Troupes [A-F]

Ada Delroy to Buffalo Female Minstrels ……. p.1
California Minstrels to Th’ Drolls ……. p.2
Edward Branscombe’s Dandies to Futurists ……. p.3



Edward Branscombe's Dandies AVTA(1909-18) Englishman Edward Branscombe toured his Jesters troupes around Australia from 1909. He changed the name to The Dandies in 1911 so as to better reflect their elegant style of costume entertainment. Each troupe was distinguished by a colour and had its own exclusive repertoire. Among the most prominent of artists engaged were George Edwards, Claude Dampier, Walter George and Georgie Martin, Joe Brennan and Ida Newton, Harry Borrodale, and Courtney Ford and Ivy Davis. The Dandies played Branscombe’s circuit of capital city garden theatres (open-air) up until 1918.

Image source: Brisbane Courier 9 Aug. (1913), 2.




(1909-1911) Englishman Edward Branscombe toured his Jesters troupes around Australia for several years, having previously managed the Westminster Glee Club and Scarlet Troubadours. The first Jesters troupe, comprising five male and three female artists, made its debut in St Kilda, Melbourne on 9 November 1909. Each week the performers would dress in costumes from a different historical period, while presenting a repertoire of refined songs, dances, scenas and sketches. The final Jesters shows appear to have been played in Perth and regional Victoria in early 1912 (from the end of January 1912 the Perth company’s name was changed The Frolics). Among the best known Jesters were Howard Hall (ex-J.C. Williamson’s), Renn Miller, and English singers Ben Calvert and Florence Henderson.

1:The Richard the Lionheart and Robin Hood period costumes are described in the Theatre Magazine as comprising Lincoln green suits and hats adorned with red quills (for the men), with one exception being a performer who wore the cap of the professional jester; while the women were costumed in russet brown dresses with muslin chemisettes, red underskirts, and caps with white quill feathers. The stage was set up as a forest glade (Oct. 1915, 28).
2: From late-1911 Branscombe began re-branding his Jesters companies as The Dandies so as to better reflect the elegant style of costume entertainment being presented.
Image source: Table Talk (Melbourne) 28 Oct. (1909), 29.



(1895-98) Originally known as Delohery and Speed’s Empire Minstrels for its 1895 Sydney engagement this minstrel, burlesque and vaudeville troupe became the Elite Burlesque, Minstrel and Variety Company when it debuted in Brisbane that same year (it was also later known by other name variations). Essentially revolving around Delohery, Craydon and Holland (the “Australian Team”) and W.H. “Billy” Speed, other high profile artists associated with the company included: Steve Adson, the Fausts [below], Bovis Brothers, Sydney Deane, Florrie Ranger, Amy Rowe, Tom Edwards, and Horace and Lorrie St George.



Stray Leaves advert [GH 20 Oct 1883, 5](1879-1884) Founded by Ella Carrington and her husband/business manager Charles Fuller, along with actor/writer Charles H. Taylor (also tour manager), the Stray Leaves travelled through Australia and New Zealand for some five years, playing both metropolitan theatres and regional centres. The company, initial comprising Carrington, Taylor, Nellie Mansell, J.F. Forde, and pianist J.A. Delaney, presented a combination of dramatic/comedy sketches, songs and dances presented under titles such as Stray Leaves, Appointments, Scraps and Troubles. Later members included Lillie Reid (piano), Mr A. Carter (piano), Carrie Williams, Mr P. Spiller and Charles Fuller himself.

The company received much unwanted publicity in late 1880 and throughout 1881 after Carrington, Reid and Taylor were arrested and charged with the murder of an infant. All charges were later dropped when it was proven that Carrington had suffered a miscarriage. Reid, who was also pregnant at the time, later sued the policeman who charged her.
Image source: Goulburn Herald (NSW) 20 Oct. (1883), 5.



aka Elton Black-Kate Howarde Revue Co / Elton Black’s Town Topics

(1915-16, 1918-19, 1926-27) Elton Black and Kate Howarde debuted their revusical company in 1915 at Howarde’s Sydney theatre, the National (Balmain). The line-up then included Peter Brooks and Clifford O’Keefe (later with Stiffy and Mo), Billy Maloney and Pearl Livingstone. They took the troupe to New Zealand for the Fullers but Howarde returned to Australia leaving Black to oversee the shows. After the couple separated in 1918 Black revived the company several times, including a 1926 New Zealand tour. In 1927 the company was known as Elton Black’s Town Topics.



(1927-28) An altogether separate company to Elton Black Revue Company, the New Follies was a Brisbane-based variety company which played a seven months season at the Cremorne Theatre between early December 1927 and mid-February 1928. Its high-class variety show comprised elements of vaudeville, revue, burlesque and musical scenas, with music that ranged from popular to operatic. Among the artists engaged were Alice Bennetto, Nell Fleming, Moon and Morris, George Moon Jnr and Vic Roberts. One of the highlights of the Follies’ season was the 1927 Christmas pantomime, Aladdin (written by Vic Roberts).



(Australasia: 1892-1893) Veteran blackface comedian/entertainer Billy Emerson was persuaded to make his third (and final) Australasian tour by Martin Simonsen. He and George H. Wood (“the somewhat different comedian”), arrived in Sydney in mid-August 1892 with eight other “Alabama Minstrels” (notably Charles Gerrard and Gus Franks). The line-up was quickly expanded with local or locally-based talent – among them John Fuller, George Dean, Tom Burton, and Tom Edwards. Although accorded good press and bumper houses in Australia, the tour was not a happy one for Emerson. The troupe disbanded abruptly in early-January 1893 and was re-organised for Launceston and New Zealand. Only Emerson, Wood, Gerrard and Franks remained. The support cast was reportedly inferior to the previous line-up, and the tour was subsequently beset with internal troubles. The end came after the third show in Wellington (23 March), forty-one days after the Dominion tour began.

  • See also: Billy EmersonEmerson’s California Minstrels [below] • Emerson’s Minstrels [below]
1. The American performers were Billy Emerson, George H. Wood, Edward Stowe, Tom Queen, William Harvey, M. Jacklin, Charles Gerrard, James Howard, Fred M. Winans, John J. Leonard, Gus Franks, Tom Jefferson. H. Diederichsen was the music director/conductor. The overall line-up was said to be upwards of 27.
2. The first troupe featured three bones (Stowe, Harvey and Jefferson) and three tambos (Queen, Leonard and Franks). George Dean was the Interlocutor. The Australian tour itinerary was Sydney, Goulburn, Melbourne, Bendigo, Ballarat, andAdelaide.
3. Ed. Stowe and Tom Queen both worked in Australia for several years, while Gus Franks remained active in the Australian variety industry up until at least the early-1920s.
4. Much of the blame for the disappointing tour was directed at Martin Simonsen. His inexperience likely rankled with the American professionals, while his decision to adopt a low-key publicity campaign in New Zealand (no bill posting and small-scale newspaper adverting) subsequently led to limited reviews and pars, and hence poor houses. Simonsen also reportedly left the Dominion with considerable debts.
5. The second troupe featured at least five women. Those identified were C. Lyndon, Arthur Lovell, John Cullen, Mr Glen, Charles L. Naylor (interlocutor), Louie Byron, May Clinton, Ethel Clifford, Alice Lethbridge, and Little Lillian (12 year old-trick shooter) and her father, Prof. Renier. Its itinerary included Launceston (Tasmania), Invercargill, Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington (New Zealand).



(Australlia: 1873-74) Emerson’s Minstrels were formed in Chicago in 1870 and later played San Francisco for two years. Although only five members of the Californian line-up came to Australia, several American performers already in the country, as well as a few locals, were engaged by Emerson upon his arrival, boosting the numbers to 15 (and later 17 or more). The Australian tour, billed as Emerson’s California Minstrels, began in Melbourne on 2 August 1873 and concluded in Sydney on 5 June the following year. In between were two return engagements in Melbourne and Sydney, and one season each in Geelong, Ballarat (Victoria) and Adelaide. When Emerson returned to the USA some of the performers remained and went on to co-establish the California Minstrels and later the U.S. Minstrels.

  • See also: Billy EmersonEmerson’s Minstrels [below] • Emerson and Woods’ Alabama Minstrels [above] • California Minstrels [above] • U.S. Minstrels [1]
1. Members of the Australian touring party included: Billy Emerson, M. Ainsley Scott, Thomas Campbell, G.W. Rockefeller, Charley Sutton, Charles A. Boyd (music director), Henry Ackland, A. Carroll, C. Wallace, Charles Holly and Tom Buckley. The only female performer to have appeared with the company was Nellie Morton (first Sydney season).
2. The performers who remained after Emerson’s departure included Rockefeller, Scott, Sutton, Ackland, Boyd and Campbell.



(Australasia: 1885-1886) While in Chicago in early-1870 Billy Emerson founded the first company to bear only his name. By the end of the year it had established itself as one of San Francisco’s most popular blackface troupes, and is still considered one of America’s greatest. In 1873 Emerson took a reorganised troupe to Australia where it toured as the California Minstrels. When he returned twelve years later with Emerson’s Minstrels it became one of the most significant tours of the Australasian minstrel era. The high quality of the shows increased audience expectations and put pressure on local writers and producers of burlesque and farce to match its standard of excellence. The tour’s success also convinced the Cogill brothers (Charles and Harry), Dan Tracey, Alf Holland, James Walsh and Billy King to remain when the tour concluded. All six were to have a significant impact on the development of the local variety industry.

  • For further details see Billy EmersonEmerson’s California Minstrels [above] • Emerson and Woods’ Alabama Minstrels [above]
1. Other members of the company included: Benjamin Clark, Charles, Burt Stanley, and Gus Pickley. The music director was Charles W. Reinhart.
2. The Australian tour was conducted between 13 April and 16 December 1885. The itinerary comprised Sydney, Parramatta, Goulburn, and Albury (New South Wales); Melbourne, Bendigo, Echuca Castlemaine, Ballarat, and Geelong (Victoria); Adelaide, Port Adelaide (South Australia); Melbourne (return season); Hobart (Tasmania); and New Zealand (from 26 Dec. 1885 to 27 Mar. 1886). Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Napier and Auckland were the Dominion centres visited.
3. The Cogill brothers left the troupe at the conclusion of the second Melbourne season, and were replaced by Alf Lawton. Dan Tracey returned to Australia prior to Christchurch season. He does not appear to have been replaced.



aka Melvin, Bent & Norman / Liddle, Melvin, Bent & Norman

(1867-1868) In July 1867, six months after the demise of the Australasian-touring Christy’s Minstrels, former members J.H. Melvin, Thomas Rainford, and W.H. Bent put together the English Glee and Burlesque Opera Company for a tour of select Queensland centres. Showcasing “glees, quartettes, trios, songs, ballads, pianoforte fantasias, and comicalities etc,” along with burlesque productions of well-known operas, the ensemble also featured Linley Norman (music director/pianist) and Miss M.A. Liddle. The ensemble later played Sydney and regional New South Wales (with the addition of Octavia Hamilton and T. Holme Davis). Melvin, Bent and Norman (and later Liddle), toured a similar show under their own names in early 1868. The original line-up was revived in May with the addition of J.C. Rainer and toured as the English Glee company until 21 August.

1: Among the operas to be burlesqued were: The Bohemian Girl (also a feature of the Christy’s Minstrels repertoire), Lucrezia Borgia, La Somnambula, Lucia Di Lammermoor, and Maritana.
2: The 1867 tour incl. Queensland – Brisbane, Maryborough, Rockhampton, Ipswich and Toowoomba; New South Wales – Maitland, Morpeth, Singleton, Armidale and Uralla.
3: The 1868 tour incl. New South Wales – Young, Grenfell, Gundagai, Tumut, Adelong; Victoria – Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong and Hamilton; Tasmania – Launceston, Hobart.
4: W.H. Bent served as the troupe’s secretary and business manager. J.C. Rainer took over the business manager duties from ca. May 1868.
5: Melvin, Linley, Norman and Bent remained in Tasmania until March 1869 presenting various individual or short-term entertainments together or in different combinations, as well as involving themselves in local theatrical activities – largely in Hobart and Launceston.



aka Famous Pierrots / English Pierrots / Will and Rob Thomas’s English Pierrots

English Pierrots [MP 29 June 1905, 36](Aust: 1904-1920) English society entertainers Will and Rob Thomas debuted their show in Australia at St James Theatre, Sydney on 4 April 1904. Billed simply as the Pierrot Entertainers, the three pierrots and one pierette presented an entire show of humorous and sentimental songs and instrumentals (including coon songs and banjo solos), musical and humorous sketches and recitals, monologues and illustrated lecturettes. The line-up was later expanded, with frequent changes over time, and at one stage the Thomas’s also introduced moving pictures. During the next 16 years the popular ensemble played engagements in most capital cities and in many regional centres. The Pierrots also played New Zealand on at least one occasion (1905).

1: The troupe’s Australian headquarters for many years was St Kilda, Melbourne. After Rob Thomas died in 1920 several of its members bought the company, but it did not continue for long.
2. Artists identified with the troupe to date are: W. Armstrong (1908-09), Leslie Austin (1907-18), Avalon Collard (1907), Roy Cooke (1915-18), Shirley Cooke (1917), George Denby (1915), Mr Gollmick (1908-09), Madge Griffiths (1916), Nellie Holden (1909), Leslie Holmes (1916), George Horton (1915-16), Elsa Langley (1908-1919), Charles Lawrence (1913-20), David Lyle (1916-18), Olive Meron (1907), L. Mitchell (1916), Elsie Rosslyn (1915-18), Madge Scott (1917), C. Throsby, (1908-09), W.P. Turner (1909-18), Billie Wilson (1915-19), Rima Young (1918-19). Years are those identified to date.
3: Sydney Hollister appeared with the company in Adelaide in 1917. He was then lessee of the Exhibition Gardens.
Image: Will and Rob Thomas; Source: Punch (Melbourne) 29 June (1905), 36.



aka Eric Masters’ Maxims

(1928) Put together by Eric Masters in late May 1928 for a season at Fullers‘ new Bijou Theatre [2], Melbourne, the Merry Whirls made its debut on 9 June. Headed by Stud Foley and Iris Ackworth, and supported by Bert Vasco‘s jazz band, the company presented a season of revue up until 13 July (with comedy pianist Nat Hanley joining for the last week). On 11 August Masters and most of the company, including Hanley, opened for a season at Brisbane’ Cremorne Theatre, billed as Eric Master’s Maxims. Will Butland’s orchestra provided the music. The Maxims remained at the Cremorne until 5 October, with Clem Dawe’s Frolics taking over the following night.

Personnel incl. Iris Ackworth, Will Beresford, Doreen Carroll, Two Dalys (M), Winnie Edgerton, Nell Fleming (M), Stud Foley, Nat Hanley, Eddie and Decima McLean, Al Mack, Eric Masters, Al Maurice (M), Cecil Scott, Nan Taylor, Alme Valdor (M), Lance Vane (M), and the Exquisite Eight. (M = Melbourne only).



aka Backus and Rainer’s Serenaders

Ethiopian Serenaders (2) - ad [IM 28 Apr 1856, 7](1856-1857) Not to be confused with Rainer’s Ethiopian Serenaders (ca. 1853-55), this minstrel troupe came together for a Volunteer Fire Company benefit at Sydney’s Royal Victoria Theatre on 17 April 1856. Comprising D.F. Boley and W.A. Porter (Backus Minstrels), T.P. Brower, J.M. Foans, and Neil Bryant (Rainer’s Ethiopians) and J.E. Kitts (New York Serenaders), the troupe debuted as the Ethiopian Serenaders in Wollongong in late April, and went on to play shows in Sydney and regional New South Wales until around mid-1857. The line-up expanded over time with the inclusion of various local artists – both male and female.

1: The name Ethiopian Serenaders had been used by the Backus Minstrels (from around March 1856) as a feature act during their shows. By that time Neil Bryant had joined the troupe, having left Rainer’s Ethiopian Serenaders.
2: D.F. (Dan) Boley. See also Boley’s Minstrels [above].
Image source: Illawarra Mercury 28 Apr 1856, 7


ETHIOPIAN SERENADERS: See also Ethiopian Serenaders [1]


Please Note: “Ethiopian Serenaders” was a commonly-used minstrel troupe name in Australia between the late-1840s and 1860s (generally preceded by the name of its leader). Such troupes include: The Ethiopian Serenaders [1] (ca. 1848-49), Howard’s Ethiopian Serenaders (ca. 1852), Woods Ethiopian Serenaders (ca. 1857), White’s Ethiopian Serenaders (ca. 1858-59), and several “Amateur Ethiopian Serenaders” troupes between 1859 and the mid-1860s. More details on these troupes is forthcoming in the AVTA.



(ca. 1873-1896) Acrobats, musicians, pantomime and sketch artists.

The Faust Family of Acrobats developed a touring act which also incorporated theatrical and musical performances (under the direction of cornettist Charles Von Der Mehden). They toured the Australasian region with Chirani’s Circus in the mid-1880s and later for J.C. Williamson, Charles B. Hicks and George Rignold among others. The Faust company disbanded in the mid-1890s after various members either retired or moved on to pursue other career opportunities.



aka Band Box Co-Optimists / Bandbox Revue Co

F. Gayle Wyer BBRC [E15 Dec 1926, 30](1924-ca 1929) While in Australia working as lawyer for a US oil firm F. Gayle Wyer was induced by the Fullers to return to his former occupation as a burlesque producer. He subsequently put together his Band Box Revue Company, with the initial line-up featuring Billy Bovis, Sadie Gale and Walter Cornock. Later members included Vera Benson, Charles Norman, Sam J. Ward and Ward Lear Jnr. The troupe toured through both Australia and New Zealand presenting Wyer’s revusicals, vaudeville programmes and occasional pantomimes until late 1929 (at which time it was known as the Co-Optimists).



Fisk Jubilee Singers - ca. 1886 (J.B.T Marsh]Formed at Fisk University (USA) in 1871, the original Jubilee Singers introduced spirituals to America, England and Europe until 1878. After reviving the concept in 1879, Frederick Loudin brought the Fisks to the Antipodes (1886-89), with Orpheus McAdoo touring his Singers twice during the 1890s. The last troupe remained for several years after his death in 1900. Fisk troupes returned at least six times between 1905 and 1936, with the longest tour lasting nine years. A radio series “The Story of the Fiske Jubilee Singers” was broadcast frequently during the 1930s and early 1940s.

McAdoo Jubilee Singers poster []Australasian tours by various Fisk Jubilee Singers (and known managers) included: 1886-89 (Frederick Loudin) • 1892-94 (Orpheus McAdoo) • 1898-1902 (Orpheus McAdoo / R.H. Collins) • 1905-1907 (R.H. Collins / Clarence H. Tisdale) • 1909-10 (R.H. Collins / Prof. C.A. White, Music Dir.) • 1914-1922 (Prof. C.A. White, Music Dir.) • 1923-25 (Marshall Palmer) • 1927-28 (Marshall Palmer) • 1936 (Huntley Spencer, New Zealand only).

1: Several Fisk Singers troupes were briefly established in Australia following the 1886-89 tour.
2: 1892-94: Initially referred to as the Virginia Jubilee Singers, the troupe was largely billed as the Fisk Jubilee Singers.
3: 1898-1902: Although mostly billed as McAdoo’s Jubilee Singers between 1898 and 1900, the term Fisk was nevertheless frequently applied to the troupe in newspapers. Following McAdoo’s death in April 1900 the troupe was once again billed as the Fisk Jubilee Singers.
Images: Top – Loudin’s Fiske Jubilee Singers, ca. 1886 (source: J.T. March The Story of the Fiske Jubilee Singers); Bottom: McAdoo’s Jubilee Singers poster (



aka Fitzgerald Brothers Vaudeville, Dramatic and Musical Combination / Clifton-Vane Refined Vaudeville and Dramatic Co

Fitzgerald's All Stars [CRE 25 May 1912, 12]

(1912, 1914-15) Eminent dramatic actor S.A. Fitzgerald put together his All Stars dramatic and vaudeville company for a New South Wales Northern Rivers tour in mid-1912. The line-up featured his four sons – actors Max Clifton, Lance Vane and Clifton Stephens, and circus acrobat/ comedian Jim Gerald. Other artists included Nellie Morrison, Miss Ray Anderson, Miss Erica and the Renee sisters. Re-organised in April 1914 as the Clifton-Vane Company, the new troupe toured through New South Wales and Queensland until early 1915. Among the new members were Essie Jennings, Pattie Holt, Gladys Thomas.

Image source: Clarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW) 25 May(1912), 12.



(1889) Using his industry connections, music director/showman Hermann Florack secured the services of some of F.E. Hiscocks‘ former Federal Minstrels to feature in an season of minstrelsy at Sydney’s Haymarket Music Hall beginning 16 March 1889. Among the ex-Hiscocks artists were Beaumont Read, George Turner, J.S. Porter and Charles Holly. Other artists included Harry Clay, Tom Buckley, Arthur Farley, Lucy Fraser, Frank York, Mons Provo, Arthur Sullivan. Harry Cottier, Ethel Silvena, and Johnny Cowan. Florack also contributed music (including overtures) to the programmes. According to the Evening News, the opening programme was in keeping with the business that had long ago made the Federals popular (18 Mar. 1889, 3). The season ran until late May.

1: In a move guaranteed to incite the anger of Hiscocks, Florack billed his company the Federal Minstrels and advertised it as a “Grand Re-formation” (Hiscocks had recently disbanded his Federals troupe). A few days later Hiscocks gave the venture additional publicity (through paid advertisements) by refuting any connection with the company and claiming he owned the rights to the name. Florack responded with a letter to the Editor arguing that the artists had the right to appear under the name they were most associated with.
2: The last advertisement for the season was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 27 May. No final show was announced.


THE FOLLIES [Hobart, 1920-1921]

(1920-1921) Following the end of the Famous Diggers season at Hobart’s Temperance Hall, C.W. Webber took over the venue’s lease and opened for business on 9 October 1920 with an unnamed vaudeville company. The line-up was specially selected by comedian Fred Bluett. From 20 November until 28 January 1921 (the end of Webber’s lease), the entertainment was billed as The Follies. The company’s debut performance featured Will J. Saunders, Fred Webber, Gladys Shaw, Olga Pennington, Ernest Pitcher, Hilton Lucas, the Illusive Foyles, and Desperado and Rose among others. Webber engaged Will Saunders as director, Fred Webber as music director and Rupert Foyle as stage manager. Artists to later join the Follies included Will Carlyon, Muriel Phillips, Captain Winters and his Educated Animals, and Gerard (Hypnotist).

1. The company selected by Fred Bluett featured F.J. Sidney & Co (acrobats), the Lee Chee Loon Troupe (illusionists), Kate Gourley (“the girl from Glasgow”), the Musical Shirleys, Hal Scott (baritone), Ted Russell (comedian), and Fred and Winifred (patter/sketch artists).



aka Fullers’ Follies of Pleasure / Les Bates’ Follies of Pleasure

Follies of Pleasure [TT Sept 1916, 43]

(1916-1918) American producer Murray Simons came to Australia for Fullers’ Theatres in July 1916 to oversee the initial Follies of Pleasure productions. Specialising in musical/burlesque comedies and revusicals, the company debuted at the Adelphi, Sydney, with a line-up that included US imports Helen Le Cain and Walter Johnson. A re-organised company then toured the Fullers Australian and New Zealand circuits until early 1918. Key members of the Follies included Les Bates (under whose name it also became known), Con Moreni, Les Warton, Madge Moore, Lalie Brooke, Arthur Elliott and Muriel Esbank.

Image: Male members of the Follies of Pleasure. Source: Theatre Magazine Sept. (1916), 43.



(1891-1893) Formed in mid-1891 by Fred Davys and Georgie Devoe, the Bright Lights troupe undertook two regional tours in Australia (1891) and year-long tour of New Zealand (1892). Specialising in musical farces and miniature pantomimes, there was also an emphasis on spectacular limelight effects, transformation scenes and Davys’ giant marionettes.



(1935) Formed in Melbourne in August 1935 for a three weeks tour of Tasmania, the Frivolities was managed by Barney Barnes, and presented a first part vaudeville program and second part revusical. The line-up was a mix of well-known stage and radio personalities, with George “Hermie” Ward the biggest name (Tasmanian children knew him as “Uncle Hermie” from the popular 3DB children’s program). Ward also contributed the revusicals for the tour. Among the other artists engaged were 3UZ announcer and comedy/musician Ken Collie, all-round entertainer Myrtle McDonald, singer Ida Raymond, acrobat/contortionist Doris Haslena, comedian Hal Bertini, musician Stan Seddon, lightning sketch artist Poster King, equilibrist Cardigan, and a ballet/chorus for the revusicals.

The tour began in Burnie on 12 September. Other recorded destinations were Devonport, Ulverstone, Penguin, Launceston and Hobart.



aka Ward-Sherman Revue Co

Fullers' American Revue Co [TT Apr 1921, 21](1921-ca. 1925) In 1920 the Fullers brought US comedians George H. Ward and Charles L. Sherman to Australia as a vaudeville act. The following year they began touring their own revusical company – initially called Fullers’ American Revue Company and later the Ward-Sherman Revue Co. Among the company’s best known members were Les Warton, Harry Burgess, Mabelle Morgan, Curly Sherwood, Winnie Trevail and Ivy Moore. After Sherman left the company in 1924 his role was taken over by Hebrew comedian Bert Le Blanc. The troupe then became known as the George Ward Revue Co (and later the Whirl of Mirth Co).

Image source: “Ward-Sherman Revue Co.” Theatre Magazine Apr. (1921), 22.



aka Reg Harrison’s Futurists / The English Futurists

(1920-1925, 1927-1928) Although this Futurists company underwent different leadership phases during its lifetime, one constant was the presence of comedians G.W. Desmond and Cyril Northcote. After making its debut in Western Australia in late-1920 the troupe toured internationally as a costume comedy company until late-1923 under the management of singer Fred Monument. Desmond and Northcote briefly revived the troupe a year later, playing Sydney’s Haymarket Theatre and Brisbane’s Tivoli. The Haymarket season included several radio broadcasts by Farmers Service in 1924 and on their return to Sydney the following year the station produced several studio shows. Ex-Huxham’s Serenaders comedian Reg Harrison oversaw a four month Tasmanian engagement in 1925, after which the company took a hiatus. Desmond and Northcote revived the Futurists for Melbourne radio station 3LO (1927-1928) and toured New Zealand (as the English Futurists) in association with Joe Brennan during the same period.

1: The 1920 Fremantle line-up included: Cyril Northcote (also scenic artist), G.W. Desmond, Claire Solly, Lillian Skinner, Peter Roxby.
2: The 1921-1923 international tourists were Cyril Northcote (also scenic artist), G.W. Desmond, Gladys Walsh, Ira Bissett. Scott Clark was business manager. The tour included Java, the Federated Malay States, Ceylon, Burma, India, Afghanistan, Uganda, Rhodesia, South Africa. Most countries were reportedly played two or three times.
3. Desmond and Northcote’s Futurists (1924-1925) included: Cyril Northcote (also scenic artist), G.W. Desmond, Ira Bissett, Gladys Thomas, William Beresford, Hilda Sutton, Vera Murray.
4. Performers engaged by Reg Harrison in 1925 were: Reg Harrison, Cyril Northcote, G.W. Desmond, Courtney Ford, George Correlli, Gus Dawson, Winnie Edgerton, Ernest Powell, Eily Dalgleish, Ira Bissett (aka Ira Love), Gladys Thomas, Ivy Davis, Dorothy Rona, Mona Potts; and the Futurist ballet. The shows included several revusicals – notably The Night Porter and Midnight at Maxims.
5. The 1927/1928 radio ensemble included: Cyril Northcote, G.W. Desmond, Ira Vanda, Gus Dawson. The New Zealand touring party comprised: Northcote, Desmond, Vanda, and Dawson, along with J.W. Brennan, Ida Newton, George Corelli, Peggy Sharpe, Dell Barnes, Betty Lee and the Cabaret Kittens Ballet.
6. Ira Bissett, Ira Love and Ira Vanda were stage names for Ira Northcote (possibly nee Bissett).
Image source: Above – Daily Mail (Brisbane) 4 Jan. (1925), 11; Below – News (Hobart) 14 July (1925), 6.



aka Cecil Ramsdale’s Futurists

(1927) This Futurists variety company has been identified in connection with Cecil Ramsdale and the Victorian town of Frankston. Comprising local performers the company made its debut at the Palais Theatre on 12 August 1927 with a show produced as a means of raising funds for the Frankston Football club. The original company, which presented a revue-style entertainment, included W. Gilbert, H. Davis, Cecil Ramsdale, Dr Plowman, E. Wykes, Mrs P. Chitty, P. Wheeler, H. Davis, Mrs Gregory, Miss W. Baxter, Miss Willox, Mrs Holman (piano accompaniment). The show’s popularity with the Frankston community saw Ramsdale revive the Futurists for a second show on 8 December in aid of the Frankston Bowling Club.

Interestingly Ramsdale’s company used the Futurists name during the same period that Cyril Northcote and G.W. Desmond were presenting their shows on 3LO, something that the Frankston community would have been aware of. There is no known connection between the two companies, however.
Image source: Frankston and Somerville Standard (Vic) 27 July (1927), 5.


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Published on February 13, 2011 at 7:30 am  Comments Off on Troupes [A-F]