PE0202. To-Night’s the Night (Paul Rubens & Jerome Kern), w.George Grossmith, Henri Leoni, Leslie Henson, Julia James, Haidee de Rance, etc., from Original 1915 Cast recording. (England) Palaeophonics 103. Excellent transfers from these 1915 recordings, w.Elaborate ‘The Play’ 20pp. Brochure replete w.photos from the London production.
“TO-NIGHT'S THE NIGHT is a musical comedy composed by Paul Rubens, with lyrics by Percy Greenbank and Rubens, and a book adapted by Fred Thompson. Two songs were composed by Jerome Kern. The story is based on the farce LES DOMINOS ROSES (Pink Dominoes). The musical was produced by George Grossmith, Jr. and Edward Laurillard. It opened at the Shubert Theatre in New York on 24 December, 1914. It then was produced at the Gaiety Theatre in London, opening on 18 April, 1915 and running for a very successful 460 performances. Grossmith starred in the piece with Leslie Henson. Grossmith told The New York Times that the musical was the first Gaiety Theatre Company production presented in New York before opening in London.
Paul Alfred Rubens was an English songwriter and librettist who wrote some of the most popular Edwardian musical comedies of the early twentieth century. He co-wrote a burlesque, GREAT CAESAR (1899, with George Grossmith, Jr.), which was produced on the West End. In 1899, he wrote songs for L'AMOUR MOUILLÉ and the international hit, FLORODORA (1899) which brought him wider fame. Edwardes quickly hired Rubens as an ‘additional material’ writer, and Rubens supplied some of the most successful numbers in THE MESSENGER BOY in 1900.
During this period, Rubens also wrote incidental music for the 1901 production of TWELFTH NIGHT at His Majesty's Theatre. He also wrote songs for THE MEDAL AND THE MAID (1902) and THE SCHOOL GIRL (1903). Edwardes gave Rubens the opportunity to write the book, lyrics and some of the music for THREE LITTLE MAIDS (1902), which had London and international success; LADY MADCAP (1904); and MR. POPPLE OF IPPLETON (1905), a more sophisticated piece than many of Rubens' earlier musical comedies, which was later produced in America as NOBODY HOME, with songs by Jerome Kern.
Frank Curzon then hired Rubens to write both the words and songs for musicals starring his wife, Isabel Jay (who had already starred in two of Rubens' shows), at the Prince of Wales Theatre, with exotic sets, elaborate costumes and a host of beautiful chorus girls. The first was MISS HOOK OF HOLLAND in 1907, which turned out to be Rubens' most enduring success. Because of the progression of the consumptive illness from which he suffered most of his life, he needed the assistance of the director, Austen Hurgon, to finish the libretto. Rubens and Hurgon next wrote the disappointing MY MIMOSA MAID (1908) and the somewhat more successful DEAR LITTLE DENMARK (1909).
After writing songs that made their way into several Broadway shows, Rubens supplied songs for a number of mostly successful later shows, beginning with Curzon's THE BALKAN PRINCESS in 1910. He then returned to Edwardes' theatres, where the departure of Ivan Caryll gave him the chance to write the songs for THE SUNSHINE GIRL in 1912, THE GIRL FROM UTAH in 1913, AFTER THE GIRL in 1914, TINA AND BETTY, both in 1915, and THE HAPPY DAY in 1916. His best and most popular work from these years, however, is heard in his melodies and lyrics for TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT (1914). After the outbreak of the First World War, Rubens wrote a successful recruiting song called ‘Your King and Country Need You’. Vesta Tilley often performed the song. Rubens' songs continued to be used at least into the 1920s. ‘The Gondola and the Girl’ was part of the score of Irene Bordoni's 1924 production, LITTLE MISS BLUEBEARD.
Rubens met actress Phyllis Dare when she was cast in THE SUNSHINE GIRL, and he wrote a number of songs for her. They began a relationship and ultimately became engaged, but Rubens who had suffered severe ill-health through virtually his whole career, became too sick to marry, and so the couple separated.
Leslie Lincoln Henson was an English comedian, actor, producer for films and theatre, and film director. He initially worked in silent films and Edwardian musical comedy and became a popular music hall comedian who enjoyed a long stage career. He was famous for his bulging eyes, malleable face and raspy voice. Henson became interested in the theatre from an early age, writing and producing theatrical pieces while at school. He studied with the Cairns–James School of Musical and Dramatic Art as a child, making his professional stage début at the age of 19. His first West End role was in NICELY, THANKS! (1912) and he later starred in several hit West End Edwardian musical comedies, including TO-NIGHT'S THE NIGHT (1915) and YES, UNCLE! (1917). After briefly serving with the Royal Flying Corps, he was released from active service by the British government to help run a concert party called THE GAIETIES, which provided entertainment for the troops during World War I. After the war, he returned to the West End, playing in KISSING TIME (1919) and a series of musical comedies and farces throughout the 1920s and 1930s.”
-Zillah Dorset Akron
“A gentleman farmer with a love of Edwardian and early Twentieth Century music has created a home industry of preserving early Musical and Revue scores as recorded on 78 and cylinder, the latter of which he is certainly a specialist. It is an impressive list of shows that Dominic Combe has digitalised and issued on Compact Disc. Not only is it the recordings but the lovingly created books that attach.
Early theatre recordings abound in Great Britain, more so than in the United States where it took them some time to start recording original cast material. And so, many early scores are available to be heard. But what Dominic discovered when he started assembling these scores was that often latter day British 78 and cylinder record collectors turned their noses up on recordings of dance music or covers and ‘best of’ or ‘gems’ making them hard to find. And, it is those recordings which can often contain songs not otherwise recorded. He has built strong connections with other collectors willing to lend material to make each issue as complete as possible.
Modern equipment and an aptitude for perfection have helped Dominic ‘clean up’ old 78 and cylinder records to deliver a sound quality that can be stunning. The booklets are produced with as much care by using original theatre programmes or magazines such as PLAY PICTORIAL and MUSIC FOR ALL so that the listener can get a good idea of how the show looked as well as to see the unique art work used to advertise the show back then.
Dominic has issued over fifty of these gems and still has titles either being completed or awaiting to be started on. The label is called PALAEOPHONICS.”
- y phayward, OVERTURES: The Bunnet-Muir Musical Theatre Archive Trust, 10 July, 2017