A Period Theatre Review presented by www.stagebeauty.net
STORY OF THE PLAY>
The title of a Gaiety play does not count for much, nor does it matter if one piece is, in form and substance, very much like another, so long as we always get the bustling fun and jollity, the melodious music, and the pretty faces which characterise all Mr. George Edwardes's productions at the Gaiety. "The Spring Chicken," the quality of which it would he quite superfluous to talk about at this late date, is surely the giddiest of birds, in-as-much as thousands of men and women who have seen its merry antics could testify that it has not had a dull evening (unless we count Sundays) since its arrival at the Gaiety in the Spring of last year.
There is not much, if any, plot to worry about. We have only to remember that "Spring, Spring, beautiful Spring" is the season for lovers, to prepare us for the change that takes place in the office of M. Babori, a successful young Paris advocate. For here it is that the story opens. It has been a bitterly cold grey morning, but, hey, presto! the sun has broken through the clouds. and the swallows are peeping in at the quickly opened windows. Thick and sombre winter hangings are torn down to be replaced by fresh green curtains. In the twinkling of an eye the office becomes gay with flowers, brightly dressed girls invade its sanctity, reason and logic are filing to the winds, and merriment and love-making are the order of the day.
"In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love," and this being thus everybody falls desperately in love with everybody else, spending little or no time in choosing partners. Babori, of course, is as mad as any of them, and not unnaturally, his spring-chicken-like pranks greatly distress his charming wife, whose mother, Mrs. Girdle (accompanied by Mr. Girdle and two smaller Girdles), has this day arrived in Paris to advise her daughter on that very subject.
"The moment the first swallow makes its appearance," explains the tearful wife, "my husband - "
"I know all about it, the crisis commences," says Mamma Girdle, interrupting her. "Your father was exactly the same only worse. His calendar was blue all the year round."
As a check to her son-in-law's frivolity Mrs. Girdle recommends a sleeping draught, which for years she has been administering to her own husband twice a week, albeit Old Girdle has found out the trick long ago and poured the stuff anywhere but down his throat. In the meantime, and the spring-time, Babori has shaved off his beard and at once makes love to a young baroness (his adversary in a forthcoming law suit), and arranges an evening meeting with her at the Crimson Butterfly restaurant, at Malmaison.
Old Girdle, equally fickle, amuses himself with their peasant servant Rosalie, whom he also invites to Malmaison. In fact everybody manages to find their way to the same place, for there we next meet all the characters, and there do they one and all flirt, and dance, and sing to their hearts content. Of course all sorts of little misunderstandings crop up, and there are the usual encounters and narrow escapes, but finally everybody makes it up, and everything ends well for the time being at an artist's studio in the woods close at hand.
"The Spring Chicken," produced on May 30th, 1905, was adapted from the French by Mr. George Grossmith, Junr. The music is by Mr. Ivan Caryll and Mr. Lionel Monckton (than whom there is none better when it comes to light and graceful compositions), and Mr. Adrian Ross and Mr. Percy Greenbank supplied the lyrics. With regard to the performers, one need not say more than that all the members of the well-known Gaiety Company have been admirably provided for. The scenery and dresses too are quite remarkable for their beauty and taste, and there is no reason why "The Spring Chicken" should not continue to hop about the Gaiety stage for many more months come.
HOW THE SPRING CHICKEN IS DRESSED
In order to fully grasp all the infinitesimal details of those most smart frocks worn in "The Spring Chicken," it would be absolutely necessary for a truly conscientious chronicler of modes to take up her residence at the Gaiety for at least a week. Whenever the Chorus appears one gets a large animated fashion-plate of the modes of to-morrow, and before one has noted the charms of a couple of gowns, they have disappeared, and the chronicler is left lamenting.
That the garment of the future is to be "Empire" with modifications is an accepted theory, but go to the Gaiety and see the theory put into practice, and you will at once become an ardent admirer of that particular style. To be absolutely correct it is best to announce that "a marriage has been arranged" between the Empire and Princess gowns, the result being admirably adapted to the English taste. Typical of "what is to be" are these following frocks.
First I would have you note the details of a certain blue-grey cashmere Princess robe, decked down the whole length of the skirt, with velvet bows in a slightly deeper shade, stripes of velvet appearing on either side, this is surmounted by the daintiest little velvet coat imaginable, trimmed with ruches of silk to match, and a white lace vest. The hat which accompanies it is a white toque with a flowing white paradise plume at one side. A second admirable gown is of leaf green cloth, the skirt made corselet fashion at the waist, and forming two tiers, a blouse of white lace is worn with it, and over this comes a short Empire coat of ermine, green velvet, and lace.
Quite lovely is a frock of grey satin and brocade. The skirt is formed of the first material, a tight-fitting yellow velvet waistcoat fastening cross-wise over a vest of cream lace. Above this comes a tail coat of grey brocade, relieved by yellow velvet revers and cuffs. Later the frocks are typical of the change from winter to spring, and we see lovely creations in pale greens and daffodil yellows, all showing the combined charms of the Empire coat above a Princess gown. Yellow, by the way, is to be the colour most in favour in the immediate future.
Dainty Miss Kate Cutler has selected a series of white frocks to grace her various appearances. First she wears a Princess dress of white cloth with a foldover bodice and elbow sleeves, this is crowned by a boat-shaped white beaver hat with an enormous blackbird at one side, a large white fox stole and muff completing the costume. Of white mousseline de soie is Miss Cutler's second dress, the skirt decked with tucks and lace applications. Her hat is white in French sailor shape, the brim encircled with a wreath of large pink roses, a pendant purple veil hanging at the back. "The very first time she does this sort of thing" the dainty lady appears at the Crimson Butterfly Restaurant in a beautiful white mousseline de soie frock, profusely trimmed with Irish lace. The sleeves are of puffed white chiffon, and into the bodice a couple of pink roses are coquettishly placed, a long sash with fringed ends encircling the waist. Quite chic too is her small black velvet Empire hat with its tuft of white ostrich plumes.
Miss Connie Ediss affects very tightly fitting costumes in velvet. The first is pale grey with lace vest, and a short coat of velvet with embroidered cuffs to the short sleeves, tails of embroidery being attached to the waistband at the back. Of cornflower blue is her Princess dress in the Second Act, the bodice is decolletee, and finished by a rather wide gathered tucker of cream net, while down the front of the frock from bust to hem comes a handsome spray of chiffon flowers in the same shade as the velvet. A picture hat of pink tulle, with folds and pendant drapery of the same crowns this gown, while specially charming is Miss Ediss' white wrap, a kind of white pelerine composed of silk, swansdown and lace.
Miss Gertie Millar's costumes are most picturesque, and specially suitable to copy for fancy dress balls. First of all she appears in a Dutch gown of art green cashmere (or was it fine cloth?), the skirt is encircled by a wide band of green velvet and narrow bands of black velvet. Above her white chemisette comes a tight-fitting bodice of green velvet, with a yellow vest, the tight-fitting sleeves being held by a band of green velvet. A white cambric sailor collar completes the chemisette, and it is adorned by bands of yellow embroidery and two yellow ribbon bows. On either side of the skirt two long green velvet stoles hang, embroidered boldly in yellow silk, a quaint apron of blue and white check completing the costume. Quite charming is her neat frock of pale blue silk, with a wide border on the skirt of hand-painted pink roses, her apron of finest white mousseline de soie is also bordered with pink roses, and her quaint white cap displays very long blue ribbon streamers. Dainty to a degree is Miss Millar's last dress of soft white silk, the skirt displaying rows of graduated tucks, and her petticoats an edging of silver tissue. The bodice has revers of ivory pailleme lace, three little bows decorating the pointed vest which appears beneath a folded satin belt held by a long diamond clasp, an apron of lace entirely paillettee with ivory sequins completes this delicious toilet.
Miss Olive Morrell's first gown is of pale grey silk voile, very simply made; the skirt displays deep tucks at the hem, and the full bodice is merely gathered around a pointed yoke of white lace, and completed by a grey satin waistband.
This tale of toilets cannot be completed without a description of the frocks worn by two of M. Babori's lady clients. One is a coat and skirt of electric blue cloth with a white lace vest. The skirt displays many smartly stitched pleats, and the coat is gathered into shaped bands of cloth in a particularly charming fashion. With it is worn a three-cornered blue hat, trimmed with narrow bands of ermine, and a flowing white paradise. Even more distinguished is the second, a costume of grey cloth, severely Princess in style, festoons of silk cords to match extending from the throat to the hem of the dress in front. This is completed by a stole and muff of white fox, and a smartly twisted hat of purple felt with a cluster of violets at one side.
SCENES FROM THE PLAY