PE0280. HIGH JINKS (Rudolf Friml & Otto Harbach), recorded 1916, w.Howard Talbot Cond. Adelphi Theatre Ensemble; Maisie Gay, William H. Berry, Peter Gawthorne, Nellie Taylor, Marie Blanche & Violet Blythe. [The book was a collaboration between Harbach and Leo Ditrichstein, based on the latter's play, 'Before and After', itself an adaptation of a French comedy 'Les Dragées d'Hercule' by Maurice Hannequin and Paul Bilhaud); Opened at New York's Lyric Theatre, 10 December, 1913, moving to the Casino Theatre 12 January, 1914, ultimately to London, 24 Aug., 1916, running for 383 performances]; additional material by Ada Jones ('All aboard for Dixie Land' [an Edison blue Amberol cylinder] & Cito's Club Coon Orchestra. (England) Palaeophonics 142, w.Elaborate ‘The Play’ 20pp. Brochure replete with numerous photos of the Adelphi Theatre 1916 production & biographies. Excellently transferred from the legendary Acoustic 78rpm HMV rarities.
“Maud Daisy Noble was born in 1878 (though many sources give 1883), in Willesden, London, and died there in 1945. Maisie Gay first appeared on stage in 1903, as a chorus girl. She soon rose to more prominent roles, and from 1904 to 1907 she played the lead in a musical, A COUNTRY GIRL, by J. T. Tanner. She made her West End début in A WALTZ KING in 1908, and followed that with a role in THE GIRLS OF GOTTENBERG by George Grossmith. After a successful run in J. T. Tanner's OUR MISS GIBBS, Maisie Gay toured the United States in another Tanner show, THE QUAKER GIRL. She returned to London to appear in a fourth show by Tanner, THE GIRL ON THE FILM, in 1913. Gay remained very active on the stage in both London and New York, in musicals and revues, during World War I, especially in a US tour of Arthur Hammerstein's HIGH JINKS in 1914 and 1915. She was often in works by Noel Coward, including LONDON CALLING! (1923, produced by Andre Charlot), and THIS YEAR OF GRACE (1928–1929, on a tour of Australia.
LONDON CALLING! was Noel Coward's first hit, famous for opening with a 3-D stereoscopic shadowgraph, which required the audience to wear special colour-tinted glasses. The show was a satirical revue of the pretensions of upper class London society in the 1920s with 25 sketches, skits, songs and dance routines. It was hugely popular running for 367 performances. Maisie sang four songs including ‘There’s Life In The Old Girl Yet’, which became her signature tune. She also went to Hollywood and she appeared in a number of films, a silent movie THE SIREN’S SONG (1915) and small parts in THE SHAMING OF THE TRUE (1930), TO OBLIGE A LADY (1931), and THE OLD MAN (1931). She retired from stage and screen in 1934.”
- Box People and Places, Spring, 2017
“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, born in London, was apprenticed at the the age of 14 to the theatre booking-agency Keith, Prowse and Co., through which he had access to free seats for West End plays and musical shows. He became fascinated with the theatre, and got a job as assistant business manager to the actor-manager Wilson Barrett at the old Globe Theatre. In 1898, Barrett gave up the Globe, and left England to tour Australia, leaving Berry unemployed. He took a job in a factory, where his colleagues found him so entertaining that he was quickly in demand at local dinners and concerts, and was able to give up the factory job.
Berry developed his professional skills performing as a concert artist in the winter and a pierrot with seaside concert parties in the summer. At one of his concert engagements George Grossmith Jr. and Ivan Caryll saw him and were impressed enough to invite Berry and his wife to join the cast of a forthcoming musical comedy to be presented by George Edwardes. Berry appeared with Lily Elsie in THE MERRY WIDOW, in 1907; his burlesque dance with Gabrielle Ray was one of the hits of the show.
After this, Berry was seen in a string of shows including HAVANA (1908), A WALTZ DREAM (1908), THE DOLLAR PRINCESS (1909), THE COUNT OF LUXEMBOURG (1911), GIPSY LOVE (1912), HIGH JINKS (1916), and his greatest success, THE BOY (1917), in which he played Mr. Meebles, the respectable magistrate who finds himself at the centre of farcical uproar. In 1920, he starred in THE NAUGHTY PRINCESS and as Dipper Twigg in THE GOLDEN MOTH at the Adelphi Theatre, London. He played Christian Velt in LILAC TIME in several revivals in the 1920s and 1930s. He appeared in PRINCESS CHARMING in 1926.”
“Peter Gawthorne was an Anglo-Irish actor, probably best known for his roles in Will Hay films. Gawthorne was one of Britain's most called-upon bit part actors during the 1940s and 1950s. He was born in 1884 in Queen's County in Ireland, but spent most of his career in England. After two years at the Academy of Dramatic Art, Gawthorne began a career on the London stage, eventually running up over twenty years experience on the stage. His début was in 1906, a walking on part at His Majesty's Theatre, London. He was featured in the role of Albany Pope, receiving good notices, in the hit musical THE BOY in 1917.
He worked for a number of companies but, in particular, Gainsborough Studios. He also toured Australia, South Africa and Americas, going into films in America before returning to Britain. Gawthorne also studied singing. He worked extensively in cinema often playing military officers and stern, authority figures, many of whom frequently clashed with the bumbling idiots played by Will Hay and other well-known comedians such as George Formby, The Crazy Gang, Jessie Matthews, Jack Hulbert, Alastair Sim and Arthur Askey and Richard Murdoch. He also worked with a number of famous straight actors including George Arliss, Errol Flynn and Leslie Banks.”
“In his twenties, Rudolf Friml took a position as accompanist to the violinist Jan Kubelík. He toured with Kubelik twice in the United States (1901–02 and 1904) and moved there permanently in 1906, apparently with the support of the Czech singer Emmy Destinn.
After his tour with Kubelik, he toured America solo. His first post in New York was as a repetiteur at the Metropolitan Opera. He made his American piano début at Carnegie Hall in 1904, with the New York Symphony Orchestra and conductor Walter Damrosch, to whom he announced he would perform his Piano Concerto in B. This was a complete surprise as nobody knew that such a piece of music even existed, including Friml himself!
A mere week before the concert, he wrote the arrangements for orchestra and as far as his own piano part – he improvised. This bold move lent itself to his flying start on Broadway.
Soon after his last American tour in 1906, Friml moved to New York City where he began contributing his compositions to various stage productions. His first work was actually as a ballet accompanist at the Metropolitan Opera. He was referred to as 'the greatest improvisateur since Mozart', but in his compositions, he focused on operetta, one of the most popular theatrical forms in the early decades of the 20th century in America."
- Kytka, Très Bohèmes, 21 March, 2017
“American pop and Broadway lyricist-librettist Otto Harbach was in songwriting teams with Karl Hoschna, Rudolf Friml, and, most successfully, with Oscar Hammerstein II. Born in Salt Lake City, in 1873, Harbach studied at the Collegiate Institute, then at Knox College before becoming an English professor. He was on the staff of Whitman College from 1875-1901, then moved to New York, writing for the newspapers for one year, then for an ad agency for several years. Harbach met composer Karl Hoschna and the two became a songwriting team, scoring their first hit with 1908's 'Cuddle Up a Little Closer', from their score for Broadway's THE THREE TWINS. The duo collaborated on more successful shows - including BRIGHT EYES and MADAME SHERRY (1910) - until Hoschna's death in December 1911. After Hoschna was gone, Harbach began working with composer Rudolf Friml. In 1917, he shortened his name from Hauerbach to Harbach to avoid anti-German sentiment caused by World War II. In 1920, Harbach teamed up with another lyricist-librettist, Oscar Hammerstein II, for the most successful period of Harbach's career. Some of Harbach's best-known songs are ‘Every Little Movement’ (1910), ‘Sympathy’ (1912), ‘The Love Nest’ (1920), ‘Rose-Marie’ (1924), ‘The Desert Song’ (1926), ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’, and ‘Yesterdays’ (1933). Some of the hit musicals he wrote for include HIGH JINKS (1913), NO, NO, NANETTE (1925), THE CAT AND THE FIDDLE (1932), and ROBERTA (1933). Besides his three main collaborators, Harbach also wrote with many others over the years, including Herbert Stothart, Vincent Youmans, George Gershwin, Sigmund Romberg, and Jerome Kern. He was vice president of ASCAP from the mid-'30s until 1940, and president for a few years in the early '50s. Many of the musicals that Harbach worked on were later turned into movies. He was later inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame.”
- Joslyn Layne, allmusic.com
“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