PE0362. SOME (MORE) SAMPLES OF ODDS AND ENDS, ‘A REVUE’ (which, as its title suggests, is of a more scrappy order than usual). (Harry Grattan & James W. Tate), Opened 9 June, 1916, running for 273 performances, w.Lee White, Clay Smith, Gene Gerard, Rebla, Barrington, Moxon & Billie Carleton. (England) Palaeophonics 154, w.Elaborate 'The Play' 16pp. Brochure. Excellently transferred from the legendary 78rpm English Columbia 1916 rarities. Dominic Combe's enchanting delight, produced via his enhanced equipment! Again, for this production he had access to fabulous archival material and superb original 78s with which to work! [Among Dominic Combe's most delightfully charming releases!]
"Opening at the end of June 1916 at the Vaudeville, SOME (MORE) SAMPLES OF ODDS AND ENDS was probably better than SAMPLES in one respect, since the developing Charlot ‘company’, no longer busy at the Alhambra, was wholly available. This meant White and Lillie, the American dancer Clay Smith, the versatile Gene Gerrard, the almost-promising Carleton (‘If only her singing and speaking voice were a little stronger I could see a very brilliant future for Miss Carleton in musical comedy....She has cleverness, temperament and charm’ - so said THE TATLER, according to Kohn. And a juggler called Rebla. Somehow working a juggler into the continuity of a revue - he even played a speaking part - is helpful in understanding Charlot's ‘method’. Almost two decades later, critics were still remarking on how a Charlot show resembled a party attended by old friends who knew each other well and understood that their host would give them genuine, unstressful pleasure. Among the surprises were a 10-year-old (‘who can act in three languages’) and a new and already unpredictable member of the chorus, Gertrude Lawrence.
These plays, their production histories, and contemporary responses to them, offer a unique and hitherto unexplored insight into contemporary experiences of, and attitudes towards the war. Between the end of August 1914 and the end of December 1918, 2,996 new plays were written and licensed for performance. Over a quarter of these dealt directly with the war. Most however have been long forgotten and are only available as manuscripts at the British Library, searchable solely by title in a card-catalogue.”
- Dr Helen Brooks, Great War Theatre, University of Kent
"Like many other revues in 1915, André Charlot's first intimate revue copied Cochran's manner of naming: it was SAMPLES (and its sequel would be SOME (MORE) SAMPLES OF ODDS AND ENDS. Charlot also temporarily reacquired Grattan. Competition for artisans such as Grattan who knew their way around the genre was clearly intense, and it was to the eventual credit of both Charlot and Cochran that, although regularly raiding each other (and therefore inevitably increasing their otherwise skinflint payrolls) they came to command a general allegiance from their creative personnel, developing distinctive ‘companies’ and styles that derived partly from such coherence.
But SAMPLES deserves lengthy treatment because the subsequent history of British musical theatre shows that from it Charlot developed his (and the culture's) definitive brand of intimate revue. For SAMPLES, Charlot hired Grattan (now regularly styled ‘the king of revue’, very much an above-the-title presence with a significant financial claim on the profits) and brought back Gideon, carrying a caseful of his own compositions. At almost the moment of SAMPLES' opening, the comedy NO REFLECTION ON THE WIFE was taking the boards at the Liverpool Repertory Theatre. Its author was Jeans, to be shown as the inheritor of Grattan's crown and for many years the linchpin of intimate revue. With the exception of the singing and dancing comic Bert Coote, the cast of 16 (including chorus) was ordinary by the era's standards. In SAMPLES, Charlot and Grattan took a leaf from Cochran's book, making a virtue out of a shortage. This time it was the war-caused lack of youthful ‘chorus boys’, male dancers. Add a small stage and voila! boasted the first of Charlot's scaled-down choruses featuring girls who could sing, dance and take minor roles in sketches. Charlot later wrote that he generally chose his seven chorines from about 700 hopefuls. SAMPLES was an undeniable hit, and shortly transferred to the Vaudeville, a slightly larger house run by the theatre-owning restauranteur-businessmen, brothers John Maria Gatti and Rocco Gatti, under whose auspices Charlot would eventually create his most successful revues.
The sequel to SAMPLES, also by Grattan, was SOME (MORE) SAMPLES OF ODDS AND ENDS. The show has remained historically alive for various reasons. Writing 76 years later, Marek Kahn said ‘In the summer of 1916 the revue SOME (MORE) SAMPLES OF ODDS AND ENDS) afforded some West End audiences the lightest relief from the Great War. It was in the (‘intimate' style pioneered by its producer, 'From 1899 to 1905 André Charlot worked in a variety of theatrical jobs in Paris including writing news and spotting talent. In 1905 he became assistant manager of the Palais Royal and in 1908 business manager of the Folies-Bergère. In 1910 he opened a theatrical agency to supply revue and music-hall artists, principally to the Alhambra in London, of which he soon became manager. His spectacular shows from 1912 to 1914 combined elements of French and American revue for London audiences, and were highly influential. His subsequent smaller scale revues, notably at the Vaudeville, introduced performers such as Jack Buchanan, Gertrude Lawrence and Jessie Matthews, and composers such as Ivor Novello and Noel Coward. By the mid-1920s Charlot's long successful run had ended, although he did manage to take his leading stars to New York in 1924 and to start a successful radio revue for the BBC in 1928. After some film work for Alexander Korda he went bankrupt in 1931. His comeback in the mid-1930s was characterised by non-stop semi-nude revue and in 1937 he moved to southern California, where he enlisted Hollywood stars to fundraising revues for the war effort and worked both as a teacher and a compere. From 1941 he acted in over 30 Hollywood films, often uncredited. Charlot married the English dancer Florence Gladman in 1909 and they had two children. He died in Hollywood in 1956.”
- André Charlot Archive
“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