Troupes [S-Z]

Sam Dearin’s Minstrels to Swastika Players ……. p.1
Stanley McKay’s No 1 Pantomime Co to Tubby Stevens’ Tit-bits Revue Co ……. p.2
U.S. Minstrels to Ye Olde Nigger Minstrels (Tivoli Celebrity Vaudeville) ……. p.3



aka United States Minstrels [1]

(1875-1879) The first and arguably the most significant Australian-based troupe to be known as the U.S. Minstrels was formed in Melbourne in early-1875 by G.W. Rockefeller, Charles Holly, Thomas Campbell, Tom Buckley (all former members of Emerson’s California Minstrels). The initial line-up also featured J.T. Mavor (ex-California Minstrels), Thomas Hudson, R.W. Carey and T. Wilkins. They debuted in regional Victoria (Ballarat, Ararat and Stawell) before undertaking a 16 weeks season in Melbourne. Thereafter followed four years of activity that saw the troupe tour extensively around the eastern and southern states, playing capitals cities, major centres and the regional smalls. During that time the core line-up mostly comprised Rockefeller, Hudson, Holly, Campbell, along with Louis Braham and Edwin Amery. Other artists joined as short-term members, while some appeared briefly as “special guests.”

  • Research notes PDF coming soon
1. Among the artists to secure work with the U.S. Minstrels were: Horace Bent, R.W. (Dick) Kohler, Nicholas La Feuillade (music director/musician), Owen Conduit (music director/musician), Thomas Rainford, Dave Gardener, and E.A. Glover.



aka Weston’s U.S. Minstrels / United States Minstrels [2]

(1879-1880) In late-October 1879, some ten months after the original U.S. Minstrels disbanded, wizard oil salesman, theatrical entrepreneur and minstrel showman Frank Weston capitalised on the troupe’s popularity by putting together a new line-up for a season at Melbourne’s Apollo Hall. Described by the Melbourne press as “a small company” doing “modest business” with their “modest invitation to the public,” the line-up appears to have comprised lesser (unidentified) regular artists who may or may not have been associated with the previous troupe, along with some ex-U.S. Minstrels. These included several performers who had by then settled in Melbourne and were largely retired – notably Louis Braham and Charles Holly. Among the others were Owen Conduit, Dave Gardner, Tom Buckley, Walter Hawkins and T. Burgin. The season ended abruptly three days into the New Year.

1. Other performers to appear with the troupe included: Sig. Gagliardi, A.G. Thomas, W. Chatley, J. Brown, Charles Jewett, Frank Weston, Walter Hawkins, George Gardner, and J.S. Whitworth. Sig. Gagliardi’s orchestra was also engaged. Frank Weston is recorded as having filled the interlocutor role.
2. Advertising in the lead up to the premiere billed the show as “(Season 1879-80): Re-appearance of the ever welcome, most popular and complete Troupe of Sable Harmonists; the U.S. Minstrels.” The first performers to be identified in advertising were Owen Conduit and Louis Braham (29 October – for the week beginning 1 November). A feature of the week beginning 15 November was the introduction of four endmen – Dave Gardner and Chas Jewett (tambos) and Charles Holly and Tom Buckley (bones).
3. Commentary on the Apollo Hall suggests that it did good business at the start. This appears to have tapered off towards the end of the year, however. Weston’s advertising becomes noticeably less prominent by December, which likely indicates that was becoming financially unsustainable.



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.



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.



(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).



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 [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.



aka Bella Sutherland’s Vital Sparks Co / Bella Sutherland’s Musical & Specialty Co / Electric Spark Co / Prof. Gibson’s Specialty & Musical Co (1899)

Vital Sparks [WA 15 July 1892, 1](1885-1887, 1891-1893, 1896-1897, 1899, 1901, 1904-1905) Bella Sutherland first presented her Vital and Electric Sparks company in Grafton, New South Wales on 26 December 1885. Thereafter followed a tour of the Northern Rivers and a season in Sydney.  She re-continued to revive the company for specific tours until 1904/05, by which time she and her third husband, medical herbalist/science lecturer Prof. G.W Gibson had permanently settled in Brisbane. Among the principal artists associated with the troupe was Gibson, along with Priscilla Verne, Sam Rowley, Sam Keenan, the Leslie Brothers, Little Will Leslie, the Anderson Sisters, Alf Santley, Fred Dark and Prof. Leonard. Initially operating as a minstrel troupe, the Vital Sparks eventually specialised in vaudeville and film exhibition.

Max Rodway, who is recorded as a member of the company in 1889 may have been one of Sutherland’s sons (either Walter or John).
Image source: West Australian (Perth) 15 July 1892, 1.



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.



(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.



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, 6.


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



(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.



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.



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).



(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).



(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.


WHO’S WHO COSTUME COMEDY CO: See Harry Borradale’s Sparklers



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.



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.



(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.



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



(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).



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.).



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.



(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].



(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).



aka World’s Star Gaiety Minstrel and Specialty Co

(1893) In late-February 1893 Dan Tracey handed over control of Sydney’s Gaiety Theatre to his former business manager Alf M. Hazlewood. Although the new venture was rebranded the World’s Star Gaiety Company it retained many of the performers who had been featuring over the previous weeks – including W. Horace Bent, Priscilla Verne, Bertha Fanning, George A. Jones, Ettie Williams, Will Stevens, and Tudor and Friedman. In addition to the usual minstrels show format the World’s Stars presented burlesques (including Aladdin, Fra Diavolo and Lurline the Lovely) and novelties like “Jack the Fighting Kangaroo” and “The Georgia Magnet” (imported from Europe). Specialty first parts were also popular (notably “The Fairy Grotto”). The company’s final performances were presented at the Royal Standard from 29 April to 28 May.

1: Dan Tracey had been staging his Vaudeville, Minstrel and Specialty Company shows in Sydney since December 1890, initially at the School of Arts and from August 1892 at the Gaiety Theatre. The date of his departure from the second venue is presently unclear. Although his name disappears from advertising after 27 February 1893 (both as lessee and promoter) local newspapers continued to link him with the venue up until at least 6 March. There In this respect he either remained in an advisory role for a short period or the local press was unaware his departure.
2: Later stars to be engaged by Hazlewood for the World’s Stars Gaiety Company included W.H. (Billy) Warner, Slade Murray, Florrie Ford, Lucy Fraser, Kate Howarde, J.S. Whitworth, Tom Thumb, James Wilkinson, Percy Clifton, Lorrie St George, and the American dance trio Queen, Stowe and Harvey.
3: The company’s music director was T.W. Rhodes.



(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 ENGLYSHE FAYRE [1897/1898 Touring Companies]

(1897/1898) Eastern Goldfields touring company (West Australia).

George A. Jones and George R. Lawrence (proprietors of Perth’s second Ye Olde Englyshe Fayre) sent their first touring show to Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie between 2 and 16 March 1897. Reportedly comprising “30 star artists,” the feature performers were “Ouda,” James Mooney, Ida Holbein, Bob Bell, and Madge Stagpoole [see The Stagpooles]. The first part entertainment comprised “the usual minstrelsy business” and concluding farce, while the second half was devoted to the Lumiere cinematographe. A second tour of the Eastern goldfields was undertaken between 26 January and 21 February the following year. Among the artists to appear were Pope and Sayles, Ettie Williams, the Lennon Brothers, Bob Bell, and Cecilia Gilhoni, with Delohery, Craydon and Holland being one of several acts to join up during the final week.

1. The 1898 tour got off to a less than ideal start when a train accident forced the company to go ahead to Coolgardie without their costumes and properties. Some local women helped the female performers with clothing but the men had to perform in their travelling attire for the opening performance.
2. George Jones served as manager and performer on both tours.
3. The 1897 tour itinerary involved Coolgardie’s Theatre Royal and Kalgoorlie’s Miners’ Institute. The following year Jones and Lawrence booked the Royal Cremorne Theatre, Coolgardie, and Tivoli Theatre, Kalgoorlie.


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.


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