THE GAIETY COMPANY.
The London Gaiety Company made their first change of programme in Dunedin last night, and had the gratification of appearing before a large and fashionable audience, which crowded the Princess Theatre in every part, when they produced the burlesque of "Miss Esmeralda," which was written by A. C. Torr (the norn de plume adopted by the late Fred Leslie) and Horace Mills. The piece is, it may be said at once, devoid of literary merit, but
its deficiencies in this way are more than compensated for by the talent of the performers and by the liberality of the management in staging the production. The framework of the piece is found.in Victor Hugo's "Notre Dame de Paris," and the scene o£ the first act is laid in a market place within view of Notre Dame. There have assembled a number of gipsies, and one of them, Bsmeralda, has three admirers, Captain Phcobus, Claude Frollo, and Quasimodo.- The first-mentioned is, however, betrothed to Fleur-de-lis, and this complicates mattars somewhat, as the latter, who is a lady with a temper, is not disposed to give up without a struggle her claims to a dashing young officer. Quasimodo is a dwarf and a hunchback, and Bsmeralda not unnaturally spurns his advances, while she as naturally prefers the young and handsome soldier to a middle-aged monk—more especially a monk of the deepest dye—such as Frollo. His proffered love having been emphatically rejected, the latter seeks to revenge himselE by stabbing a bibulous soldier named Gringolre, and then aocusing Eameralda of the crime. The gipsy is arrested and thrown into prison, where she is visited by Frollo, who promises to procure her escape if she will but consent to marry him, but she thinks the price paid would be too great for her liberty, and that she chose wisely she learns in an interview with Quasimodo, who assures her that he is in a position incontrovertibly to establish her innocence. She is also visited by Phcobus in the robe 3of an avocat, and he offers to defend her at the trial. Claude Frollo prosecutes in the court, which is held under the presidency of a judge who smokes a long pipe during the proceedings, and Bsmeralda is acquitted through Gringoire being produced by Quasimodo, it being thereby settled that he was not killed at all. The burlesque contains two acts, the first of which drags somewhat, the fun in the second one being, however, fast and furious. From a spectacular point of view, the production of '• Miss Bsmeralda" was beyond all praise. The scenery, painted by Mr G. Gordon, was greatly admired, the set representing the Jardin dv Paris eliciting a hearty round of applause, and many of the costumes worn were exceedingly handsome. The great interest of those present was felt in the appearance of Mr B. J. Lonnen as Claude Frollo —a part originally created by him. The recitative delivered by him in the most approved melodramatic fashion immediately after his first entry for the evening convulsed the house with laughter, and all through it was Mr Lonnen upon whom the attention of the audience was principally bestowed. His wonderful resource ag an actor had heavy demands made upon it during the performance, all of which were successfully fulfilled. The song " Killaloe," which is greatly associated with Mr Lonnen's name, was given by him in the second act, and was received uproariously by the house, who succeeded in obtaining a repeat verse — a double encore being, however, declined. A distinct hit was achieved by Mr Lonnen in his represention of a type of an Australian larrikin. Living models for the purpose of study were abundantly to be found in Sydney, where, evidently, Mr Lonnen was careful to keep his eyes open in the course of his peregrinations, with the result that he is able to present a reasonably faithful likeness of a member of a "push." With broad-brimmed hat perched on one side of his head, with short coat, with numerous cheap trinkets dangling from the chain which is extended across the front of the waistcoat, with bell-bottomed trousers of the familiar cut, with high-heeled boots, with the hair brushed smoothly down upon the forehead, with a knowing expression upon the face, and with a "quid" of tobacco rolling about in his mouth —such was the picture presented by Mr Lonnen, and the public recognition of the faithfulness of the likeness was indicated by the rousing encore which was accorded to his song, "I've chucked up the push for a dona." Mr Lonnen was also conspicuously successful in his coster song and dance, " The little nipper," in which, unfortunately, he had not the assistance of the urchin who ably helped him in Sydney. Mr Courtneidgo apparently possesses a special fasulty for representing persons who have been "in the Bun," and his Corporal Gringoire was exceedingly amusiDg as well as clever. His song, _ " Doing a little bit," secured au imperative encore, however libellous some of the insinuations contained in. it may have been regarded. Mr Berfc Haslem, who had slender opportunities in the previous production of exhibiting his abilities, revealed himsalf as a character actor of considerable power, his representation of the hunchback Quasimodo being distinctly strong and effective. Miss Addie Conyers, who made Bsmeralda as charming a gipsy as she can have been meant to be, had not a great deal to do. A solitary solo, " Once dear love," to which there is a delightful accompaniment, sung in the prison scene, was tastefully rendered by her, and secured for her the compliment of an encore. Miss Alice Lethbridge received an encore for each of two skirt dances, which she executed with the grace and nimbleness that, as she had previously shown, are to be expected from her, special recognition being extended to her dance in the concluding scene, in which, in a cloud of voluminous white skirts, she went daintily through some graceful measures. Miss Alice Learner also gave a couple of fantastic dances very cleverly, and obtained an encore for each, while her piquant rendering of a song entitled " Twiggezvous" elicited a very enthusiastic encore. For a mirth-provoking medley by Miss Leamar and Mr Courtneidge the vocalists might have accepted the plaudits as implying a demand for a repetition, but they declined to do so. Mias Lelia Roze made a very handsome Captain Phcobus, and in doing so she fairly fulfilled her mission in the play, though she might have taken an encore for her singing of "The dashing little soldier" ;\ and Captain Phcebus's friend Ernest found an attractive representative in Miss Aggie Kelton. Miss Laura Honey afforded amusement as the middle-aged guardian to Fluur-de-lis, and Mr Harry Gribbeu, who is not new to Dunedin, supplied some capital comedy in the character of the judge. The dancing was a specially noteworthy feature of the burlesque. The Gaiety chorus acquitted themselves with great credit in this respect, a dance of masqueraders, which was picturesque as well as pretty, being particularly admirable. Miss Couyors, Messrs Lonnen and Haslem had to repeat a song and dance given by them in the second act, and a dance by Misses Lethbridge, Conyers, Kelton, and Mr Lonnen was also loudly applauded, an encore being declined. The production was received throughout with absolute enthusiasm, and there were an exceptional number of encores claimed and granted duriug the evening. The magnificence of the spectacle that was preseuticl greatly impressed the audience. Admirable as was the management
on i;he stage, the work of tho orchestra, conaiK'ic.d by Mv Novell Phillips, a]«o fluservea racogmtioa, Mr Meyer Lutz'fs charming musio buing splendidly plnycd. " Miss Esmeralda" will bo repeated to-nigho lor the last time.
Mas S. A. Ar.LßN's World's Haiii Restorer never fails to restore grey hair to its youthful colour, cleanses the scalp, removes dandruff.
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Otago Daily Times, Otago Daily Times, Issue 9753, 1 June 1893
THE GAIETY COMPANY. Otago Daily Times, Issue 9753, 1 June 1893
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