PE0252. THE PASSING SHOW(s) of 1914 & 1915 (Herman Finck, w. words by Arthur Wimpers), w. Herman Finck Cond. Mayfair Orch. & Palace Theatre Orch.; Elsie Janis, Basil Hallam, Gwendoline Brogden, Nelson Keys, Douglas Phillips and Arthur Playfair. (England) Palaeophonics 127, recorded 1914 & 1915, w.Elaborate ‘The Play’ 20pp. Brochure replete w.photos from the London production plus 20pp. facsimile of original Palace Theatre programme, with photos of the production & biographies. [This is truly an exceptional Palaeophonics production of two irrestible London musicals.]
“The first revue entitled THE PASSING SHOW was staged at the Casino Theatre, New York, in May 1894. The name was revived on Broadway for a similar production, THE PASSING SHOW of 1912 (Winter Garden, 22 July 1912). Thereafter there was a PASSING SHOW every year until 1919, and the last of the series was THE PASSING SHOW of 1921 (Winter Garden, 29 December 1920). Meanwhile in London the format was reproduced by Alfred Butt at the Palace Theatre, Cambridge Circus, where THE PASSING SHOW was produced on 20 April 1914 with Elsie Janis, a young Broadway star making her first appearance in London, Basil Hallam, Clara Beck, Gwendoline Brogden, Winifred Delavanti, Marjorie Cassidy, Jack Christy, Mildred Stokes, Florence Sweetman, Nelson Keys and Arthur Playfair.
Elsie Janis and her partner Basil Hallam were an immediate hit. They recorded their two duets from the show, ‘You’re Here and I’m Here’ and ‘I’ve Got Everything I Want But You’ in London on 4 June 1914.
THE PASSING SHOW proved so popular that Butt repeated his success the following year with THE PASSING SHOW of 1915 (Palace, 9 March 1915, with a second edition on 12 July), again starring Elsie Janis and Basil Hallam. Performing imitations of famous Americans, ‘The Sweetheart of the A.E.F.’ - Elsie Janis - first apperared on Broadway as teenager doing clever imitations of famous Americans. Her service during WW I entertaning troops on the French Front made her immortal.”
- Footlight Notes
“Scoring with 'Florrie Was a Flapper' and 'You're Here and I'm Here' (in duet with Basil Hallam), Elsie was an unqualified success in 1914's THE PASSING SHOW, with music written and conducted by Herman Finck - so much so that the principals reunited in THE PASSING SHOW of 1915. Here she paired again with Basil Hallam - now her fiancée - on 'I've Got Everything I Want but You', 'The Same Old Song', and the American 'Ballin' the Jack', with new lyrics for its English audience.
Basil Hallam was an English actor and singer best known for the character of Gilbert the Filbert in THE PASSING SHOW. He created the character of a privileged young ‘nut’, Gilbert the Filbert, for THE PASSING SHOW (1914), the original revue of that title by Herman Finck, which opened at the Palace Theatre, London, on 20 April 1914. He also recorded the song of the same name for the HMV label on 4 June 1914.
Before entering service for World War I with the Royal Flying Corps, he fell in love with Elsie Janis, with whom he had starred in THE PASSING SHOW of 1915. They set up home in Liverpool. His death in action near Calais, France, two years later is described by Rudyard Kipling in THE IRISH GUARDS IN THE GREAT WAR, Vol. 2, 1916 – ‘Salient and the Somme’.
Herman Finck was a British composer and conductor [who] began his studies training at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and established a career as the musical director at the Palace Theatre in London (from 1900 until 1920), with whose orchestra he made many virtuoso recordings. During these decades, he was also a principal conductor at the Queen's Theatre, at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and at Southport. Finck was a prolific composer throughout the 1910s and 1920s. He composed around thirty theatre shows of most types. Finck also conducted the first record album ever made (in 1909) of Tchaikovsky's ’Nutcracker’ Suite.
The Palace Theatre was famous not only for its orchestra, but also for the beautiful Palace Girls, who had many dances composed by Finck in their honour. In 1911 the Palace Girls performed a song and dance number, which was originally called ‘Tonight’, but became hugely popular as a romantic instrumental piece ‘In The Shadows’. This is the most enduring composition of Finck, largely because 'In The Shadows’ was one of the last numbers played on the Titanic and has thus made its way into several Titanic-collections.
Another popular song during the World War I was ‘Gilbert the Filbert’ (also called ‘The K-Nuts’). It was performed in THE PASSING SHOW of 1914 by the popular Basil Hallam, who became Captain B. H. Radford and was killed in 1916 when he fell to his death because his parachute failed to open.
Finck also conducted the first London stage production of SHOW BOAT, in 1928. This was the first production of SHOW BOAT to include Paul Robeson in its cast.”
- Archeophone Program Notes
“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, (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.”
- Thomas Krebs, OPERETTA RESEARCH CENTER - PALEOPHONICS - A JOURNEY TO THE DAWN OF RECORDED SOUND IN MUSICAL COMEDY, 1 July, 2020