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FOOTLIGHT FLASHES., Issue 10476, 20 November 1897, Supplement
Our London correspondent, writing on October 2, says:— A musical legendary costume play of the sixteenth century, from the German of Ernest Rosiner, with music bv Humperdinck, is in rehearsal at the Court Theatre, with a view to production on October 9. It is a sort of fairy tale, entitled ' The Children of the King.' It seems that Mr " Dot" Boucicault was so impressed with it when he saw it in Munich that he persuaded his partner in the present lease of the Court Theatre (Mr Arthur Chudleigh) to agree to it as the first venture of their season at that house. I mentioned before that Miss Hilda Spong had been engaged, and in «The Children of the King' the other principal performers will be Miss. Cisßie Loftus, Miss Isabel Bateman, Messrs Fred Thome, Herbert Ross, Martin Harvey, and Dion Boucicault. Messrs Chudleigh and Boucicault hold a strong hand, for they ako have secured two new comedies—oue by Pinero and the other by Sydney Grundy. Of ' The White Heather,' produced at Drury Line Theatre for the first time last week, one might say that it is a case of Sir Augustus Harris out-Harrised. Sir Augustus had the reputation of going one better year after year in the autumn Drury Lane drama, and the traditions of the house in this the first time it has been opened since the great entrepreneur'a death have been fully maintained. A Drury Lane drama is a sight that can be seen nowhere else in the world than in London. It depends not so much on itß plot for interest as on the representation of well-known and characteristic scenes in all their details. -With ' The-White Heather' the aim is an ambitious one. The opening scene is a good representation of a Scotch moor, and among the thirteen which follow it are an excellent reproduction of the London Stock Exchange ; a brilliant ssene in Battersea Park, with the cyclists all a-wheel; Boulter Lock on the Thames, with its Sunday crowd ; and, most important of all, the famous ball given by the Duchess of Devonshire just after the Jubilee. This last is a post realistic picture, and to heighten the interest a large number, of the costumes worn at the real ball have been secured, and others most carefully copied. It will be readily seen that Messrs Cecil Raleigh and Henry Hamilton have had no easy task in inventing a plot to include naturally these scenes, lor it is on this principle that a Drury Lane drama is manufactured. They have, however, worked up a really good . plot, and with the strong cast of popular players that interpret it I think tb.at * The White Heather' would stand a good chance of success without its great feature—which is, of course, the mounting. In the first act the lines of the story are clearly laid down, and thence pursued with admirable directness tb the end. A plain tale is half the battle with a melodrama. Lord Angus Cameron, an aristocratic stockbroker, has, on board his yacht, gone through,the Scotch form of marriage with a pretty dependent of his family. It is duly witnessed and entered in ..the log book of the yacht, but the witnesses scatter, and the yacht, with its log book, is wrecked, so that when monetary need suggests Lord Angus's marriage with the wealthy Lady Hermione De Vaux, he is free to repudiate his earlier union, which he does, triumphing over poor Marion Hume in one act alter another. On the eve of a final appeal Lord Angus, in diver's equipment, descends to the White Heather to obtain and to destroy her incriminating log book. He is followed by another diver. They struggle, Lord Angus perishes, and the log book is secured for Marion's vindication and the establishment of her child as heir to a dukedom. In this struggle of the divers a most realistic effect is given the scene by fish apparently swimming round in the water. This effect, startling in its realism, is produced by magnifying the contents of a glass aquarium placed behind the black cloth shadowed on to the scene. [Mr Bland Holt has already secured the Australasian rights of this drama.] A comedy that will undoubtedly find its way to the colonies before long was produced for the first time in London at the Strand Theatre last week. 'The Purser,' as this comedy in three acts has been felicitiously named, had met with a very favorable reception down by the sad sea waves, so a London theatre'was engaged, and the voyage of the P. and 0. liner Kangaroo to Australia is to be witnessed nightly. It affords a cheap way of seeing a little of the style of life on a big Bteamer. The stage picture is sufficiently realistic to make one believe that a small section of a P. and 0. liner at Bea is on view. The main passengers flirt, enjoy themselves, and merrily crack jokes which, I fear, are better than one usually meets with at sea. The amusing situations are the result of the purser marrying a charming girl just before embarking, and, despite all P. and 0. regulations, bringing her on board the steamer. She has, of course, to pass under her single name, and not only do a number of passengers flirt with her, but the merry old sea dog who is captain of the vessel makes the most ardent love to his purser's wife. The complications can easily be imagined, and the most is made of the opportunities till the Kangaroo runs into port, and an explanation all round is feasible.
The long-pending negotiations between Williamson and Muagrove and Wilson Barrett were fixed up last Siturday, when the latter arranged with the Australian impresarios to take himself, Miss Maui Jeffries, arid a company, thircy-two strong, to play a sixteen weeks' tour in Australia, opening in ' Claudian,' and following with • The Sign of the Cross,' *Tbe Manxman,' 'Ben-My-Chree,' 'The Silver King/and 'Hamlet.' Also, Williamson and Musgrove have just engaged" Madame Albani to Bing'at sixteen concerts in Australia. Likewise, they are busily preparing for their campaign at the Shaftesbury, starling at the end of October with the new comic opera adapted from ' La Petite Mariee,' and entitled ' The Scarlet Feather.' This will be followed by a revival of • La Fille da Tambour Major,'
and anon anew French-opera which Musgrove bought last week;: It is .Williamson ""*- Musgrove's intention to make the Shaftesbury a house for comio opera only. Inia firm's ingenuous belief ,that. their Australian successes will likewise prove big coups in London is, I: f Bar, destined to cost them a pretty penny before they've done. Already tho dead failure of 'Francillon' must have been expensive, and I have doubts whether a comic opera like 'La Petite Manee, even with Nelly Stewart in the luckless house the Shaftesbury. : - : The fascination which theatrical managemenfc m London has for all sorts and conditipn9. pf f< p r oa.»... hj explicable enough -in most cases, but I confess I cannot imagine why Williamson and Musgrove,* with a gold mine of a business in Australia, should want to risk burning their fingers here. The odds against their venture at the Shaftesbury being successful are considerable for a number of reasons, and mounting comic operas in these days means spending pots of money. - One can, I. think, safely prophesy that when Williamson and Mnsgrovo revert to their own groove it will be with lighter pockets tihan hearts. Face 3 familiar in Australian theatrical circles were naturally en evidence at the Duke of York's Theatre lasfSaturday; when Williamson and Musgrove opened- their metropolitan campaign with the BellewPotter version of « Francillon.' I told you beforehand I had no confidence in this venture, and the result has more than justified ray pissimistic predictions. Despite Mrs Potter's £1,200 worth of Paris frocks and an excellent cast, the London papers roundly damned 'Francillon.' Even with Sarah Bernhardt playing the heroine the piece made small impression. And Mrs Potter is not Sarah. She has talent unquestionably buried somewhere beneath tons of amazing mannerisms and affectations, but we don't of ten see it. Bellew I liked. In the stalls were the Spong family, George Leitch, "Charley" Warner, Emily Soldene, Hebe \anzetti, and others, and Nelly Stewart smiled from the managers' box. '• - - . Hilda Spong will not, Bnonld she eleot to play in it, monopolise the feminine interest of the new fairy play « The Children of the King at the Court Theatre, as Cibsy Loftus and Isabel Bateman have also been engaged. " Little Mrs Justin, jun.," as the former is called amongst the "pros.," having an unequalled talent for mimicry, and being able at any time to earn 100 guineas a week, thereby naturally despises her gift and aspires to the legitimate. She tried it in America and failed. Now "Dot" Boucicault offers her another chance, but not, I should suppose, at a phenomenal salary. "Dot" will be his own leading man and stage manager to boot.
FOOTLIGHT FLASHES., Issue 10476, 20 November 1897, Supplement
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