Our Miss Gibbs  (George Grossmith, Jr., Gertie Millar)  (Palaeophonics 176)
Item# PE0365
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Our Miss Gibbs  (George Grossmith, Jr., Gertie Millar)  (Palaeophonics 176)
PE0365. OUR MISS GIBBS (Ivan Caryll and Lionel Monckton), with Gaiety Theatre Ensemble; George Grossmith, Jr., Gertie Millar (both Creators), plus William H. Berry, Thomas Franklin, Marion Jerome, Charles Handy, etc. (England) Palaeophonics 176, w.Two Elaborate ‘The Play’ 32pp. & 28pp. Brochures replete with numerous photos of the Gaiety Theatre 1909 production & biographies. Excellently transferred from the legendary Acoustic 78rpm rarities.

CRITIC REVIEWS:

“OUR MISS GIBBS is an Edwardian musical comedy in two acts by 'Cryptos' and James T. Tanner, with lyrics by Adrian Ross and Percy Greenbank, music by Ivan Caryll and Lionel Monckton. Produced by George Edwardes, it opened at the Gaiety Theatre in London on 23 January 1909 and ran for an extremely successful 636 performances. It starred Gertie Millar, Edmund Payne and George Grossmith, Jr.

The show also had a short Broadway run at the Knickerbocker Theatre, New York, 29 August, 1910 (57 performances).”

- THE GUIDE TO MUSICAL THEATRE





“Grossmith's first role in a musical was at the age of 18 in a small comic role in his father's collaboration with W. S. Gilbert, HASTE TO THE WEDDING. He next appeared in several small comic roles, including in THE BARONESS (1892). Grossmith's breakthrough came in MOROCCO BOUND (1893), where he made the most of the small role of Sir Percy Pimpleton by adding ad-libbed sight and word gags, becoming an audience favourite and establishing his style of playing ‘dude’ roles. This was followed by appearances in GO-BANG (1894 as Augustus Fitzpoop) and in George Edwardes's production of A GAIETY GIRL (1893 as Major Barclay). He also played in PICK-ME-UP at the Trafalgar Square Theatre in 1894 with Jessie Bond and Letty Lind. Edwardes then hired Grossmith to create the part of Bertie Boyd in the hit musical THE SHOP GIRL (1894). The 21-year-old actor wrote the lyrics to his character's hit song ‘Beautiful, bountiful Bertie’, which he popularised in both London and New York.

Grossmith left the musical stage for about three years, appearing in straight comedies, but he returned in 1898 to take over in the musical LITTLE MISS NOBODY and then as Mark Antony in the burlesque, GREAT CAESAR (1899), which Grossmith had written with Paul Rubens. The piece was not successful, but he wrote another (also unsuccessful piece), THE GAY PRETENDERS (1900), in which he included roles for both himself and his famous father, that played at the Globe Theatre with a cast also including John Coates, Frank Wyatt, Letty Lind and Richard Temple. Grossmith then returned to Edwardes' company as leading comedian, touring in Kitty Grey, and then starred in the Gaiety Theatre's hit THE TOREADOR (1901). Grossmith supplied some of his own lyrics but scored his biggest hit with Rubens' song ‘Everybody's Awfully Good to Me’. He then played in THE SCHOOL GIRL (1903) and subsequently toured America in the piece, but he mostly remained at the Gaiety for the next dozen years, starring in a number of hits and becoming one of the biggest stars of the Edwardian era. His roles in these hits included The Hon. Guy Scrymgeour in THE ORCHID (1903), Gustave Babori in THE SPRING CHICKEN (1905), Genie of The Lamp in THE NEW ALADDIN (1906), Otto, the prince, in THE GIRLS OF GOTTENBERG (1907), Hughie in OUR MISS GIBBS (1909), Auberon Blowand in PEGGY (1911) and Lord Bicester in THE SUNSHINE GIRL (1912). He often performed together with diminutive comic Edmund Payne.

Grossmith co-wrote the successful HAVANA (1908), while he moved to another Edwardes theatre to play Count Lothar in A WALTZ DREAM. Grossmith was given writing credits for some of the Gaiety pieces, usually adaptations from French comedies (like THE SPRING CHICKEN) or collaborations with other writers (such as THE GIRLS OF GOTTENBERG), but he wrote the libretto to PEGGY on his own. His contributions in collaborative pieces were primarily to add in jokes. He adapted THE DOLLAR PRINCESS (1909) for America (but not London) and also co-wrote some of London's earliest ‘revues’ including the ROGUES AND VAGABONDS, VENUS, OH! INDEED, Empire Theatre's HULLO (LONDON! (1910), EVERYBODY'S DOING IT, KILL THAT FLY!, EIGHT-PENCE A MILE, and NOT LIKELY. In addition to his writing and performing, he sometimes directed these musicals and revues.

In 1913, Grossmith starred in THE GIRL ON THE FILM first in London and then in New York, where he joined with Edward Laurillard, who had earlier produced his musical THE LOVE BIRDS, to produce plays and musicals. Grossmith established himself as a major producer with Laurillard, bringing POTASH AND PERLMUTTER, by Montague Glass, to London in 1914 for a long run at the Queen's Theatre. They then produced the successful TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT, based on the farce PINK DOMINOES, first at the Shubert Theatre in New York in 1914 and then moved it to the Gaiety Theatre, London in 1915. Back at the Gaiety Theatre, Grossmith wrote, produced and starred in the hit in THEODORE & CO (1916), based on a French comedy. Edwardes had died in 1915, however, and Grossmith was dissatisfied with the offer of the new management under Alfred Butt and Robert Evett, the executor of Edwardes' estate, and so he left the Gaiety and produced three successes, MR MANHATTAN, ARLETTE (1917), and YES, UNCLE! (1917) elsewhere. His OH! JOY (the British adaptation of OH, BOY!, 1917) was also successful. He also wrote the tremendously successful revue series, THE BING BOYS ARE HERE (1916), THE BING BOYS ARE THERE (1917) and THE BING BOYS ON BROADWAY (1918). Grossmith fitted his work on all these productions around his naval service in World War I.

Grossmith and Laurillard built their own theatre, the Winter Garden, on the site of an old music-hall in Drury Lane. They opened the theatre in 1919 with Grossmith and Leslie Henson starring in KISSING TIME (1919, with a star-studded cast, a book by P. G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton and music by Ivan Caryll), followed by A NIGHT OUT (1920). Grossmith and Laurillard also became managers of the Apollo Theatre in 1920 (they had produced THE ONLY GIRL there in 1916 and TILLY OF BLOOMSBURY there in 1919). But expanding their operation caused Grossmith and Laurillard to end their partnership, with Grossmith retaining control of the Winter Garden. Grossmith partnered with Edwardes' former associate, Pat Malone, to produce a series of mostly adaptations of imported shows at the Winter Garden between 1920 and 1926: SALLY (1921), THE CABARET GIRL (1922, with book by Wodehouse and music by Jerome Kern), THE BEAUTY PRIZE (1923, with Wodehouse and Kern), a revival of TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT (1923), PRIMROSE (1924, with music by George Gershwin), TELL ME MORE (1925, with words by Thompson and music by George Gershwin) and KID BOOTS (1926 with music by Harry Tierney), many of them featuring Leslie Henson. Grossmith co-wrote some of the Winter Garden pieces, directed many of his own productions and starred in several, notably as Otis in SALLY. Several of the later productions lost money, and Grossmith and Malone ended the partnership.

Grossmith also co-produced Oscar Asche's conception of EASTWARD HO! (1919), BABY BUNTING (both in 1919) and FAUST ON TOAST (1921) at other theatres during this period. At the same time, in the early 1920s, while appearing less frequently in his own Winter Garden shows, he continued to appear in other producers' shows, including THE NAUGHTY PRINCESS (1920) and as Billy Early in Joe Waller and Herbert Clayton's original hit British production of NO, NO, NANETTE (1925). Around this time, Grossmith also worked as a programme advisor to the BBC, particular involved in comedy programming. He also negotiated on behalf of the BBC with theatre managers over their boycott on songs from plays, when provincial theatre managers had threatened to cancel tour contracts if excerpts from the new plays had already been broadcast by the BBC.

After 1926, Grossmith stopped producing, but he continued to perform, playing King Christian in Albert Szirmai's PRINCESS CHARMING (1926) for producer Robert Courtneidge in New York, and Britain in THE FIVE O'CLOCK GIRL and LADY MARY (1928). In New York in 1930, and later in London (where it flopped), he starred in Ralph Benatzky's MY SISTER AND I (aka MEET MY SISTER). He also appeared in at least ten films for London Film Productions Ltd. in the 1930s. In 1930, he appeared in a 20th Century Fox film, ARE YOU THERE?

In 1931-1932, Grossmith was appointed managing director of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, producing THE LAND OF SMILES and CAVALCADE, but he resigned in 1932 to devote himself to cinema. In the 1930s, Grossmith appeared in (and wrote the screenplay, in two cases, for) a number of films. In 1933, he played Touchstone in a production of AS YOU LIKE IT in the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park. Also in 1933, he wrote a memoir called G. G.”

- Z. D. Akron





“Gertie Millar was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, in 1878. She grew up to be tall, thin and attractive with dark hair and large limpid eyes. She was also tough, determined and ambitious. Her stage career began as a singer and dancer in the many music halls of Yorkshire. Later, she moved to London where she was soon topping variety bills, earning substantial sums and attracting much attention.

In 1901, George Edwardes (the famous theatre manager and originator of the British musical comedy, who, the previous year, had lost his star, Marie Tempest, after a disagreement over a costume) recruited Gertie Millar to be the leading lady in his productions at the Gaiety Theatre. Her first starring role was in THE TOREADOR.

Her next show was OUR MISS GIBBS that opened at the Gaiety on 23 January, 1902. Its strong cast included George Grossmith jr., Robert Hale, Edmund Payne, Denise Orme, Jean Aylwin, Gladys Homfrey and Kitty Mason, but Gertie Millar was, without doubt, the star and made her the best known musical comedy performer in the country. The music was written, in collaboration with Ivan Caryll, by Lionel John Alexander Monckton, an Oxford University educated lawyer turned composer who married Gertie Millar. The hit song of the show was 'Moonstruck', a song Monkton had written especially for his wife.

He was to write the music for nearly all her following successes, including her next show - A COUNTRY GIRL (1902) that ran for an astonishing 729 performances. In July, 1903, the Gaiety closed for a total refurbishment. The closing show was THE LINKMAN or, GAIETY MEMORIES. Gertie Millar starred as Morgiana, recreating the part original played by Kate Vaughan in the 1880 burlesque THE FORTY THIEVES.

On 26 October, 1903, in the presence of His Majesty King Edward VI and Queen Alexandra, the new Gaiety opened with the premiere of the musical comedy THE ORCHID in which Gertie Millar starred. The show ran for 559 performances. Success after success followed during the next decade. During the 1905-06 season, it was SPRING CHICKEN with music again written by Monckton in collaboration with Ivan Caryll, plus a song written by Jerome David Kern.

On 24 November, 1906, Gertie Millar in THE NEW ALADDIN opened at the Gaiety. Gertie Millar was the star with an impressive cast that included George Grossmith Jnr., Robert Nainby, Harry Grattan, Alfred Lester, Edmund Payne and Adrienne Augarde. The show ran until 27 April, 1907.

THE GIRLS OF GOTTENBERG, again with Monkton's music (and one of the lyrics by P G Wodehouse) opened at the Gaiety Theatre on 15 May, 1907 and ran till 28 March, 1908. This was followed for the 1908-09 season by A WALTZ DREAM with the music of Oscar Straus. In 1910, Gertie Millar starred in one of the most best-loved Gaiety musical comedies, THE QUAKER GIRL. Her co-star was Joseph Coyne, the American actor who had created a sensation with Lily Elsie in THE MERRY WIDOW (1907). His 'Dancing Lesson' with Gertie Millar repeated the enormous success of the 'Merry Widow Waltz' he had performed in the previous show. THE QUAKER GIRL ran for 536 performances.

Gertie Millar's next show, in the spring of 1912, was Franz Lehar's GIPSY LOVE. This was followed by THE DANCING MISTRESS that opened at the Adelphi Theatre in London's Strand on 19 October, 1912. Gertie Millar again was the star with a cast that included Joseph Coyne, James Blakeley, Gracie Leigh, Elsie Spain and Maud Cressall. A great success, the show ran for 241 performances (although, towards the end of the run, Gertie Millar's part was taken by Phyllis Dare and Daisy Elliston).

There were two more long-running comedies in which Gertie Millar starred - THE MARRIAGE MARKET (1913) at Daly's Theatre and BRIC-À-BRAC (1915) at the Palace.”

- Sydney Higgins, THE GOLDEN AGE OF BRITISH THEATRE (1880-1920)





“Monckton showed, through a quarter of a century of shows and songs, that, perhaps more than any other British songwriter of the great period of Gaiety and Daly's musical comedy, he had the ability to produce individual musical-comedy songs which stood out as hit singles in scores by the most appreciable composers of the time. But he also subsequently showed, in A COUNTRY GIRL and THE QUAKER GIRL, that he was capable of composing a complete, or quasi-complete score for a show with equal felicity and equal popular success, and even of venturing occasionally into writing the concerted and ensemble music which had previously been largely the domain of his colleagues (though Monckton's arrangements and orchestrations were inevitably left to the useful Carl Kiefert). His contribution to the English-speaking musical theatre was vast, and his individual songs lasted as favourites for many decade. And then, having tried his hand, not unsuccessfully, at the newfangled revue in partnership with Herman Finck and others (BRIC À BRAC, WE'RE ALL IN IT, AIRS AND GRACES) he withdrew from the world of the musical theatre. Unable and unwilling to adapt his style of writing to the newly popular dance rhythms and 'noisy numbers' which were invading the theatre, he simply stopped writing.”

- British Musical Theatre





“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