Troupes [S-Z]

Sam Dearin’s Minstrels to Swastika Players ……. p.1
Taits’ Variety Entertainers to Ye Olde Nigger Minstrels ……. p.2

˜˜˜

TAITS’ VARIETY ENTERTAINERS

aka Tait’s Vaudeville Entertainers / Taits’ Vaudeville and Pictures

(1910) J. & N. Tait operated its Vaudeville Entertainers in Geelong and Bendigo (Victoria) during the second half of 1910 as a live variety and pictures operation. His Majesty’s Theatre, Geelong, operated on Saturday and Monday nights between 18 June and 8 August, while Bendigo’s Royal Princess’s Theatre offered a vaudeville-only programme three nights a week from 30 July until 11 August (Tues-Thurs) and then vaudeville and pictures from 16 August until 9 November. Among the best-known artists to be engaged were Ella Airlie, Joe Archer, Essie Jennings, Harry Graham, Will Dyson, Lilas Birt, Daisy Silvester, George Walton (“Australia’s Little Tich”), the Gifford Sisters, the Rhodesburys, Walter Melrose, and Wal and Lily Rockley (“Rollicking Rockleys”). Some programmes also included illustrated songs.

► See also: J. and N. Tait

1: The Tait’s manager in Geelong was Grant Hanlon. J.L. Le Breton managed the Bendigo operations.
2: Lilas Birt was later known as Mrs Charlie Vaude.
3: More than 80 acts appeared in Geelong and Bendigo for J. and N. Tait in 1910.

˚˚˚

TED TUTTY’S VAUDEVILLE Co

aka Ted Tutty’s All-Star Vaudeville / Ted Tutty’s Vaudeville and Revue Co

(1918-1924) Best known around Australia as a blackface comedian, and one of Harry Clay‘s leading performers for more than 20 years, Ted Tutty also occasionally toured his own vaudeville companies. His first known company operated around the New South Wales Hunter Valley region from December 1918 to March 1919. In 1922 he took a company through Queensland, utilising his enormous popularity in the state (having toured there seven times for Clay). Tutty’s shows, which invariably featured his wife, Kate (aka Muriel Esbank) and daughter Melvyn, also often included amateur trials, dance competitions, tableaux, and revusicals. His last known company stages shows at Windsor, New South Wales in mid-1924.

1: Artists engaged by Tutty included: Will Dyson, Nellie Brady, Frank Herberte, J. Laidlaw (music director), Tilly and Doris, Clemo, Joe Archer, Emmie May, J. Webb, Dot Brown, Leonard’s Poodles, Hardy Sisters, Bert Brooks, H. Edouin, Eus Bronson, Triss Bronson, Denis Carney, Mercia Morrison, Will Deaveraux, Joseph Halley, Coleman Sisters, Keith and Cairns (1918/1919); Eileen Anderson, Estella Cahill, Desbro and Mac, Éclair Twins, Billy Holt, Joe Hurley, Mona Seard, Ethel Phillips (1922).
2: Tutty’s 1922 Queensland tour operated around the time as Harry Clay, who sent his own company through the state for the first time since 1918.
Image source: Newcastle Sun (NSW) 13 Jan. (1919), 5.

˚˚˚

TIVOLI FROLICS

Tivoli Frolics [BC 10 Nov. 1922, 2]

(1921-1923) A revue company operating under the auspices of Musgrove’s Theatres Ltd (which briefly operated the Tivoli circuit during the early to mid-1920s), the Tivoli Frolics comprised a ballet/chorus billed as the Tivoli Eight (later the Tivoli Six). Harry G. Musgrove debuted the company in Sydney in late-November as the Tivoli Frolics of 1921. Thereafter followed Melbourne (from Boxing Night), Sydney (return season) and Brisbane (from 20 May 1922). The latter engagement, which continued up until 19 January 1923, eventually saw the company work one half of a programme with feature guests appearing in the other. The directors of the Frolics’ shows included Leyland Hodgson and James Goold-Taylor, while prominent performers included Madeline Rossiter, Eric Masters, Hector St Clair, Moon and Morris, Vera Benson and Tal Ordell.

Image source: Brisbane Courier 10 Nov. 1922, 2.

 ˚˚˚

T.O.M.C.A.T.S. (Charters Towers)

(1909-ca. 1911) A semi-professional, initially all-male variety ensemble based in Charters Towers, the T.O.M.C.A.T.S. (Towers Original Minstrels Can Amuse Thousands Society) gave its debut performance at the Theatre Royal on 14 October 1909. By November 1910 the company had given six concerts. Its shows were accompanied by the Apollo Orchestra (conducted by Will M. Jones), and in March 1910 several female performers joined as extras in the farces. The T.O.M.C.A.T.S. appears to have continued entertaining locals until at least 1912. Interestingly, a series of blackface revivals were staged in Charters Towers between March and July 1954 under the billing “Old Time Minstrels.” Advertisements for the shows often included a reference to “T.O.M.C.A.T.S..

The performers identified to date were: Tom Rich, Norman “Banjo” Patterson, John Curtis, R. Spalding, Edward “Teddy” Thompson, George Adair (Snr), Hugh Doherty, W. Galt, Rays Hoffman, W. Tredrea, P. Cole, George Trail, J. C. Jones, the Glover brothers, D. Warren, Mr Newton, Mr Woolford, J. Marlow.

˚˚˚

TOPICS OF 1925

aka Colin Crane’s Topics of 1925

(1924-1926) Colin Crane debuted his Topics of 1925 at Melbourne’s Wickliffe Theatre (St Kilda) on 6 December 1924. Among the feature artists were Nell Fleming, James Foran, “Stud” Foley and Victor Gouriet. The company remained there for some 18 weeks, ending the season on 1 April. After a short break Crane took the Topics to Brisbane, opening at the Cremorne Theatre on 25 April. From 26 July the troupe’s direction was taken over by Dora Warby and from late September by Robert Roberts. At Christmas the Topics staged Cinderella, the pantomime’s popularity seeing it run through until 23 January 1926. Two nights later Roberts debuted a new company – The Crackers.

1: Personnel incl. Colin Crane, Louise Meadows, Syd Beck, George Carney, Iris Ackworth, Stan “Stud” Foley, Nell Fleming, James Foran, Dora Warby, Victor Gouriet, Robert Roberts, Vera Carew, A. G. Spy, Margot Bletsoe, Alda Campbell, Victor Wise, Roma Phillips, Ethel Money, Tiddie Turner, Billie Bright, Jack Woods, Clarice Norman, Cecily Audibert, Harry Avondale, Maurice Jaffey, Maida Jones, Fred Monument, Ina Thornton, Doreen May, Bert Harrow. The music directors were Lou Weichard (Melbourne) and Will Butland (Brisbane).
2: Although headlined by Fred Bluett, The Crackers retained a number of performers from the Topics of 1925, notably Stud Foley, Fred Monument, Maurice Jaffey, Maida Jones and the Will Butland Orchestra.

 ˚˚˚

TOTTEN’S HARMONEONS

(1854-1855) Established in Melbourne in early 1854 by theatrical agent E. Totten, the Harmoneons are known to have toured through regional Victoria and South Australia until late that same year or early 1855. The line-up comprised J.O. Pierce (concertina/flutina/musical director), James E. Kitts (guitar), and Messrs. Thayer (violin), Clark (banjo), Baker (tambo/dancer) and Lee (bones). After the troupe disbanded J.O. Piece spent several years in Bendigo where he was largely employed as a singer at the Shamrock Hotel. E. Totten, who had previously acted as agent for Rainer’s Ethiopian Serenaders was later linked to Rainer’s Serenaders (ca. 1857) and Boley’s Minstrels (1862). James Kitts toured the East and Mauritius before returning permanently to Australia in 1856.

˚˚˚

TOWN TOPICS

(1919-1924) The Town Topics was put together by Walter Johnson for the 1919/20 season at John N. McCallum‘s Cremorne Theatre, Brisbane. In addition to its high class vaudeville offerings the company presented lavish burlesques, musical comedies and pantomimes. Elton Black and Billy Maloney revived the company in 1923 for a season in Adelaide, followed by Sydney. Among the performers associated with the Town Topics were Fred Bluett, Gus Bluett, Amy Rochelle, Nell Fleming, Arthur Aldridge, George Whitehead, Verna Bain, Ivy Schilling, Yorke Gray, Alice Bennetto, Charles Zoli, and music director/composer Fred Whaite.

˚˚˚

THE TRILBY TOURISTS

A short-lived vaudeville company set up in 1896 in order to take advantage of the public’s interest in the Trilby phenomenon, the Trilby Tourists played a season in Brisbane (possibly followed by a North Queensland tour). A re-constituted troupe also later played at least one regional New South Wales centre. The initial line-up included Dan Tracey and Steve Adson, Carlton and Sutton, George Dean, and the Chard Sisters. The second troupe included W. Horace Bent, Harry Clay, Hosea Easton, McKisson and Kearns, Ida Rosslyn, Franks and Williams, along with Steve Adson and Carlton and Sutton.

˚˚˚

TRUMP CARDS REVUE Co

(1924) After returning to Australia in 1921 Claude Dampier and new partner Hilda Attenboro worked as a vaudeville for Harry Musgrove (Tivoli circuit) and the Fullers, while also touring with Pat Hanna‘s Famous Diggers and several of their own line-ups – initially Dampier’s Dandies of 1923, then the New Dandies, Claude Dampier’s Big Revue Co, and finally the Trump Cards Revue Co. This latter troupe, which featured contracted Fullers’ performers, presented five new revues during the last seven weeks of Dampier’s season at Fullers’ Theatre, Sydney (5 July – 22 Aug.). Major cast changes appear to have been made for each show. Among the biggest names to appear with the company were Lola Hunt, Ernest Lashbrooke, and Kyrle Sylvaney (later Kyrle McAllister), Bert Barton and Eileen Boyd.

1: Personnel incl. Rene Albert, Hilda Attenboro, Bert Barton, Eileen Boyd, Sheila Brady, Claude Dampier, Lola Hunt, Ronald Knight, Ernest Lashbrooke, Dorothy Summers, Kyrle Sylvaney (aka Kylre McAllister), G. Taylor,
2: The five new revues presented by Dampier were All Trumps (2 weeks), A Funnier Fare (2 weeks) and Here’s Luck, Hot and Cold, and Brand New (one week each).
3: The Trump Cards moniker was replaced in advertising by either “Claude Damper’s Revue” or “Claude Dampier’s Big Revue” as of late-July. After the Sydney season Dampier travelled to Newcastle (NSW) to work as a solo comedian.

˚˚˚

TUBBY STEVENS’ TIT-BITS REVUE Co

(1927) After returning to Australia from the East, diminutive English comedian Tubby Stevens resigned with Fullers’ Theatres and after a solo engagement in Melbourne was invited to play a season in Perth with his own troupe. Co-starring high profile artists Arthur Aldridge, Frank Perryn, Yorke Grey, and the Linn Smith Jazz Band, the Tit-Bits Revue Company presented a mix of revue and vaudeville with occasional one act musical comedies (revusicals). The line-up also featured Colleen Hope, Daisy Yates, Kitty Crawford (Mrs Tubby Stevens), and Laurie McLeod. Following the end of the Perth season in October Stevens’ opened at in Sydney at the Fullers’ Majestic Theatre, Newtown, with a revamped line-up. The whereabouts of both Stevens and the Tit-Bits after November 1927 is currently unknown.

˚˚˚

VAUDEVILLE SPECIALTY UNION

aka Vaudeville Specialty Co

(1897-1898) Organised for a tour of Tasmania by veteran African-American comedian Johnny Matlock, the Vaudeville Specialty Union’s initial performers were Matlock (interlocutor), Pete Miller (tambo), Fred Bluett (bones), George E. Jones, Vivie Keeling, Eva Wilson, Prof Karl Shertz, Louie Bentley and Miss M. Sugden. Most were based in Melbourne at that time. The tour began in Hobart at the Temperance Hall  on 2 December 1897. Between 15 January and early February the following year the company played seasons in select regional towns, among them Queenstown (Cairns Hall), Zeehan (Academy of Music), Dundas, and Strahan (Pontifax Hall). By mid-January the company had also been expanded by the inclusion of such performers as William Lucifer, James Baxter and Pat Flaherty.

1: During its stay in Hobart, which continued until the second week of January 1898, the company occasionally played elsewhere for one or two performances. Among the engagements further afield was New Norfolk. The company also presented a rational concert at Hobart’s Cascade Tea Gardens in mid-December.
2: The tour was managed by John Matlock. It’s advance agent was Fred Marsh (who also performed with the company at times).
3. Eva Wilson was also known as Mrs Ted Holland.

˚˚˚

THE VERSATILES

aka Ike Delavale’s Versatiles

(1932-1933) Although often referred to as Ike Delavale’s company, The Versatiles was actually established and managed by his brother-in-law Ern Delavale. Ike toured as the headline act only. The initial line-up, formed in Sydney especially for a Queensland tour, opened at Ipswich’s Olympia Theatre on 14 May 1932. With the country still in the grips of depression, the venture struggled from the beginning, however. The Delavales’ tenacity kept it alive until mid-January 1933, at which time Ern was forced into bankruptcy. Prior to this the company had played 14 weeks in Rockhampton, in addition to brief appearances in nearby towns. Over the course of the Queensland tour the Versatiles’ entertainment involved a mix vaudeville, revue, pantomime, minstrelsy, community singing and prize nights.

1: Following the Versatiles’ demise, Rockhampton’s Evening News published a letter from Ike Delavale who expressed his thanks to the people who had patronised their shows and reminded the community that the troupe had helped a number of charities during its stay in the city (“The Versatiles.” 17 Jan. 1933, 6). In a further move to placate the town and help preserved the reputations of those involved, several members of the troupe, including Ike, remained in the Rockhampton region for a week or so. During that time they staged a show in Mount Morgan and took part in several fund-raising events (none of these were presented under the auspices of The Versatiles, though).
2: In addition to Ern Delavale and Ike Delavale, the artists engaged included Lily Vockler (comedienne), Harry North (concertina swaggie), Dolly Bright (soubrette), Nelly Hall (singer), Jay Morris (comedian), Florrie MacCarthy, Thelma Tracey, Betty Ralfs (contortionist), Rosie Mouthier, Harris Sisters (Mildred and Connie), J. B. Vernon (ventriloquist), and Gazza (cannonball wizard and almost blind juggler).
3: During the 1933 New Year the company staged an Olde Time Nigger Minstrel revival.

˚˚˚

VERTO’S BIOTINT & NOVELTY Co

(1905-1911) Established in early 1905, not long after Percy and Millie Verto left the Mutoscope Vaudeville Company, Verto’s Biotint and Novelty Company initially featured Verto (Biotint operator and magician/”handcuff king”), his wife Madam Verto (“vision singer”) Harry Rocks (comedian) and Hugh Huxham (singer). While the line-up changed on a fairly regular basis the number of performers engaged at any one time appears to have remained relatively stable (around 7-9 plus a pianist). After touring almost (if not) exclusively through regional New South Wales and Queensland for seven years the Vertos closed down the tours and settled temporarily to Cairns, where they ran Verto’s Pictures and built the Lyric Theatre in 1912.

Several of the performers engaged by Verto went on to establish profile careers in the Australian variety industry, notably comedians Harry Rocks (1905) and Ted Stanley (1906) and singer Hugh Huxham (1905).

˚˚˚

VERTO VAUDEVILLE Co

aka Myorama Vaudeville Combination

(1899-1900) Established by conjuror and illusionist Percy Verto, the company opened its account in Port Adelaide on 18 December then travelled to Broken Hill, New South Wales. When a re-organised line-up opened at Adelaide’s Theatre Royal on 17 February it did so under the name Myorama Vaudeville Combination. The entertainment for this season included still and moving pictures depicting views and incidents from the Boer War. Performers known to have been engaged by Verto were: Millie Richardson, Harry Deane, Charles Whaite, A. Jamieson, Jaffa, Amy and Florrie Godfrey, Maud Raynor, and Harry Linden. The company’s last known whereabouts was in Wallaroo, South Australia, in mid-March.

The company received unexpected national publicity in early January 1900 following Verto’s bravery in helping to stop a train before it was destroyed by fire. With the driver and guard unaware of the impending danger Verto climb along the outside of seven carriages on the moving train, with only the moldings to hold onto (there being no rails). According to press reports at least 14 women and several men were saved from certain death.

˚˚˚

VETERANS OF VARIETY

Veterans of Variety [TSYD 6 Oct 1929, 22]

(1929) A combination of the past and present generations of vaudeville, the Veterans of Variety company was presented by Jake Friedman at George Marlow‘s Grand Opera House, Sydney, between 5 October and 8 November 1929. The old generation included Friedman, Peggy Pryde, J.C. Bain, Arthur Morley, [Syd] Doody and [Edie] Wright, Harry North,and Marie Maxwell, with the new vaudeville brigade headed by Reg Quartley, Nell Fleming, the Wonderfull Johnsons (acrobats), Rae Foster, and Lionel Hart and his Wintergardians (orchestra). New acts introduced into the show during the latter weeks included Will Raynor, Louie Duggan, and Mons. Poincaire (veterans), along with Chanti, and Johnny Marks (new generation). George Marlow produced a similar show from 9 November.

Additional new artists introduced later in the season included Will and Linda Newman, Lynwood Roberts, Elroy, Peggy and Alfred, Sylvia Post Mason, Sam Harris.
Image: Truth (Sydney) 6 Oct. 1929, 22.

˚˚˚

VITAL & ELECTRIC SPARKS Co

aka Bella Sutherland’s Vital Sparks Co / Bella Sutherland’s Musical & Specialty Co

Vital Sparks [WA 15 July 1892, 1](1892, 1896-1905) Bella Sutherland formed her Vital and Electric Sparks in Adelaide in 1892 for a month-long tour of Western Australia. Among the nine artists engaged were the Leslie Brothers, Little Fred Leslie, Sam Keenan and the Andersons Twins. She re-established the troupe in mid-1896 for a tour of regional Victoria, and continued to revive it for occasional tours through until she settled in Brisbane as proprietress of the Tivoli Gardens, Hamilton (1905). Among the principal artists associated with the troupe were Prof. Gibson (pseudo-medical/science lecturer), Priscilla Verne, Sam Rowley and Alf Santley.

Image source: West Australian 15 July 1892, 1.

˚˚˚

VOGUES AND VANITIES

Vogues and Vanities [ARG 18 Oct 1919, 28](1919-1921) Organised in October 1919 by Cedric Johnson, the Vogues and Vanities vaudeville combination debuted at St Kilda’s Lyric Theatre with a line-up featuring Con Moreni, Charles Zoli, the Dick Dorothy Trio, Cliff O’Keefe and the Vogue Jazz Band. The company later toured throughout Australia bringing in new artists such as Pearl Livingstone, Tom Preston, Heather Belle and Frank Crane. Norman Galsworthy bought the company from Johnson during its September 1921 Hobart season but was forced out of business the following month after being charged and convicted of tax evasion. Johnson soon afterwards formed a new company, the New Ideas.

Image source: Argus (Melbourne) 18 Oct. 1919, 28.

˚˚˚

WALTER GEORGE SUNSHINE PLAYERS

(1921-27) Established in early 1921 by Walter George and Georgie Martin, the Sunshine Players was a musical comedy/revusical troupe largely associated with the Fullers’ circuit. The initial line-up featured Delavale and Stagpoole, who gave way to Jim Gerald and Essie Jennings later that year. Other key members included: choreographer Polly McLaren, Reg Hawthorne, Hylda Shannon and Frank Haining. Gerald, Jennings, McLaren and Hawthorne left in 1921 to form Gerald’s Miniature Musical Comedy Company. The Sunshine Players, which is believed to have disbanded in 1927, also appeared on radio that year.

Image: Fuller News (Sydney) 20 May 1922, 12.

˚˚˚

THE WANDERERS

aka George Stephenson’s Wanderers

Wanderers Co [MA 28 Dec 1912, 12]

(1910-1914) Invariably billed as an English musical comedy company, the Wanderer’s first known Australian engagement was at Wellington, New South Wales in late June 1910. Brought from England (via South Africa) by George Stephenson, the 12-member troupe comprised English artists – notably Louisa Malle (harpist), Leslie Ramsdale (comedian), George Winstanley (male soprano) and the Abbey Quartette. Its music director was Herbert Braham. Local artists to be later engaged included Courtney Ford and Ivy Davis, Mel Brewer, Mabs Howarth and Ruby Esdaile. During its five years touring the region the Wanderers played metropolitan and regional engagements in both Australia and New Zealand.

On a number of occasions the Wanderers also appeared as a self-contained vaudeville act for firms such as Brennan’s Amphitheatres Ltd.
Image: L-R – Ivy Davis, Victor Loydall, Courtney Ford, Ruby Esdaile, George Stephenson, Percy Crawford, Herbert Braham, Mel Brewer, Mabs Howarth. Source: Mail (Adelaide) 28 Dec. 1912, 12.

˚˚˚

WARTON & McKAY’S GAIETIES: See Stanley McKay’s Gaieties

˚˚˚

WEICHARD’S INTERNATIONAL VAUDEVILLE STARS

(1919) Organised for a one-off season in Geelong in 1919, Lou Weichard’s vaudeville company opened at His Majesty’s Theatre on 23 August 1919. While the only members of the company identified to date are Welsh musicians Jones and Raines, and Wiechard (as music director), its publicity records that “every branch of vaudeville, singing, dancing, instrumental music, tumbling, magic [and] juggling will be in evidence” (Geelong Advertiser 19 Aug. 1919, 4). The following month Weichard was music director for a season of vaudeville with an unnamed company at Melbourne’s Playhouse (beginning 13 Sept.). It is likely, given the close proximity of both seasons that the troupes were largely the same.

Performers identified with the Playhouse season were: Harris and Wren (singers), Fred Champion (refined entertainer) Lester and Day (simultaneous dancers), Ruby Brown (acrobatic dancer), Hazel Bromfield (soubrette), Alfreda Willison (soubrette), Leo Mahlstedt (basso), Vivian McGraw (baritone), May Daley (soprano), and the Blue Bird Ballet. The lessee/producer was Alfred Willison.

˚˚˚

WESTERN WALLABIES

aka Nat Hanley’s Western Wallabies

(1921-ca. 1922) After returning to Australia from an extended tour of New Zealand , Nat Hanley secured a short-term contract with Sydney-based vaudeville and film entrepreneur Bert Howard. From around later October 1921 he toured his own company, the Western Wallabies, through parts of western New South Wales. Although only Orange and Bathurst have been identified to date, the regional circuit possibly included Katoomba and Parkes among other towns. Hanley also likely toured the company around Sydney for Howard. No information regarding the artists engaged or the length of time the troupe was active have yet been identified.

˚˚˚

WESTON & HUSSEY’S MINSTRELS

aka Weston, Kelly, Holly & Hussey Minstrels / Hussey, Kelly & Holly Minstrels

(1869-1870) Frank Weston and Frank Hussey joined forces in May 1869, debuting their company at Melbourne’s St George’s Hall (renamed Weston’s Opera House). The season ran from 31 May to mid-January 1870, broken only by a few brief regional engagements (Oct/Nov.). The company then opened in Adelaide (as Weston, Kelly, Holly and Hussey Minstrels). Although the shows were reportedly well-attended, the four principals became insolvent by the time they opened in Sydney (26 Feb.) – as Hussey, Kelly and Holly Minstrels. After disbanding on 16 April, Hussey, Kelly and Holly opened three nights later with the Excelsior Minstrels. Frank Weston later co-founded Weston and La Feuillade’s Minstrels [below].

Performers engaged incl. Frank Weston (also manager), Frank Hussey (also stage manager), Nicholas La Feuillade (also music director), Harry Kelly, Charles Holly, J.A. Herman, T. Campbell, Thomas Rainford, Henri Ackland, J. Stewart, Max Maretzic, D. Warren, G. Fitch, W. Harrison, T.J. (Tommy) Peel, N. Reeves, Mr Cullimore, Tom Buckley, H. Reynolds, J. Hart, Edwin Amery, Barry O’Neil, N. Reeves, H. Luder, A. Wallace, O. Blake, and lance Keen (later Lance Lenton).

˚˚˚

WESTON & LA FEUILLADE’S MINSTRELS

(1870-1871) Formed in Melbourne a few months after Frank Weston had ended his association with Hussey, Kelly and Holly Minstrels (formerly Weston and Hussey Minstrels [above]), Weston and La Feuillade’s Minstrels made its debut at Weston’s Opera House (aka St George’s Hall) on 18 June. After the season ended in early August the troupe undertook a tour of regional Victoria and South Australia (ca. Sept. to mid-Nov.). Weston and La Feuillade’s movements are then unaccounted for until March the following year when their company opened at Melbourne’s Haymarket Theatre in conjunction with Harry Kelly’s Excelsior Minstrels. When Weston and La Feuillade ended their partnership in early June the company disbanded.

1870: Personnel incl. Nicholas La Fueillade, J. Buckley, Harry Blanchard, H. Sandford, James Wilson, J. Smith, Harry Holmes, Frank Weston, Herman Luder, George Brenner, M. Paul de Grey, D.W. Warren, J.A. Herman, Carl Leisser, H. Weizel, Charles Stoepel, Herr Graffula, Master L. Weston, and Helehanty, Hengler, Bloodgood and Buckworth.
1871: Personnel incl. Johnny Cowan, Tom Buckley, Charles Holly, Johnny Burgess, Frank Weston, Arthur Romer, Henry Holmes, L. Montague, Leon Charles, Charles Lester, Elser Butler, Nicholas La Feuillade, J. Stuart Smith, Alf Peters, J. Richardson, J.A. Herman, Harcourt Lee, Z. Talbera, Mr Flexmore, Sallie Lloyd, Humphries, Donaldson and Horn (dancers), Blanche Clifton (Mrs Frank Hussey).

˚˚˚

WHO’S WHO COSTUME REVUE ENTERTAINERS

(1921) The Who’s Who Costume Revue company was formed in 1921 for a six-week engagement at the Lyric Theatre, St Kilda (Melbourne) under the management of William Anderson. The season, which commenced on 15 October and ran through until 26 November, saw most of the company appear in a first part vaudeville programme then come together as an ensemble in the second half revusical. For these Le Blanc revived the most popular revusicals presented by his previous troupe, the Travesty Stars namely Fuzzy Wuzzy, The Gay Mrs Cohen, In Old Seville (1915), Then They Woke Up, and What’s the Use (1917) He also presented a new show, High Life on Deck (1921).

1:  In addition to le Blanc and Mack the troupe also featured Le Blanc’s wife, Winnie Knight, Syd Hollister, Ted Stanley and Dan Weldon.
2: After completing the St Kilda season Le Blanc and co-star Jake Mack disbanded the company and briefly returned to the USA. The following year they reformed the Travesty Stars.

˚˚˚

WILD AUSTRALIA

aka Meston’s Wild Australia

Meston's Wild Australia [BC 5 Dec 1892, 2]Newspaper editor, politician, writer, explorer, and amateur ethnologist Archibald Meston had a life-long interest in Australia’s indigenous people. In late 1891 his Brisbane lecture, “The Manner and Customs of the Blacks” was accompanied by live performances from members of a Morton Bay tribe. He later conceived Wild Australia, a variety-style show comprising lectures, Aboriginal customs, songs, dances, exhibitions of warfare and everyday indigenous life. The company of 32 performers opened in Brisbane in December 1892, then played Sydney and Melbourne before Meston ran into financial difficulties. A planned overseas tour never eventuated.

˚˚˚

WILLIAM ANDERSON’S LONDON VAUDEVILLE STARS

aka William Anderson’s All-Star Vaudeville Co

Willliam Anderson's London Vaudeville Stars [NMH 30 Apr 1910, 8](1910) With its line-up largely recruited by William Anderson from the Melbourne cast of his enormously successful 1909/1910 pantomime Babes in the Wood, the London Vaudeville Stars played selected engagements in New South Wales beginning ca. late-April or early May 1910 (established centres included Newcastle, Sydney, Goulburn, Cootamundra and Albury) before travelling to Victoria. The company’s only know engagement in that state was a three night season in Geelong beginning 10 June). Tour manager was Michael Joseph, and the scenic arts was provided by Rege Robins.

The line-up featured: Nat Clifford, Foreman and Fannon, Lillian Lea, James Hughes, Dorothy Leigh, Devinia Clinton, Martyn Hagan, Lucy Fraser, Jack Hagan, Hellier and Walhalla (acrobats), Marshall Palmer, Claude Solomon, Duveen, Bertha Gordon, and the Lenton Trio.
Image source: Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW) 30 Apr. 1910, 8.

˚˚˚

WILL’S SURPRISE PARTY

(1892-1893) Will’s Surprise Party was put together by Will F. Wallace for a tour of New Zealand beginning September 1892. The company reportedly came together for a pre-tour tryout in Ballarat in late July, and played brief seasons in Hobart and Launceston in mid to late-August. Among the 25 artists and musicians engaged were some of the Australasian region’s best known minstrel performers- notably Priscilla Verne, Dave Gardiner, George A. Jones, Ettie Williams, and Steve Adson. Harold Ashton was engaged as tour manager/advance agent (Tasmania), with Walter Price the Dominion advance agent. The company remained in New Zealand until late-January 1893, playing all four major cities as well as smaller towns.

1: Other members known to have appeared with the company were: Lily Octavia, Mons. Provo, Lily Warren, Blanche Montague, Mina Nimmo, J.R. Wadley, H. Townley. W. Dudley.
2: The New Zealand tour included (in no particular order): Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Wellington, Timaru, Ashburton, Fielding, Wanganui and Oamaru.

˚˚˚

WORLD’S ANIMATOGRAPH Co

aka World’s Animatograph & All-Star Operatic Concert & Comedy Co

(1906) Established by Harry Alexander in mid-1906 for a tour of the New South Wales Northern Rivers region, the World’s Animatograph Company made its debut in Taree on 2 August 1906. Headed by Ethel Alexandra Tanner, the troupe comprised both concert artists and society entertainers, these being De Courcey Branson (basso) and Mansfield Stead (baritone), and singers/comedians Olive Becke and Fraser Shaw. The moving pictures included the aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake, and the wedding of the king of Spain as well as a depiction of his attempted murder. Towns visited included Wingham, Port Macquarie, Grafton, Kempsey, Bellingen, and Lismore. The troupe’s last known season was in Casino in early September.

1: The company was reportedly en route to Brisbane. No record of any Queensland engagements have yet been located, however.
2: Although little is known about Harry Alexander, he is recorded as being well-known to the Grafton community.
3: It is unclear what relationship, if any, this company had with the George Wheeler’s World’s Entertainers & Animatograph Co which toured parts of regional Victoria in late 19-5 and early 1906. One possibility is that Alexander acquired or leased the Animatograph from Wheeler in order to mount his venture [see below].

˚˚˚

WORLD’S ENTERTAINERS [1] See International Tourists section

˚˚˚

WORLD’S ENTERTAINERS [2]

(1903) Possibly an amateur variety company based out of Gawler, South Australia, its recorded as having appeared in Lyndoch in July 1903 and Eudunda during the towns Agricultural Show (Oct.). Among the performers identified were Prof. Berkely (magician/mind-reader), F. Paynter and H. Dawson (singers), T.C. Howard (recitations), and Miss Osborne (accompanist).

˚˚˚

WORLD’S ENTERTAINERS [3]

aka World’s Gaiety Entertainers

(1904) Little is currently known about this company. Although it appears to have been active in Hobart and nearby centres during the second half of 1904. A par in the Mercury newspaper indicates that the troupe hailed from the mainland and was assisted by “some local talent” (3 Sept. 1904, 8), but no performers have yet been identified. The first recorded engagements were at Glenorchy and Franklin in late August and Port Cygnet in early September. Advertisements refer to the company as either World’s Entertainers or World’s Gaiety Entertainers. Later performances included a benefit at Hobart’s Bellerive Institute (20 Sept.) and St Peter’s Hall (13 Oct.).

˚˚˚

WORLD’S ENTERTAINERS [4]

aka Frank Reis’s World’s Entertainers

(1914-1915) Operating for approximately 18 months between early 1914 and mid-1915, the Worlds Entertainers featured its founder, Frank Reis, his wife Ina Alston and brother, Roland. Although essentially a musical comedy company, the troupe also presented an array of vaudeville items and farces. Reis disbanded the company prior to taking up an acting engagement with George Marlow in September 1915.

˚˚˚

WORLDS/WORLD’S ENTERTAINERS: A number of other companies used the term “World’s” or “World’s Entertainers” in the Australasian and Asian region during the early 1900s. Those identified to date are:
• World’s Entertainers (ca. 1902): A vocal and instrumental company that reportedly toured Western Australia and New South Wales presenting a largely classical repertoire. Among the performers were Herr Gustav Albrecht (pianist), Fred Gardner (trombone/double bass), Signor Gardini (violin), Ernest von Grodno (baritone), and Alfonso de Carlos (Spanish mandolin). Not to be included in the AVTA.
Hill’s World Entertainers (ca. 1903/1904)
Sudholz’s Bio-Tableau & World’s Entertainers (see above)
Worlds Entertainers & Animatograph Co (see below)
World’s Star Entertainers (see below)
World’s Vaudeville Co (see below)
Godfrey & Co’s American Kinetoscope & World’s Entertainers (ca. 1904/1905) Possibly only active in New Zealand this company featured George Wilson (“New Zealand’s Greatest Ventriloquist”), Edgar Phillips, Daisy Childe and Corelli, “Prince of Mystery.”
• A par in the Wagga Wagga Express (5 July 1905, 4) records that Tom Mann’s World’s Entertainers had recently disbanded. No further details relating to this company have yet been located.

˚˚˚

WORLD’S ENTERTAINERS & ANIMATOGRAPH Co

(1905-06) George Wheeler introduced his variety and film company to the Melbourne public on 20 December 1905. The shows featured moving pictures from the new Century Animatograph projector (which was said to have “absolutely no vibration”), songs by the “charming” serio Miss Florence Colcutt and drawing room entertainment by Mr E.F. Ritter. The stage manager was Alf Holland and tour manager J. Davis. A “life-like representation of ‘The Life of Nelson'” was the principle film attraction. After its three nights season at the Athenaeum Hall, the company played five nights in Bendigo (Masonic Hall) prior to a tour of regional Victoria.

1: No information relating to George Wheeler has yet been located. No further details regarding the regional Victorian tour (or other destinations) are known at this stage, apart from a report which indicates Geelong as the first town to be played after Bendigo.
2: It is also unclear what relationship, if any, this company had with the World’s Animatograph Co which toured the New South Wales Northern Rivers in mid to late-1906 under the direction of Harry Alexander. One possibility is that Alexander acquired or leased the Animatograph from Wheeler in order to mount his tour [see above].

˚˚˚

WORLD’S STAR ENTERTAINERS

(1906) After finishing up his Western Australian engagements with Richards’ Entertainers in December 1905, English juggler Paul Kinko played some shows around the Kalgoorlie region with Professor Bernard and others before returning to Perth. For a few weeks from mid-February he headlined a troupe of local and interstate artists that played the city’s suburbs and outer-laying communities. Billed as the World’s Star Entertainers, the troupe is recorded as playing Cottesloe (Well’s Hall), Guildford (Vaudeville Theatre), and Victoria Park (Town Hall). Kinko re-engaged several members of the troupe (along with new artists) in late-April for a community benefit at Perth Town Hall.

The World’s Star Entertainers’ known performers were Jas. Riley (comic/singer/dancer), W. Maloney (baritone), Miss E. Meyers (balladist), Baby Brady (child artist), Bedford Sisters (serio-comics/dancers), Billy Rydington (eccentric comedian), Miss Bonnor (soprano), Miss Johnson (serio-comic), George Williams (comedia), Mons. Vestarlo (magician), W.G. Sinclair (tenor), Flo Bates (serio-comic), Rino (one-string violinist), Roland Hill (musical sketch artist).

˚˚˚

WORLD’S VAUDEVILLE Co

(1913) Fred World (World’s Vaudette Co) debuted his company at Port Adelaide’s Dale Street Vaudeville Hall on 21 June 1913, taking over the lease from Fred Bosley (Bosley Vaudeville Company). The opening line-up comprised both local and interstate performers, including the Milray Brothers (jugglers), Ted Woodward (club swinger), Fred Deggert, Koch Treloar, George Rox, Ned Vincent and George Elliott (comedians), Nellie Rowe (serio-comedienne), Maisie Newton (soprano), W.A. Fischwer (tenor), the Chard Sisters (dancers), and Daisy Chard (whistler). Despite reports of people being turned away from the shows World’s season at the Dale Street venue lasted only a few weeks, with Fred Bosley returning with a new company in late July.

Other performers engaged for the season included the Le Bretons (hand balancers) and Alf Locke (comedian). A wrestling match between De Brun and Moke was also staged.

˚˚˚

YE OLDE NIGGER MINSTRELS (Tivoli Celebrity Vaudeville)

aka Old Time Nigger Minstrel Show

Ye Olde Nigger MInstrels [STS 31 Jan 1926, 27](1925-1926) Renewed interest in blackface minstrelsy began to emerge in Australia in 1924 (albeit largely through amateur revivals), and on October 13 the following year it was included in Maggie Moore’s Testimonial (His Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne). Starring veterans Will Whitburn and Charlie Pope the entertainment proved so popular that J.C. Williamson’s decided to revive the minstrel format as part of Tivoli Celebrity Vaudeville operations. The first show was presented at the Melbourne Tivoli on 7 December with a company featuring Whitburn and Pope. The show transferred to Sydney (1 Feb. – 7 Mar.) followed by a return to Melbourne (16-20 Mar.) and Adelaide later in the year (4-14 Sept.).

1: The show was originally set to open on 16 November but was postponed when Will Whitburn fell ill.
2: The opening line-up also included: Andrew Higginson (Mr Interlocutor), Katrina and Joan (dancers), Dorothy Browne (instrumentalist), Alton Sisters (wire walkers), Peel and Curtis (comedians), Walter Nilsson (unicyclist), and the Minstrel Jazz Band (under the direction of Will Quintrell). Among the later engagements were Ella Shields, Reginald Roberts and Billy Maloney, The Astleys, La Flores, The Big Four, The Flemings, and Donald Stuart.
Image source: Sunday Times (Sydney) 31 Jan. 1926, 27.

__________

Image citation details for entries without expanded biographies are noted at the bottom of the overview. All other image details are provided in the expanded PDF biographies.
For information concerning copyright issues see “Copyright” attachment in the AVTA “About” page.

Pages: 1 2

Published on April 15, 2011 at 9:48 pm  Comments Off on Troupes [S-Z]