The Street Singer    (Phyllis Dare)     (Palaeophonics 105)
Item# PE0205
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The Street Singer    (Phyllis Dare)     (Palaeophonics 105)
PE0205. THE STREET SINGER (Harold Fraser-Simson & Ivy St Heller), recorded 1924, w.Phyllis Dare, Phoebe Hodgson, Harry Welchman, A. W. Baskcomb, Julie Hartley-Milburn, etc. (England) Palaeophonics 105, w.Elaborate 17pp ‘The Play’ Brochure replete from the London production.


“THE STREET SINGER is a 1912 short silent film drama. The film was made into a successful musical in 1924 with a libretto by Frederick Lonsdale and music by Harold Fraser-Simson, starring Phyllis Dare. It played at the Lyric Theatre for 360 performances and enjoyed successful tours.

As a musician, Harold Fraser-Simson is remembered for his work in the theatre primarily as a composer of musical comedies. THE MAID OF THE MOUNTAINS made his reputation. This was staged first at the Princes Theatre, Manchester on 23 December 1916 and came to Daly's Theatre for its London run the following February, a run which was not to end until it had clocked up 1352 performances early in 1920. Although one thinks of Fraser-Simson as being responsible for the music, it is ironical that of its three big hits: (‘Love Will Find a Way’, ‘A Paradise for Two’ and ‘A Bachelor Gay’) he composed only the first.

In a sense THE MAID's success was an embarrassment as Fraser-Simson's next musical A SOUTHERN MAID first produced in Manchester in 1917 was kept waiting for its London début which was not until 1920. Rather better were THE STREET SINGER (1924) tried out in Birmingham before coming to the Lyric for a run of 360 performances and praised for its charming music.

Also in popularity beside his song settings of Milne's poems for children. There were no fewer than six volumes derived from WHEN WE WERE VERY YOUNG, the first of Milne's four classic children's books. Fraser-Simson's music so suited the poems that it came as no surprise to see these six song books followed by five songs from NOW WE ARE Six and in 1929 no fewer than seventeen HUMS OF POOH (from WINNIE THE POOH and THE HOUSE AT POOH CORNER), to make 67 Milne songs in all.

Further evidence of the composer's gift for setting ‘children's poems’ came with his TEDDY BEAR AND OTHER SONGS, fourteen of them in all and eight songs from ALICE IN WONDERLAND which were published in 1932. These ‘mini-songs’ all sold well and many were recorded in the 1930s.”

- P. L. Scowcroft

“In 1909, Dare created the role of Eileen Cavanagh in the hit musical THE ARCADIANS at the Original Shaftesbury Theatre. This was an extraordinarily long-running musical, playing for 809 performances, and Dare stayed for the entire run. The musical marked the beginning of Dare's association with producer George Edwardes, and she went on to star in several more of his productions in the next three years, including THE GIRL IN THE TRAIN at the Vaudeville Theatre (1910, as Gonda van der Loo), PEGGY at the Gaiety Theatre (1911, as Peggy), THE QUAKER GIRL IN PARIS (1911, as Prudence) and THE SUNSHINE GIRL at the Gaiety and then on tour (1912-13, as Delia Dale). She left THE SUNSHINE GIRL in 1913 to join the cast of THE DANCING MISTRESS, as Nancy Joyce, at the Adelphi Theatre.

Dare performed on stage rarely for the next few years, appearing in HANKY-PANKY at the Empire Theatre in 1917. She returned to the stage in 1919 as Lucienne Touquet in KISSING TIME at the Winter Garden and then played Princess Badr-al-budur in ALADDIN in 1920 at the Hippodrome, London. She continued to star in successful productions throughout the 1920s, including as Mariana in THE LADY OF THE ROSE at Daly's Theatre (1922), as Yvette in THE STREET SINGER (1924; 360 performances at the Lyric Theatre and on tour), and as Fay Blake in Rogers and Hart's LIDO LADY at the Gaiety Theatre (1926), in which she introduced the song ‘Atlantic Blues’. She then turned to straight plays. Some of these included AREN'T WE ALL (1929) WORDS AND MUSIC (1932), and THE FUGITIVES (1936). Dare also appeared in a few films including THE ARGENTINE TANGO AND OTHER DANCES (1913), DR. WAKE'S PATIENT (1916), THE COMMON LAW (1923), CRIME ON THE HILL (1933), DEBT OF HONOUR (1936), MARIGOLD (1938) and GILDERSLEEVE ON BROADWAY (1943).

In 1940, for the first time in over four decades, Zena and Phyllis Dare shared the stage, in a tour of FULL HOUSE, in which Dare played Lola Leadenhall. In 1941-42, she was Juliet Maddock in OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES, and in 1946 she played the Marchioness of Mereston in LADY FREDERICK at the Savoy Theatre. In 1949, Dare opened as Marta the mistress in Ivor Novello's musical, KING'S RHAPSODY, again with her sister Zena. The show ran for two years and was Dare's last theatrical endeavour.”

- Z. D. Akron

“If you are interested in what original audiences of early 20th century English operetta and musical comedy heard, there is a great source for such recordings – the record label Paleophonics. Dominic Combe prepares CDs for them from his huge collection of shellacs and a few cylinders.

I came across these somewhat hard-to-find CDs on the website of the mail-order company NORBECK, PETERS AND FORD, ( which is specialized in historical performances from the beginning of recorded sound all the way through to the 1960s.

There are now over fifty Paleophonics CDs, and more are being prepared or scheduled for future release. Each CD comes with a lavishly illustrated program booklet with reviews, information about the shows and fantastic publicity photographs, and artwork from the original London productions, in the form of reproductions of the magazine PLAY PICTORIAL.”