[By Call Boy.]
A Melbourne letter received by the last mail gives details of two important attractions shortly to bo sent to this colony by “The Firm.” The Paulton-StanleyComedy Company (with Pete Hughes in command) will commence their tour at Auckland on October 18. Mr Paulton is a comedian with a_ great reputation, and is best known to New Zealanders as the author n£ the operas ‘ Erminie ’ and ‘ Pepita’ and the comedy of ‘Niobe,’ a play which the Broughs have mad a great hit in. Miss Alma Stanley is a tall and extremely handsome and popular London actress, who made her first successes in burlesque. They \Vill be .'supported by a company including several old favorites in this colony, and the repertoire will include ‘ A Night Out,’ the screaming farce ‘ln a Locket, 5 ‘My Friend From India, 5 and, of course, ‘ Niobe. 5 Wilson Barrett's highly religious drama ‘ The Sign of the Cross 5 is the other attraction, and its initial production in this colony will be at Dunedin at Christmas. The piece is described as the greatest “ boom 55 seen in Australia for several years, and was witnessed in Melbourne alone by no fewer than 120,000 people, including the leading members of the clergy, several of whom dilated on the moral beauties of the play from their pulpits. The New Zealand company will include Mr Julius Knight, Miss Elliot Page, Miss Linda Raymond, and and others concerned in its production on the other side. After another tour in India and the East Hudson's Surprise Party are again in Australia, and will shortly tour this colony. The combination is a very strong one, and there is £ot a weak point in the show. With the exception of Tommy Hudson and Miss Habgood all the folk are strangers to these parts. Miss Violet Eliott (singer), the Thornton Sisters (dancers), and Altro (the equilibrist) are prominent members of the combination.
Mrs Williamson has scored a signal triumph in her revival of ‘ Struck Oil ’ and ‘The Chinese Question’ at the Sydney Royal. In the former she plays with as much gusto as ever. Harry Roberts is the John Stofel, but it is no discredit to him to bo voted “ some points below J. C. Williamson," whose name will always be identified with the part. A young sister of Roberts is among the company. One of the ‘•points" of the ‘French Maid,’ which lias caught on properly at Sydney, is the Jubilee topical song which Mr Shand sings. Charles Arnold, of Hans the Boatman fame, is part author of and Joint bidder of the copyright in the song, in which is described how the nations of the earth take off the hat, figuratively, to the the Queen-Empress, It is tuneful, and has a rattling chorus, which the audiences sing with much “ go.” On the eve of the Tarawera sailing on Monday for Sydney I had a wire from genial K. B. Brough conveying his grateful remembrances to old-time friends in Dunedin, wishing our City “ heaps of prosperity,” and convoying the pleasing information that “ onr New Zealand tour has been an unqualified success from Dunedin to Auckland.”
In the initial number of ‘ Cooee,’ a penny weekly just issued at Sydney, appears a striking photo of Mrs Bland Holt, who, in reply to the editress’s query, says that her favorite character is Dorcas Gentle in ‘ The Prodigal Daughter.’ She thinks critics “ good as a tonic and corrective,” and that Australia “ will be a grand country when finished.” The query “What is the most memorable incident of your stage career?” elicited the laconic reply : “ Meeting my manager. Bland Holt.” Asked whore the most sympathetic audiences are to bs found, Mrs Holt, with discretion, replied “in the colonies.” So prime a favorite wherever she goes could hardly say else, for her winsome smile and bonny face make her welcome throughout Australasia. The Casino and Summer Theatre at Ramona Park, one of the suburbs of Paducah (Kentucky), caught fire about midnight, during a performance which was to end with a display of fireworks on the stage. Some of the actors, enveloped in flames, rushed upon the stage, and the - flames spread to the auditorium. A panic ensued, and a wild rush was made for the exits. Women and children were trampled under foot, and six persons were killed and 150 injured.
Miss Emily Hughes has been engaged by “The Firm,” and will sustain Miss Ferrar's part of Mrs Thornton in ‘The Two Little Vagabonds’ when that play is produced iu Adelaide and Sydney by the new company Williamson and Musgrove have formed. Miss Harris Ireland has joined the Thornten company, and made her appearance at the Bijou recently in ‘The Bookmaker,’ giving a capital performance as Lady Jessie. Harry Jewett discourages his brother “pros.” from visiting the United States, where,_ he says, business has been slack for some time. Harry has been fortunate himself, but he knows of plenty of men from the colonies who havo been the reverse of lucky. 1 The French Maid,’ which is the latest musical comedy imported by “The Firm,” is beating the records of ‘ The Gay Parisienne ’ in Sydney. Mr Howard Vernon is in the cast, having evidently had enough of operatic management on his own account. Some curiosity was evinced in Australia to see Mr Harry Paulton in what is partly his own comedy, ‘Niobe,’ made familiar to us by the Broughs. He produced it in Melbourne recently, personally playing the part of Peter Amos Dunn, which he made genuinely funny ; hut Miss Alma Stanley’s conception of Niobe was questioned. “ There was plenty of color in certain of her scenes,” says the ‘ Argus ’ critic, “ but some of the charm which lies in the artless wonderment of Niobe was lost.”
The Hastings Amateur Opera Company have settled up with Mr Williamson over arrears of royalties. Between the races on Derby Day at Epsom, Stanley, the boy sketcher, plied his craft on the green in front of the grand stand. Stanley is thirteen years old, and besides sketching a portrait on the spot he can portray from memory some 250 familiar faces. His easel is a man’s back. Yesterday while he was at work a certain peer came and spoke to him ; two ladies followed. They asked him to draw some notable faces, and he drew royalties, actors and statesmen. One of the ladies said: “ Can you draw Ellen Terry ? ” “Would you know her if you saw her?” “ Rather !” “Well, then, is it one of us two?” “ Yes—not you—the other lady is Miss Ellen Terry.” They asked the boy how he learned to draw, and then Miss Terry said: “And I can draw as well as you. Wouldn’t you like to see me ?” Thereupon she took the boy’s charcoal and slab, and with the greatest ease drew a striking portrait of Mr Pinero, giving a forcible expression to that bright eye of his. Then the same fair hand drew a living picture of Sir Henry Irving and initialled each portrait. In his little home by the sea the pictures are to form his first household goods. A tempting offer was made for the pictures, but the boy stuck to his treasures.— ‘ Westminster Gazette.’
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FOOTLIGHT CLASHES., Evening Star, Issue 10435, 2 October 1897, Supplement