg" was to have been produced originally on Thursday. Miss Gertie Millar struggled hard against an attack of tonsilitis - fortunately mild - and Mr. Payne could scarcely sing at rehearsal. Then the Lord Chamberlain interfered with the book, for the piece was founded on an adventure in the style of Koepenick, where a German tailor passed as an officer, and duped the entire town, and certain questions of international good taste arose.

Mr. Edwardes was wise, therefore, and abandoned Thursday, in favour of Saturday for the premier. Now a further postponement is caused by Miss Millar's accident, which is understood to be due to the unfortunate conjunction of new shoes and a freshly-painted cloth.


Click any image for a larger view
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Elsa (May de Sousa)
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Prince Otto and Max
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The special envoy arrives
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The special envoy of the Kaiser
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The pretty students of Gottenberg college
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The arrest of the Colonel of the Blue Hussars
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The arrest of the Burgomaster
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Otto's first meeting with a disguised Elsa
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Mitzi (Miss Gertie Millar)
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The town girls of Gottenberg
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Minna (Jean Aylwin) and Lucille (Olive May)
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Otto is drawn to Elsa
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The girls of Gottenberg
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Mitzi recognises Max
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Otto makes love to his own fiance
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Otto (George Grossmith jnr.)
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Miss Kitty Mason
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A quiet lunch at the Red Hen
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Max interrupts the duel
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After the duel
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Clementine (Miss Violet Halls)
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The Blue Hussars
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The Red Dragoons

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