Who's Hooper? (Ivor Novello) (Marjorie Gordon, W. H. Berry, etc.)  (Palaeophonics 118)
Item# PE0230
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Who's Hooper? (Ivor Novello) (Marjorie Gordon, W. H. Berry, etc.)  (Palaeophonics 118)
PE0230. WHO'S HOOPER? (Howard Talbot & Ivor Novello), w.Howard Talbot Cond. Orig. London Cast: Madeleine Seymour, Paul Plunkett, Cicely Debenham, Fred Winn, Marjorie Gordon, Robert Michaelis & Violet Blythe; plus additional songs by Alfred Beers, Violet Loraine, W. H. Berry, Ernest Pike, etc. (England) Palaeophonics 118, recorded 1919, Complete, as Recorded, w.Elaborate 'The Play' 20pp. Brochure replete w.photos from the London production & facsimile of original brochure.


"Of Irish descent, Talbot was born in America in Yonkers, New York but moved to London at the age of four. There he studied under Sir Hubert Parry, Sir Frederick Bridge and Sir Walter Parratt. Talbot's first full professionally produced comic opera was WAPPING OLD STAIRS in 1894. The success of this production in King's Lynn led to a transfer of the show to the Vaudeville Theatre in London. At this time, Talbot earned the bulk of his living from conducting both in London and for provincial touring productions, such as THE LADY SLAVEY. Talbot's first blockbuster hit was A CHINESE HONEYMOON, which opened in Hanley in 1899 and toured extensively before it was finally presented in London in 1891. A CHINESE HONEYMOON went on to become the first work of musical theatre in history to run for over 1,000 consecutive performances and found large audiences around the world. Talbot continued to conduct at the Gaiety Theatre, Daly's Theatre and other West End theatres and went on to compose or collaborate on two dozen musicals. He commanded a technical proficiency rare among Edwardian musical theatre composers, and his music is reminiscent of Arthur Sullivan's. In addition to musicals, he produced a body of songs, piano pieces, orchestral works and a cantata.

In 1909, Talbot teamed up with Lionel Monckton to produce THE ARCADIANS, which went on to become one of the most successful Edwardian musical comedies and has been described as the masterpiece of the genre. In 1916 Talbot contributed to a reworking of an American musical, HIGH JINKS for the Adelphi Theatre, which adapted a Rudolph Friml score. At the same time, he had been composing music for short musical pieces for variety theatres. In 1917, Talbot and Monckton were hired to write the score for the musical THE BOY, based on Pinero's THE MAGISTRATE, a vehicle for American comedian Bill Berry, who had been the star of HIGH JINKS. THE BOY became one of the biggest hits of the wartime era, when audiences sought light, escapist musical comedy. It was also adapted successfully on Broadway as GOOD MORNING, JUDGE in 1919 and toured the English-speaking world. This was followed by another successful musical for Berry by Fred Thompson based on a Pinero play, composed with Ivor Novello, WHO'S HOOPER?.

Marjorie Gordon's professional stage career began in 1915 on tour in the chorus of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. The next season, she was given the roles of the Plaintiff in TRIAL BY JURY and Lady Psyche in PRINCESS IDA. She also understudied and occasionally played the title role in PATIENCE and Yum-Yum in THE MIKADO. She left D'Oyly Carte in June 1916 to understudy the role of Sylvia Dale at the Adelphi Theatre in London in the Rudolf Friml musical HIGH JINKS, sometimes appearing in the role until July 1917 and touring in the role later that year. Gordon starred in the title role in the romantic comic opera VALENTINE at the St. James Theatre from January to April 1918. She next starred as Grace in the hit musical GOING UP (1918-19) at London's Gaiety Theatre. She then appeared in the Ivor Novello musical WHO'S HOOPER? at the Adelphi Theatre (1919-20). Next, she appeared in MY NIECES at the Aldwych Theatre, London, in 1921. She also recorded songs from GOING UP and WHO'S HOOPER?. For the next two decades, she appeared in both musicals and plays. Later stage roles included Midge in TULIP TIME in 1935 at the Alhambra Theatre. Her last appearance on stage in London was in LET'S ALL GO DOWN THE STRAND at the Adelphi in 1939.

Violet Loraine went on the stage as a chorus girl at the age of sixteen. Her rise to fame came in April 1916 at the Alhambra Theatre in the musical/revue THE BING BOYS ARE HERE. She was given the leading female part, Emma, opposite George Robey playing Lucius Bing. It became one of the most popular musicals of the World War I era. Her duet with Robey 'If You Were the Only Girl (in the World)' became a 'signature song' of the era and endured as a pop standard.

William Henry Berry, always billed as W. H. Berry, was an English comic actor. After learning his craft in pierrot and concert entertainments, he was spotted by the actor-manager George Grossmith Jr., and appeared in a series of musical comedies in comic character roles. His greatest success was as Mr. Meebles, the hapless magistrate in THE BOY in 1917. Berry was a pioneer broadcaster, making radio appearances within months of the launch of the BBC. He was still broadcasting in the late 1930s. He also appeared in variety."

-Zillah Dorset Akron

gIf 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, (norpete.com) 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.h