Category: The London Stage 1910-1919: A Calendar of Productions


I was recently perusing the excellent website Over the Footlights [www.overthefootlights.co.uk] and came across an entry for a musical, Very Good, Eddie! This had been performed in 1918 at the Palace, a theatre which I had excluded in the 1910-1919 Calendar on the grounds that it presented variety entertainments. However, I clearly should have made an exception for this musical comedy.  Below is the entry as it might have appeared; the information has been gathered from several sources, not least the invaluable Footlights mentioned above.

18.121b Very Good, Eddie! (MC, 2a) Jerome Kern (mus) and Schuyler Greene (lyr) and Melville Gideon (songs) and Sylvio Hein (songs) and Guy Bolton (bk) and Philip Bartholomew (bk; based on his Overnight, 1911). Palace 18/5/1918. 46 perf [w/W, Th, S mats; add mat 21/5]. 1st perfd Van Curler, Schenectady, 9/11/15. Eddie Kettle Nelson Keys; Dick Rivers Walter Williams; Percy Darling Stanley Turnbull; Al Cleveland Ralph Lynn; George François de Rougemont André Randall; A Purser George Grundy; Coloured Steward E. Trimmingham. Georgina Kettle Helen Temple; Elsie Darling Nellie Briarcliffe; Mme Matroppo Veronica Brady; Elsie Gray Madge Saunders; Victoria Lake Beryl Harrison; A Booth Girl Evie Graham. Pres Alfred Butt; Dir Guy Bragdon; Ch George Shurley; Mus dir Jaques Heuvel. Reviews: Stage 23/5/1918, 12; Times 20/5/18, 9. Comment: The plot concerned two couples of differing heights who cross paths on a boat headed to a honeymoon inn in Poughkeepsie and who accidentally trade partners in a farcical manner (Playbill). Times said the piece did not live up to the expectations aroused by the success of the New York production (Princess 23/12/15, 341 perf) but thought it was “just an ordinary cheerful, easy-going musical comedy.” The “first-night audience was thoroughly appreciative.” Stage provided a lengthy description of the “slight but quite sufficiently complicated plot” and concluded the production “provide[d] agreeable light entertainment, and there is no offence in it, despite Eddie’s happily passing exhilaration due to a ‘high ball’ and a ‘chaser.’”

Here’s a review in The Year’s Work in English Studies (2016):

“J.P. Wearing’s epic series of reference books on the London stage has proved an invaluable resource for theatre scholars since it first started to appear in the 1970s. Covering details about productions at every major London theatre from the 1890s to the 1950s, The London Stage: A Calendar of Plays and Players eventually spanned sixteen volumes. The indexes have now been republished in two monumental editions, which retain the same chronological divisions into decades (1890-9, 1900-0, etc.) with related material. This new publication also includes four key indexes to aid information-gathering: general, genre, theatre, and title. While there has been the occasional quibble about discrepancies with production figures, Wearing’s work remains the most reliable and informative source on plays in London during the first half of the twentieth century, and many will find this two-volume edition of great help.”

 

Theatre in London has celebrated a rich and influential history, and in 1976 the first volume of J. P. Wearing’s reference series provided researchers with an indispensable resource of these productions. In the decades since the original calendars were produced, several research aids have become available, notably various reference works and the digitization of important newspapers and relevant periodicals.

Spanning 1890 through the 1950s, all seven volumes of The London Stage series have been revised, corrected, and expanded. In addition, approximately 20 percent of the material—in particular, information about adaptations and translations, plot sources, and comment information—is new.

Although each volume contains indexes specific to that decade, The London Stage 1890–1959: Accumulated Indexes combines all of the indexes into one comprehensive resource for more efficient research. For example, those wishing to locate all the references to a particular actor, play, or theatre whose history spanned more than one decade will find all of the entries listed in this set.

This set includes four key indexes: general, genre, theatre, and title.

  • The general index consists of numerous subject entries on such topics as acting, audiences, censorship, costumes, managers, performers, prompters, staging, and ticket prices. With approximately 40,000 people listed, this is the largest single source of theatrical personnel on the London stage during this period.
  • The genre index comprises all entries for production types, including comedies, dramas, farces, and tragedies, as well as ballets, operas, adaptations, foreign works, pantomimes, and translations.
  • The theatre index features every building to stage a production, from the Adelphi to Wyndham’s.
  • The title index cites 14,000 productions, identifying every work produced on stage from Domestic Economy in January 1890 to When in Rome in December 1959.


As a supplement to the individual volumes, The London Stage 1890–1959: Accumulated Indexes will be of value to scholars, theatrical personnel, librarians, writers, journalists, and historians.