A Period Theatre Review presented by www.stagebeauty.net

The Sleeping Beauty
Performed at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
A pantomime by Geo. R. Sims, C.H. Bovill and Arthur Collins.
Music by J.M. Glover.
Opened 26th December, 1912.
Starring: Florence Smithson.

All Editorial and Photos (except where indicated) as published in The Playgoer and Society Illustrated Vol VII, No. 40 (1912).
Dramatis Personae
Played by
Princess Marcella
Florence Smithson
Wilfrid Douthit
Duke Nemo
Charles Rock
Duke of Monte Blanco
George Graves
Will Evans
Alice Chartres
Renee Mayer
Irene May
Barry Lupino


The "Sleeping Beauty" is a real pantomime for children. Tennyson's story was apparently not enough for the authors, so they have woven into the fabric other plots, or sub-plots, which, however, do not detract from the main idea. The children experience no difficulty in following the story as it is presented on the stage at Drury Lane.

Anarchista, the wicked fairy, has become the second wife of a man she hates, the Duke of Monte Blanco. She has turned him into a scarecrow, and kidnapped Auriol, his infant son (by his first wife). This boy she throws to the witches to be killed, and goes off to the castle of Duke Nemo to cast an evil spell over his newlyborn daughter, Prince Marcella, already betrothed to Auriol.


(Lloyds Weekly News [London, UK] - 29th December, 1912)
Gorgeous Pantomimes and Fairy Tales for the Little Ones

Drury Lane, determined to maintain its pantomime pre-eminence, has provided an entertainment which, in point of sumptuousness has not been surpassed. Artists will enthuse over the beauty of its scenery, the fair sex rave over the wondrous costumes designed by the great Comelli, and all London laugh at the humours of Mr.George Graves.

And while the National theatre remains faithful to accepted pantomime heroes, a little originality in the retelling of the old, old stories has proved of infinite advantage. That practised dramatist, Mr. George R. Sims, has onace again the lions share in providing "the book." The result is something really intelligible and interesting.

A notable invention is to make the Black Fairv a certain Queem Anarchista. She exercises her potent powers in the first instance on her husbaud, the Duke of Monte Blanco, by converting him into a scarecrow, and the young Prince Auriole is abandoned in a bed of buttercups. That is how the Prince becomes a gardener, for he is discovered by a shepherd in the best Shaksperian manner.

So it falls out that Auriole - sixteen years later becomes the gardener's assistant, and meets the winsome Princess in a bower of roses. Their dream of love is spoilt by Beauty being put to her long sleep. Then Monte Blanco is restored to his true character, and Mr. George Graves coming to life and bitterly complaining of a golf ball in his ear, and the stiffness incidental to being a scarecrow for so long, is a comic effect that starts the ball of fun rolling right merrily.

Auriole, who saves Beauty with a kiss, is turned into a beast by the furious Black Fairy, and we have Mr. George Graves lamenting in his best comic vein that he is the father of a " hairy thing like that." Of course, as Blanco, Mr. Graves has incidentally to sing the accepted "Drury Lane" tongue-twister." This is "I sent my Sister Cissie to assist her," the effect being the more farcical by reason of the interruptions of a crowd of pretended prompters.

There are many other busy laughter makers, chief among them Mr. Will Evans as a certain Sire de Pompos, Mr. Barry Lupino as a yokel who for a time is mistaken for the real Prince, the Two Poluskis as eccentric detectives, and Mr. Arthur Conquest as the inevitable dog.

The sweet voice of Miss Florence Smithson makes her the most delightful heroine possible. She has many songs with cadenzas and birdlike Patti thrills that charm beyond words. As for the Prince of Mr. Wilfrid Douthitt it is not altogether his fault if we plead guilty to being old fashioned enough to regret the passing of the "principal boy" of Drury Lane. There is nothing fairy-like about the male substitute. Much more true to the picture is little Miss Renee Mayer as a Puck who, despite his mischief, does so much good for the persecuted lovers.

The witches cannot agree, and dawn arrives before Auriol is killed, so they have to disappear, leaving him asleep on a bed of buttercups, where he is found and adopted by a peasant couple. Time passes, and in a beautiful rose garden we find the Princess Mlarcella in love with Auriol, who is now a common gardener, and Auriol in love with her. The evil spell of Anarchista, which has so far been foiled by Puck, now begins to work, and having pricked her finger at the spinning wheel, Princess Marcella falls asleep, and is borne off to her father's castle, where she remains for several years.

The Duke of Monte Blanco, who was turned into a scarecrow, slowly comes to life, having had many amusing experiences during the eighteen years he has been frightening the birds away. Meanwhile, Duke Nemo has been persuaded by his Chancellor, Pompos, that a certain foundling, Finnykin, is the lost son of the Duke of Monte Blanco, the boy who was betrothed to his daughter Marcella.

Next follows the wonderful dream of the Sleeping Beauty, Princess Marcella. All the well-known stories and legends of the children come to her as she dreams on her gorgeous bed. Then Auriol kisses her, Finnykin's kisses having failed to arouse her, and, as Puck decreed, she awakens, amid scenes of great splendour.

Just at that moment Anarchista appears in the background, and, with a word, transforms Auriol into an ugly beast.

The second part of the pantomime opens in the Blue Lagoon, where the Duke of Monte Blanco is found endeavouring to hasten the wedding of his supposed son, Finnykin, for Anarchista has decreed that should his son be unmarried by the end of the month the Duke shall be again transformed into a scarecrow.

The Duke's efforts have been so successful that Finnykin -the supposed Auriol- is about to marry his sweetheart, Zizi, a dairymaid. Before the ceremony actually takes place, however, the deception of Pompos is announced by Anarchista. Search is at once made for the Duke's real son, Auriol, two detectives, Blake and Holmes, being employed for that purpose. Puck has started an Ideal Dairy Farm, which the detectives search for an ugly hairy beast that can talk.

When at last Auriol is found he is ashamed of his appearance, but is persuaded to return to his little sweetheart, Princess Marcella. In spite of his ugliness he finds that the love of the Princess for him is as strong as ever, and she kisses him fervently.

That kiss has the effect of re-transforming Auriol, and the Beast becomes a human being once-more, this time to marry the Princess Marcella and to live happily with her for ever after.

"The Sleeping Beauty" is the most successful pantomime Mr. Arthur Collins has produced for many years. It is full of fun, and there is not a suspicion of vulgarity from beginning to end. It is magnificently mounted, and divided into two parts, with twelve scenes in all. There is plenty of variety, and the various dances and choruses are set to tuneful music.

Mr. George Graves and Mr. Will Evans are responsible for a good deal of the humour, while the delightful singing of Miss Florence Smithson and Wilfrid Douthitt adds greatly to the charm and beauty of the production.

The cast also includes such popular artistes as Mr. Charles Rock, Mr. Barry Lupino, Mr. Austin Melford, and the Poluskis (Will and Sam). Pretty little Renee Mayer is a great favourite as Puck, while Miss Irene May, Miss Alice Chartres, and Miss May Hannam are much appreciated for their artistic work.


Click any image for a larger view
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Florence Smithson as Princess Marcella
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George Graves as the Scarecrow and the Duke
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Florence Smithson as Princess Marcella
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Finnykin is afraid of the Motor Engine
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The Duke Greets the Chancellor
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Miss Alice Chartres as Anarchista
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Miss Renee Mayer as Puck
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Miss Irene May as Zizi
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The Duke of Monte Blanco and his Second Wife
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Mr Wilfred Douthit as Auriol
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The Peasant Couple, Jacques and Jeanne
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Finnykin and Pompos
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The Sleeping Beauty
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Charles Rock as Duke Nemo
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The Poluskis as Detectives
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The Harlequinade
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The Harlequinade

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