All biographies should be considered incomplete – with research ongoing.
Check the individual PDF pages for “Last Updated” citation details.
McADOO’S GEORGIA MINSTRELS & ALABAMA CAKEWALKERS
(1899-1900) After bringing his Jubilee Singers (aka Fisk Jubilee Singers) to Australia in mid-1898, Orpheus McAdoo returned to the USA early the following year to put together the Georgia Minstrels and Alabama Cakewalkers. The 30 member company opened its Australian tour in June 1899, presenting a high quality three part minstrel show (the shows ended, however, with an exhibition of cakewalking instead of the usual farce). Another feature act was contortionist Ferry the Human Frog. The company folded in early July 1900, shortly after McAdoo was hospitalised with Pernicious anemia. He died on 17 July.
- See also: Orpheus McAdoo.
Image: McAdoo’s Georgia Minstrels and Alabama Cakewalkers, Jan. 1900. Source: State Library of NSW.
MADGE CLOHERTY’S CELEBRITIES
aka Graham Mitchell’s Serenaders
(1938-1939) Madge Cloherty took over Brisbane’s Theatre Royal from Graham Mitchell on New Year’s Eve 1937. The Celebrities (which initially retained the name Graham Mitchell’s Serenaders) remained there until September 1939. Cloherty then began presenting drama at the Royal. Staged under the direction of comedian Len Rich, the company presented a combination of vaudeville and revue. Among the artists engaged by Cloherty were, Syd Beck, Buster Fiddes, George Wallace, Roy Rene, Sadie Gale, Elton Black Nat Hanley, Nellie Kolle, Stud Foley, Stella Lamond and Stanley McKay’s Gaieties.
- See also Graham Mitchell’s Serenaders.
MATSA VAUDEVILLE Co
Following the end of the Melbourne revival in May 1897, J. C. Williamson engaged a number of cast members to form the Matsa Vaudeville Company, which toured New Zealand between June and early August. Among those engaged were John Coleman, Alice Leamar, Frank Lawton, Little Gulliver, Ernest Fitts and Mr Leoni Clarke (the “Cat King”).
THE MERRY MONARCHS
aka Mo’s Merrymakers
(1928-1929) Founded by Roy Rene immediately after the final Stiffy and Mo performance, The Merry Monarchs played the Fuller’s circuit for several months before moving on to the Harry Clay Sydney circuit. A few days after Rene and Sadie Gale were married they took the Merrymakers (as the troupe was then billed) through Queensland for Clay’s. Among the artists engaged by Rene and Gale were Billy Bovis, Peter Brooks, Lulla Fanning, Dan Weldon and Irene Vando. After he disbanded the troupe Rene appeared in Frank Neil’s Melbourne production of Clowns in Clover.
(1928) A costume comedy revue troupe put together and directed by Vic Roberts for a season at the Cremorne Theatre (Bris), the Mirthquakers made its debut in mid-February, following on from Elton Black’s New Follies. Among the artists engaged by Roberts were Bert Le Blanc, Moon and Morris, Linda Foy, George Moon Jnr and the Great Levante. While the entertainment largely comprised vaudeville turns and revue-style sketches, the troupe staged at least one full length musical comedy, Great Scott, before the season closed in mid-June.
MOON AND MORRIS REVUE Co
(1926-ca. 1929) Formed in mid-1926 by English-born dancers and comedians George Moon and Daniel Morris, the Moon and Morris Revue Company presented a combination of revue sketches and vaudeville. The troupe included several well-established and high-profile performers such as former Famous Diggers comedian, Ed Warrington (who wrote much of the material) and Alec Kellaway. The troupe is known to have still been performing around Australia and New Zealand in 1929.
NAT PHILLIPS’ STIFFY AND MO REVUE Co
aka Nat Phillips’ Tabloid Musical Comedy Co
(1916-1925, 1927-29) Nat Phillips Tabloid Musical Comedy Co (later Nat Phillips’ Stiffy and Mo Revue Company, or just Stiffy and Mo) was one of the most popular and influential revusical companies operating in Australia between 1915 and the late 1920s. After forming from the remnants of Albert and Maud Bletsoes company, the line-up remained almost unchanged during its first five years. Over the years the troupe’s high profile line-up included Connors and Paul, Amy Rochelle, Nellie Kolle, Alec and Jack Kellaway, Walter Whyte, Mann and Franks, Peter Brooks, Vince Courtney and choreographer Rosie Bowie.
NAT PHILLIPS’ WHIRLIGIGS
(1925-1927, 1928-1932) Founded by Nat Phillips following 1925 break-up of Stiffy and Mo company, the Whirligigs initially featured Phillips as Oscar the Aussie and Harry Huley as Percy the Pom. Phillips later teamed up with Jack Kellaway as Stiffy and ‘Erb. Phillips revived the Whirligigs immediately after he and Rene split for the final time, but renamed it the Nat Phillips Revue Company in 1930. The troupe disbanded in 1932 following the unexpected death of its leader. Other key artists included Stan “Stud” Foley, Joe Lawman, Stella Lamond and Syd Beck.
(1922-1923) A year after selling his Vogues and Vanities, Cedric Johnson put together a new combination which he named after a promotional slogan used in billing for the previous troupe. The New Ideas opened at Johnson’s Lyric Theatre, St Kilda (Melb) in October 1922 with a line-up featuring Will Charteris, Gladys Wilton, Cliff O’Keefe, Edmund Warrington, Tom Preston, and with lavish setting designed by John Little and Sons. Johnson took a re-organised company to Tasmania between March and late-May 1923, with Bert Gilbert as headline performer. Plans to return later in the year never eventuated.
- See also: Cedric Johnson.
Image source: Argus 7 Oct. (1922), 34.
PALAIS ROYAL CABARET AND VAUDEVILLE Co
(1928-1929) Formed in late 1928 by J. L. Herbert, lessee/manager of Adelaide’s newly remodeled Palais Royal, the troupe comprised both local and interstate performers. Under the direction of comedian Elton Black the 31 member company opened on 8 December with a revue – The Music Box. The month-long season is of some historical interest in that it featured young Adelaide dancer Bobby Helpman (later Sir Robert Helpman). Among the biggest names to appear with the company were Keith Connolly, Ivy Baker, Alice Bennetto, and Sam Ward.
PAUL STANHOPE REVUE Co
(aka Paul Stanhope’s Merry Musical Burlesque Co / Paul Stanhope’s American Burlesque Co / Paul Stanhope’s Musical Comedy Co)
(1914-1921) After the American Burlesque Company disbanded Paul Stanhope toured his own, and effectively helped pioneer the Australian revusical. Initially featuring Les Bates (as Stanhope’s off-sider) and four members of the American Burlesque Co (Harry Ross, George McCall, Teddy Long and Arthur Renshaw), later performers included Helen Le Cain, Val and Lottie Newman, Will Rayner, Phyllis Faye, Polly McLaren, Peter Brooks, Mabel Morgan, Mark Erickson, Ernest Pitcher and Pearl Livingstone. The troupe toured the Antipodes until 1921, albeit with two breaks (1916-17 and 1918), during which time Stanhope returned to the US.
- See also: Paul Stanhope.
RICHARD SHAFTO’S REVELS
(1933) After disbanding the London Revels troupe in mid-1933, Elton Black, his wife Alice Bennetto and comedian Will Miller travelled to Perth to play the Luxor Theatre under Richard Shafto. Billed as Richard Shafto’s Revels, the 22-member company’s feature artists also included Keith Connolly, Stud Foley, Elsie Hoskins, Stan Iveson, Maurice Jaffey, Bill Miller, Eileen Moran and Stanelli and Grace. Continuing through until late October, the season also saw the company augmented by specialty acts such as tumblers Kinrose and Cliftie and comedy juggler Frank Melbourne
THE ROYAL STROLLERS
(aka Sydney James’ Pierrot Pie Co)
(1900-1919) Founded by Sydney James in London in 1900 as a trio (James, G. W. Desmond and Madeline Rossiter) an expanded line-up later toured its costumed music hall act through the British Isles, South Africa (4 times) and the USA before coming to Australia in 1914 (as the Royal Strollers). James changed the name of the troupe to the Pierrot Pie Company in 1918 and shortly afterwards took it to New Zealand followed by India. The tour ended in July 1919, however, when James died from peritonitis en route to Karachi.
- For further details see the Sydney James entry.