Celia Ghiloni

  • GHILONI, Celia (1879-1955)

    Australian actress & vocalist. Née Rosabella Ethel Celia Ghiloni. Born 22 February 1879, VIC, Australia. Married (1) Barnett Breslau (salesman), 2 March 1898, Perth, WA, Australia (div. 1908), (2) Ronald Horace Macpherson (explorer), November 1908, Bombay, India (div. 1919), (3) Alfred J Mellor (sharebroker), 1920, Perth, WA, Australia. Died 1955, Perth, WA, Australia.

    On stage in Australia, 1904-1920, performing principally in the companies of JC Williamson. Settled in Perth following third marriage.

    Riley/Hailes Scrapbook, page 171.

  • Little Wunder: The story of the Palace Theatre, Sydney (Part 11)

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    During 1910 the Palace Theatre enjoyed much prosperity, from the polished performances of the Hugh J. Ward company to the mighty melodramas of Bland Holt performed by the Hamilton-Maxwell Dramatic Company. ELISABETH KUMM continues her history of the Pitt Street playhouse.

    With thearrival of Hugh J. Ward’s company, Ward was heralded as ‘A New Australian Manager’. Since his first appearance in Australia in 1899, as a member of the Hoyt-McKee company, American-born Ward had proved a popular actor and dancer, and his shift to management was a welcome move. In 1906, in association with George Willoughby, his English company had undertaken an eighteen-month tour of Australasia with the comedy The Man from Mexico. Having returned to London in 1908, he organised his own company, touring India, Burma, China, and the Straits Settlements. An article in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph (1 January 1910, p.6) noted:

    In the tour in the East, just concluded, he was his own financier and manager; his knowledge of stage craft and long experience of the theatre enabled him to direct the production of his plays; and in the ultimate result, the box office receipts showed that the venture was, in a pecuniary sense, thoroughly successful. So far as the artistic merits of the productions are concerned, Sydney audiences who are enjoying the brisk acting of a talented, all-round company in “A Bachelor’s Honeymoon” will have but one opinion.

    The Company’s first offering, A Bachelor’s Honeymoon, kicked off the 1909 Christmas season at the Palace, playing for a jolly six weeks. It was followed on 11 February 1910 by VIvian’s Papas, a farcical comedy by Leo Ditrichstein, that was described as a twin to A Bachelor’s Honeymoon on account of its ‘mirth-provoking qualities’. Vivian’s Papas had received its Australian debut during Hugh J. Ward’s initial Perth season, where it played several nights at the Theatre Royal from 12 June 1909.

    Palace Ward CoMembers of the Hugh J. Ward company on tour in the East. Hugh Ward is in the centre, with Grace Palotta to the left. From The Mirror, 21 May 1909, p.15.

    Ditrichstein’s farce had premiered in New York in August 1903. The principal roles were played by Hattie Williams as Vivian Rogers, an actress who attracts the attention of two admirers or ‘papas’—Chester D. Farnham and Frederick W. Walker—played by comedians John C. Rice and Thomas A. Wise. In this production, the role of Alice Farnham, Chester’s wife, was played by Esther Tittell, a sister of actress Tittell Brune. Mixing comedy, drama and song, the play’s big attraction was a Wagnerian/grand opera spoof set against a realistic fire scene.

    At the Palace, Grace Palotta had the titular role, renamed Vivian Gay, with Arthur Eldred and Hugh J. Ward as the two papas. As the piece contained several songs, tenor Walter Whyte was specially engaged to play one of the singing firemen; W.B. Beattie, another singer formerly with Williamson’s Royal Comic Opera Company, played the role of Edouard Pollak, a singing teacher. Ward’s wife, Grace Miller Ward (who would go on to establish herself as a noted Sydney-based singing teacher) paired with Whyte for the operatic fire scene. Maud Chetwynd (previously seen at the Palace with Allan Hamilton’s Dramatic Company in 1909) played the small role of Carrie the housemaid.

    The fire scene provided an exciting climax to the play’s first act, with the Sydney Morning Herald (13 February 1910) observing: ‘Machinery recently imported from the United States provides a remarkable illusion, and it is hard to believe that the stage is not a mass of flames.’

    Palace Musgrove GhiloniFrom Table Talk (Melbourne), 1 July 1909, p.21. Author’s collection.

    Vivian’s Papas played for just a week, closing on 18 February 1910. With the end of the season fast approaching, The Fencing Master (for the first time in Sydney) and The Man from Mexico(first introduced during the 1906 Willoughby-Ward tour), were performed for a week each. The first named play was a far cry from the antics of the two former plays. It was a serious drama, which provided Ward with the opportunity to show his versatility as an actor. A comedy-drama in three acts by Herbert Hall Winslow, the play was described by Ward as ‘one of the most beautiful and interesting plays I have ever had or seen’.1 Ward played the title character, Angelo Rossi, an Italian nobleman who has emigrated to New York after killing a man in a duel. When his son seeks to marry a young lady (Grace Palotta) of an upright family, the father of another man (W.B. Beattie) also after her affections, recognises Rossi as the man in the duel, thereby jeopardising the son’s chances of a good marriage. 

    The Fencing Master had received its premiere by Ward’s company in Calcutta in April 1909. According to Variety (May 1909), it ‘established a record for an opening of an American piece in point of distance from Broadway’. The same article noted that the play had been handed over to Ward without a title and ‘The Fencing Master’ had been selected by the players. It is not clear if the play was ever produced in America as the title had already been assigned to another work—Reginald de Koven’s 1892 opera—and would have been given another name. The piece received its first Australian outings in Perth in June 1909 and in Melbourne in August 1909.

    The Man from Mexico, the comedy by George Broadhurst, that was the hit of the 1906 Willoughby-Ward season, brought the company’s Palace season to a close. Hugh Ward repeated his success as the ‘picturesque liar who talks about his adventures in Mexico so as to account for his absence from home while he has been serving a sentence in gaol’.2 The audience demanded repeated encores of his song ‘Nobody’ (written by Alex Rogers, with music by Bert A. Williams, and first published in 1905). Grace Palotta and Reginald Wykeham reprised their roles, along with Celia Ghiloni and Maud Chetwynd.

    Palace Roaring CampNellie Fergusson (Jovita de Sutro), Harry Diver (Tom Barnes), Ethel Buckley (Nell), Kenneth Hunter (Dick Gordon) in The Luck of Roaring Camp. Photos by Talma. From Punch (Melbourne), 10 February 1910, p.185.

    With the departure of Hugh J. Ward, George Marlow’s company made a welcome return. They began their season on 5 March 1910 with the first Sydney production of The Luck of Roaring Camp, a melodrama in four acts by Benjamin Landeck, set on the Californian goldfields. It was apparently adapted from a story by American novelist Bret Harte (‘America’s Charles Dickins’), however, reviews soon revealed that the title was the only similarity. The Daily Telegraph, for example, noted, Landeck’s play ‘bears not the faintest resemblance to Bret Harte’s well-known story of the that name … It relates not to the doings of Oakhurst, the gambler; Stumpy, the good-natured Kentuck, and the rest of them, but the schemes of one Tom Barnes to obtain undisputed possession of a certain hidden mine, and to destroy the happiness of Will Gordon and Nell Curtis—persons who are conspicuously absent from the pages of Bret Harte’.3

    Landeck’s play had first been performed in London at the Fulham Theatre in March 1909, and in Australia in January 1910 during George Marlow’s Adelaide season.

    Ethel Buckley played the heroine, Nell (she was to repeat the role in a 1911 film-version of the play), with Nellie Fergusson as the Spanish adventuress, Jovita de Sutro, who along with Tom Barnes, played by Harry Diver, is one of the villains of the piece. Kenneth Hunter proved popular with audiences as Will Gordon, the hero, and J.P. O’Neill provided ‘a good deal of merriment’ as Mary Flynn, ‘a buxom dame’ who has buried two husbands.4

    Palace audiences did not mind that the play had little to do with Bret Harte’s original story. It attracted packed houses, with Marlow reportedly turning people away each night. It played for the full three weeks of the season, after which the company departed for Western Australia.

    On Easter Saturday, the Allan Hamilton-Max Maxwell Dramatic Company opened their season at the Palace. Following the retirement of Bland Holt, the sole rights to some of his greatest successes were secured by the new partnership of Hamilton and Maxwell. Allan Hamilton was a well-known and respected theatre manager, whose dramatic company had played at the Palace in 1909. Max Maxwell, a Tasmanian-born actor, had been with the Bland Holt company for 14 years, starting off in bit parts and graduating to leading man.

    The company’s repertoire of plays included Woman and Wine, In London Town, Revenge, The Lights o’ London and Woman’s Hate. They also acquired the original scenery for these plays, painted by John Brunton, who had only recently died, in July 1909, aged 60. English-born Brunton had been in Australia since 1886, having been engaged by Willliamson, Garner and Musgrove at the Theatre Royal in Melbourne, painting backdrops for everything from Gilbert & Sullivan to pantomime and drama. By the early 1890s, he was also working on cloths for other managements, and in 1896 he had replaced W.B. Spong as scenic artist with Bland Holt. During his fifteen years with Holt, he painted the scenes for a raft of melodramas. In addition to the five selected for revival, they included The Cotton King, The Union Jack, The Prodigal Daughter, A Life of Pleasure, Straight from the Heart, Sporting Life, The Breaking of the Drought, The White Heather, The Great Millionaire and The Great Rescue. He was working on The Sins of Society at the time of his death.

    Actors were drawn principally from the Bland Holt company, including Harrie Ireland, Jennie Pollock, Arthur Styan, Godfrey Cass and Charles Brown, while Beatrice Holloway was from the Hamiliton company.

    Hamilton and Maxwell launched their Sydney season with Woman and Wine, a melodrama by Arthur Shirley and Benjamin Landeck. Bland Holt’s staging was carefully observed, and the play was presented in true ‘Blandholtian’ style. Set pieces included the Longchamps Steeplechase, the Japanese Ball, and the spectacular revolving set to the Paris Flower Market, which featured a duel with knives between two women!

    Palace Woman Wine From The Star (Sydney), 11 April 1910, p.8Woman and Wine was initially produced in 1897 at the Pavilion Theatre in London, and in March 1899 at the Princess’s Theatre.

    When Bland Holt first staged the play in Melbourne in April 1899 and Sydney in June 1900, the principal characters were played by Elizabeth Watson/Harrie Ireland (Marcel Rigadout), Frances Ross (Mary Andrews), Fitzmaurice Gill (La Colombe), Walter Baker (Dick Seymour) and Arthur Styan (Pierre Crucru). For this current revival, Arthur Styan was the only actor from the original cast. Other roles were now played by Jennie Pollock (Marcel Rigadout), Beatrice Holloway (Mary Andrews), Vera Remee (La Colombe) and Max Maxwell (Dick Seymour).

    Woman and Wine played for a fortnight, and on 16 April 1910, the company presented In London Town, a rag to riches melodrama by George R. Sims and Arthur Shirley. First produced in London at the Crown Theatre in Peckham in August 1899, the play entered Bland Holt’s repertoire the following year when it played three nights at the Opera House in Brisbane in April 1900. It was subsequently seen in Melbourne in June 1901 and Sydney in May 1902.

    Once again, the only original cast member in the current revival was Arthur Styan who reprised his role of the blind tramp, Richard Norrison. Other parts were played by Max Maxwell (John Hargreaves), Godfrey Cass (Frank Dalton), Beatrice Holloway (Alice Dalton), Charles Brown (Jack Parker), Muriel Dale (Liddy Blist) and Jennie Pollock (Rosa Norrison).

    Two weeks later, on 30 April 1910, the company presented their final revival of the season: Revenge, a romantic military drama by E. Hill Mitchelson. This was the most recent of the Bland Holt melodramas, receiving its first Australian outing at the Theatre Royal in Melbourne in January 1907. Woven around the Austrian revolution, this tale of daring-do was set in a royal palace, providing John Brunton with the opportunity to design some elaborate sets, ranging from a throne room to a prison. Max Maxwell played the dashing hero, Captain Loris Vanessa, with Godfrey Cass and Beatrice Holloway as the King and Queen. Richard Bellairs and Jennie Pollock added ‘weight and emphasis’ as the two baddies, Prince Orloff and Braga Vanessa.

    Revengeproved a money-maker for Hamilton and Maxwell, but with West Pictures driven from the Glaciarium by the winter skaters and due to commence their season at the Palace Theatre on 7 May 1910, the melodrama company was required to call it quits. Thus, the company, comprising some 32 people and 130 tons of scenery, departed on a protracted tour of New Zealand and Tasmania.

    West Pictures held court until the first week of September, and on 10 September 1910, the Hamilton-Maxwell company made a welcome return. Their opening production was Women’s Revenge by Henry Pettitt, one of the most popular dramas in the Bland Holt repertoire. First produced at the Adelphi Theatre in London in 1893, with Charles Warner (Frank Drummond), Elizabeth Robins (Mary Lonsdale), Gertrude Kingston (Mabel Wentworth), and Charles Cartwright (Jephtha Grimshaw) as the leads. The following year, it was performed in Australia for the first time by the Bland Holt company, with Edward Sass, Henrietta Watson, Edith Blande and Walter Baker. The scenery was designed by George and John Gordon. Holt mounted an elaborate revival in 1897 with new scenery by John Brunton. The leads, on this occasion, were Walter Baker, Elizabeth Watson, Frances Ross and John Cosgrove.

    The line-up of the Hamilton-Maxwell company was largely the same as it had been the previous March, with Beatrice Holloway, Max Maxwell and Richard Bellairs as the leads. However, two newcomers, Nellie Strong and Ronald W. Riley, now filled the roles vacated by Jennie Pollock and Arthur Styan, who had joined the Clarke and Meynell organisation.

    Alas, one day into the season Beatrice Holloway fell ill with enteric fever (typhoid), with Vera Remee taking over the part of the heroine Mary Lonsdale.

    Women’s Revenge played until 23 September. By way of farewelling the play—and in anticipation of the one to follow—‘J.B.’ contributed a little poem to the Bulletin.

    Palace Womans Revenge PoemFrom The Bulletin (Sydney), 22 September 1910, p.8

    With the end of the season looming, Allan Hamilton announced two new dramas, The Little Breadwinnerand Why Men Love Women. These were being presented by arrangement with Messrs Clarke and Meynell.

    The first of these plays, The Little Breadwinner, had already been performed throughout Western Australia, Victoria, and Queensland by the Clarke and Meynell company. It had been given its Australian premiere at His Majesty’s Theatre in Perth in February 1908, with G.P. Carey, Fred Coape, Beatrice Holloway, C.R. Stanford, Ida Gresham and Queenie Williams in the principal roles. The last named was a child star who had been seen to good effect in the Meynell and Gunn hit show The Fatal Wedding, performing with the ‘Tin Can Band’.

    Described as a Domestic Drama in five acts, the play by J.A. Campbell, had first been performed in Birmingham in December 1905 (by J.A. Campbell’s own company), prior to opening in London, at the Standard Theatre, on 19 March 1906. The London cast included J.C. Aubrey (Lord William), C. King (Richard), Kathleen Russell (Margaret) and Little Maud Harris (Meg).

    The play tells the story of Dick Lawrence, the adopted son of Lord William Dorrington, who wrongly convicted of stealing, is banished from the household. Moving to London with his betrothed, Margaret, the couple live in poverty, and with his wife now blind, they rely on their little daughter Meg to keep ‘the wolf from the door by singing in the street’. Eventually the true perpetrator of the theft is found, and the whole family is reunited.

    The first Sydney production of The Little Breadwinner opened on 24 September 1910. Apart from Queenie Williams, who played Meg, the ‘little breadwinner’ of the title, the line up of the company was completely new, with Charles Brown (Lord William), Max Maxwell (Dick Lawrence), Vera Remee (Margaret), with Richard Bellairs as Joseph Prior, the chief villain.

    The Little Breadwinnerproved a little winner, especially the performance of Queenie Williams.5

    The final play of the season was Why Men Love Women by Walter Howard, the author of the highly popular melodrama The Midnight Wedding. This play had been announced for performance by the Harcourt Beatty-Madge McIntosh company in 1908 but was not performed. And in early 1910, it was slated for performance in Melbourne by the Clarke-Meynell company. It finally received its first Australian production at Maitland (NSW) on 12 March 1910 by the Edwin Geach company. The principal characters were played by Walter Vincent (Gerald Fielding), Lottie Lyell (Violet Livingstone), Raymond Longford (Captain Serge Staniloff), Ida Gresham (Mariel Toloski), and C.R. Stanford (Maharajah of Balore).

    Described as an ‘Anglo-Indian drama, with many stirring and sensational interests’, the play had first been performed in Manchester (UK) in 1901. It did very well in the British provinces, but never reached the West End.

    When the play opened In Sydney on 8 October 1910, it was incorrectly advertised as being the ‘first production in Australia’. It received a warm reception, being ‘joyously acclaimed by a crowded house at the Palace Theatre’.6 The principal characters were performed by Vera Remee (Violet Livingstone), Max Maxwell (Gerald Fielding), Richard Bellairs (Captain Staniloff), Ronald W. Riley (Maharajah) and Nellie Strong (Muriel Zoluski). Interestingly, all the reviews make it clear that the title of the play is never really explained. There was a scene in which the hero gave a poetic speech, the ‘Allegory of Love, the Maiden, and the Rose’, which gave promise of a solution, but apparently left the most attentive listeners still without a firm answer!

    Why Men Love Women played to packed houses, but was withdrawn at the height of it success on 28 October 1910 to make way for The Spider and the Fly. Described as a ‘sensational drama of modern times’, this new play, being performed in Australia for the first time, was written by two stalwarts of the genre, Sutton Vane and Arthur Shirley.

    It had first been performed at the Grand Theatre, Brighton, in April 1906, and at the Kennington Theatre, London, the following August. The story of two half-brothers, one good, and one bad. The good brother, Cyril Girdlestone, is happily married with a wife and infant. Cyril had previously been tricked into a marriage with an adventuress, Lola Grey, but following her death was free to marry his true sweetheart, Edith McAllister. When Cyril’s half-brother, Welby, learns that Cyril has become the sole heir of their father’s fortune, he plots with Lola (who isn’t really dead, and who had married Cyril bigamously), to kill the young family. She sets a trap, whereby Cyril and Edith are locked in a room in which the ceiling can be mechanically lowered, thereby squashing any inhabitants! Ultimately the villainous Lola is caught in her own snare. The cast included Max Maxwell and Vera Remee as the hero and heroine, with Richard Bellairs as the scheming half-brother, and Nellie Strong as the adventuress.

    The Spider and the Flywas played until 11 November 1910, and on the following night the company reprised the melodrama Revenge, which they had first presented earlier in the year—and which had been the hit of that season. Max Maxwell and Richard Bellairs once again played Captain Loris Vanessa and Prince Orloff respectively, while Ronald W. Riley and Vera Remee now played the King and Queen, with Nellie Strong as Braga Vanessa.

    Revengeplayed for twelve nights, closing on 25 November, thus bringing the highly successful Hamilton-Maxwell season to an end. With the end of this engagement, the company was disbanded, with Max Maxwell and Allan Hamilton going their separate ways. Maxwell set off on a country tour, and readers will be happy to note that he was re-joined by Beatrice Holloway as his leading lady, fully recovered from her recent severe indisposition.

    The following night, 26 November, saw the return to the Sydney stage of Maggie Moore, accompanied by her husband H.R. Roberts. Their company included many old favourites, including A.E. Greenaway, C.R. Stanford and Ethel Bashford.

    Palace Shadows CartoonFrom The Bulletin (Sydney), 24 November 1910, p.8The company’s three-week season saw the production of three plays, playing for a week each. The first was Shadows of a Great City, written by Joseph Jefferson and Livingston Robert Sherwell and first performed in America in 1884, Australia in 1885, and the UK in 1887. Set amidst the urban underbelly of the New York docks and on Blackwell’s Island, the play introduced a myriad of gritty characters. As Biddy Roonan, Maggie Moore played a big-hearted Irish washerwoman, replete with songs. (Interestingly, when the play was revived in Australia in 1887, the role of Biddy was played by comic Grattan Riggs.)

    Six nights later, a change of bill saw a revival of A Gambler’s Sweetheart, originally performed by them eighteen months earlier, under the auspices of Clarke and Meynell. Written by Clay M. Greene (of Struck Oilfame), H.R. Roberts and Maggie Moore reprised their characters of Mason (the gambler) and Bessie Fairfax (his sweetheart). The Sydney Morning Herald observed of her performance, that she played Bessie ‘with a vivacity and archness reminiscent of her never-to-be-forgotten Lizzie Stofel [in Struck Oil].’7

    The following night, Saturday, 9 December 1910, they presented their final offering, a revival of The Prince Chap, previously seen at the Palace during 1908. H.R. Roberts and A.E. Greenaway revived their original roles of William Peyton and the Earl of Henningford, as did Little Vera Huggett and Beryl Yates who played the girl Claudia in Acts 1 and 2 respectively. Ethel Bashford played Claudia in Act 3. As Maggie Moore was not in the play, the evening concluded with the one act farce The Chinese Question, specially written for her by Clay M. Greene, in which she played Kitty McShane (alias San See Lo).

    Next the Mosman Musical Society took over the theatre for a week, from 17-23 December, presenting Auber’s comic opera Fra Diavolo.

    The year cycled back to where it began with the return of Hugh J. Ward’s company, bringing with them a new comedy, The Girl from Rector’s.


    To be continued



    1. Kalgoorlie Miner, 23 June 1909, p.8

    2. Referee, 2 March 1910, p.16

    3. Daily Telegraph, 7 March 1910, p.10

    4. Australian Town and Country Journal, 9 March 1910, p.51

    5. For more information on the career of Queenie Williams, see Nick Murphy’s, Queenie Williams (1896-1962) & the last Pollard’s tour of America – Forgotten Australian Actors (forgottenaustralianactresses.com)

    6. Sydney Morning Herald, 10 October 1910, p.5

    7. Sydney Morning Herald, 5 December 1910, p.4


    Allardyce Nicoll, English Drama 1900–1930: The beginnings of the modern period, Cambridge University Press, 1973

    L. Carson (editor), The Stage Year Book, Carson & Comerford Lrd, 1910

    Reginald Clarence, The Stage Cyclopaedia: A bibliography of play, Burt Franklin, 1970 (originally published in 1909)

    Nick Murphy, Queenie Williams (1896-1962) & the last Pollard’s tour of America, Forgotten Australian Actors (website)

    J.P. Wearing, The London Stage, 19001909: A calendar of productions, performers, and personnel, 2nd edition, Rowman & Littlefield, 2014


    Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney), The Bulletin (Sydney), The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), Kalgoorlie Miner, The Mirror (Sydney), Punch (Melbourne), The Referee (Sydney), The Star (Sydney), The Sydney Morning Herald, Table Talk (Melbourne)

    Trove, https://trove.nla.gov.au/


    National Library of Australia, Canberra

    State Library of New South Wales, Sydney

    State Library Victoria, Melbourne

    With thanks to

    Rob Morrison, Nick Murphy

  • Little Wunder: The story of the Palace Theatre, Sydney (Part 12)

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    The year 1911 saw Sydney’s Palace Theatre go from strength to strength, with the appearance of new players and old favourites and the staging of some of the year’s most riotous comedies. ELISABETH KUMM explains in Part 12 of her history of the Pitt Street venue.

    Christmas1910 at the Palace Theatre saw the return of Hugh J. Ward’s company, bringing with them a new comedy, The Girl from Rector’s, which opened on Christmas Eve, 24 December. With this season, Ward was also announcing his ‘farewell to the footlights’, having accepted an offer from J.C. Williamson Ltd. to become a principal with The Firm.

    Described in the bills as ‘A riotous piece of extravagance’, ‘A laughing paralysis in four fits’ and ‘A spicy banquet of merriment’, the new piece was a comedy in four acts by Paul M. Potter (best known for turning George Du Maurier’s 1896 novel Trilby into a play). Ward’s company had presented the first Australian production of The Girl from Rector’s at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne the previous June, and on tour, where it was a huge success. Derived from the French farce, Loute, by Pierre Veber, the play focusses on the adulterous goings-on of several couples.1 When it was first produced in Trenton, New Jersey (29 January 1909) by A.H. Woods, it attracted the ire of the local clergy and was withdrawn after just one out-of-town ‘try-out’. As a result, it received a great reception when it moved to Broadway, opening at Weber’s Music Hall on 1 February 1909, and playing for 184 performances.2

    palace girl from rectors 02Scene restaurant scene in the last act from The Girl from Rector’s. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections.

    In advertisements, Ward reproduced a rather tongue-in-cheek ‘Author’s Note’, which read:

    The Girl from Rector’s is a full version of Pierre Veber’s famous comedy ‘Loute’, which has had a triumphant career in Europe. Based on the strange theory that married men often lead double lives, and that the saint of the rural home may be the Lothario of its city, Mr Potter hesitated to introduce this comedy to a community where he believed, in his innocence, that married men of double lives were practically unknown, but as many recent lawsuits have tended to prove the contrary, the management has decided to produce the play, in the hopes that it will serve as a warning to husbands, and strengthen the hands of matrons and maids who are battling for the purity of the home.3

    palace seven days posterFrom The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 31 January 1911, p.9Like many farces, its plot is complicated. Nevertheless, the central character, has just been dumped by her lover Richard O’Shaughnessy, a New York playboy. She goes by the name of Loute Sedaine, but she is actually the wife of a small-town judge. Richard is on the hunt for a new girlfriend and falls for a pretty heiress, Marcia Singleton, who is also the object of Professor Maboon’s affections. Richard tells Colonel Tandy of his plans, little knowing that Tandy is really Marcia’s father, believed by his wife and daughter to be Martinique. In the end identities are revealed and the various couples pair off, with Loute returning to her husband and Richard marrying Marcia. The final big scene involves a dinner in a suburban restaurant between Loute and Richard, whereby the staff are all Marcia’s friends and family in disguise.

    The play’s title, which references a stylish New York restaurant, has little to do with the plot, but rather reflects the current fashion for plays and musicals with titles beginning The Girl from … .4

    In America, the central characters were played by Violet Dale (Loute Sedaine), Van Rensselaer Wheeler (Richard O’Shaughnessy), Nena Blake (Marcia Singleton), William Burress (Colonel Tandy), Herbert Carr (Judge Caperton), Elita Proctor Otis (Mrs Witherspoon Copley) and Dallas Wellford (Professor Aubrey Maboon). In Sydney, the same roles were performed by Grace Palotta, Aubrey Mallalieu, Ruby Baxter, Reginald Wykeham, Robert Greig, Celia Ghiloni and Hugh J. Ward.

    The farce was to have been followed by another comedy on 28 January 1911, but on account of it “drawing such crowded audiences”, Ward decided to keep it running for a fortnight longer.5

    The Girl from Rector’s was finally withdrawn on 3 February 1911, and the following night Seven Days was produced for the first time in Australia. By way of a publicity stunt, prior to its opening, one of the ladies in the company, Clara Budgin, undertook to climb a scaffold and paste a huge poster on the side of a building in Pitt Street announcing the opening of the play. This stunt was undertaken in response to a claim in a newspaper article that there was “at least one business in which women could not excel”: namely bill posting!6

    Though not as hilarious as The Girl from Rector’s, Avery Hopwood and Mary Robert Rinehart’s three-act comedy did very well on Broadway, playing for a year (some reviews exaggerating it to two!). Based on Rinehart’s 1908 novella When a Man Marries, it was her first play and only the second play of co-writer Hopwood. The two would enjoy further successes with Spanish Love and The Bat.

    palace seven days 02Scene from Seven Days. From the left: Grace Palotta, Reginald Wykeham. Maud Chetwynd, Aubrey Mallalieu, Celia Ghiloni, Hugh J. Ward, Ruby Baxter and Robert Greig, with H.H. Wallace (top). Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections.

    Seven Days opened on Broadway at the Astor Theatre on 10 November 1909, following a single ‘try-out’ performance at the Taylor Opera Houe in Trenton, New Jersey, on 1 November. Deftly combining comedy and crime, the play centres on a group of people who are forced to spend seven days together after a case of smallpox is detected among the servants. James Wilson has divorced, but has not told his rich Aunt Selina, so when she comes to visit, he gets Kit McNair to pretend to be his wife. Just before the household is thrown into quarantine, James’s former wife arrives, as does James’s friend Dallas Brown with wife Anne; Tom Harbison, an admirer of Kit’s (amazed to find her ‘married’); a red-headed police officer; and a burglar in hiding. The Broadway line-up included Herbert Corthell (James Wilson), Lucille La Verne (Aunt Selina), Georgie O’Ramsey (Kit McNair), Hope Latham (Bella Knowles), Allan Pollock (Dallas Brown), Florence Reed (Anne Brown), Carl Eckstrom (Tom Harbison), Jay Wilson (Office Flannigan) and William Eville (Tubby McGirk). Unlike The Girl from Rector’s, Seven Days also played a short season in London, when it was performed at the New Theatre for 16 performances from 15 March 1915, with Lennox Pawle, Lotte Venne, Athene Seyler and Auriol Lee.

    Seven Days was performed for the final three weeks of Ward’s season at the Palace, with the key roles played by Hugh J. Ward (James Wilson), Celia Ghiloni (Aunt Selina), Grace Palotta (Kit McNair), Ruby Baxter (Bella Knowles), Aubrey Mallalieu (Dallas Brown), Maud Chetwynd (Anne Brown), Reginald Wyckham (Tom Harbison), Robert Greig (Office Flannigan) and H.H. Wallace (Tubby McGirk). Opening night was a memorable one for Ward. Not only was he entering his final weeks as an actor-manager, but just before the curtain went up, he received news that his house (‘Lafayette’, William Street, Double Bay) was on fire. Fortunately, the fire crew was able to contain the blaze to a bathroom, lavatory, and luggage room, but the timing was not great. This was on top of an already busy week for Ward, not only rehearsing a new play, but as the chief organiser and participant in a benefit for two surf lifesavers. The benefit, which was held at the Stadium (in Rushcutters Bay), took the form of a ‘boxing display’, including a match between Ward and Reginald ‘Snowy’ Baker (a professional pugilist and brother of one of the lifesavers). The event raised £800. (For the record, Ward won the bout when in the second round he delivered a knockout punch with his left to Snowy’s jaw. Snowy fell back and hit his head and was carried off unconscious. Shocked at the outcome, Ward vowed to hang up his gloves!)

    palace hugh ward 03From The Bulletin (Sydney), 2 March 1911, p.8 (left) and Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections (right)

    On the last night of the season, Saturday, 25 February 1911, by way of his farewell to the stage, Ward performed his Scarecrow dance for the first time in Sydney. The dance was part of a larger sketch entitled The Scarecrow, which according to publicity had been devised by him some years earlier when he was appearing in Paris at the Théâtre du Châtelet. The character was subsequently introduced into the Drury Lane pantomime Humpty Dumpty in 1903–1904. A quote from the London Telegraph was included in newspaper ads:

    A wonderful scarecrow of old clothes and bursting straw stuffing, impersonated with rare skill by Mr. Ward. His movement, so invertebrate and fifth of Novemberish, are like nothing we have ever seen. There is a pathetic grotesqueness about them quite fascinating.7

    With the departure of Ward and his company, Spencer’s Theatrescope Company commenced a short season at the Palace (pending their relocation to the Lyceum Theatre) and over the following fortnight they presented a weekly change of ‘picture plays’ beginning with Rip Van Winkleon 27 February.

    Saturday, 11 March 1911 saw the arrival of the Hamilton-Plimmer-Denniston company, fresh from a successful tour of New Zealand. The company, which was considered the heir to the old Brough-Boucicault company, included Mrs Robert Brough (nee Florence Trevelyn), the widow of Robert Brough who had died in 1906. After his death she had gone to the ‘old country’ for a time and had also (rather unexpectedly) remarried. The three directors of the new company had also performed with the Brough company at various times. When he was last at the Palace, Allan Hamilton had been associated with Max Maxwell, but with the dissolution of that partnership, he joined forces with Harry Plimmer and Reynolds Denniston. The combination that was now at the Palace had previously appeared in Sydney in September 1910 at the Theatre Royal.

    Pre-publicity suggested that they would be opening their season with the first Australian production of Somerset Maugham’s comedy Smith. However, this was not the case. Instead, they revived A Message from Mars (Hamilton having acquired the sole Australian rights from Clarke and Meynell), with Plimmer as Horace Parker and Denniston as the Messenger. Lizette Parkes was Minnie Templar and Mrs Robert Brough was Aunt Martha. The play was mounted with all new scenery by Harry Whaite. As the season was strictly limited to five weeks, it was withdrawn on 17 March and replaced by The Passing of the Third Floor Back. Written by Jerome K. Jerome (based on his short story) and originally performed in England in 1909 with Johnston Forbes Robertson and Gertrude Elliott, it was subsequently staged in Australia by the Clarke and Meynell company in June/July 1910 with star London actors Matheson Lang and Hutin Britton. Sub-titled, ‘an idle fantasy’, it was the story of a mysterious stranger who takes a room in a London boarding-house, and one by one he helps its miserable and dissolute tenants to find their ‘better selves’. For the current revival, Harry Plimmer played The Stranger, with Lizette Parkes as the Slavey, Mrs Brough as the Landlady, and Reynolds Denniston as Major Tompkins.

    palace message marsCharacters from A Message from Mars. From The Sun (Sydney), 13 March 1911, p.5.

    On the 25 March 1911, the Hamilton-Plimmer-Denniston company presented their last play for the season, a revival of Lovers’ Lane, a rustic tale of a “country parson’s troubles with his flock and his sweethearts”, by Clyde Fitch. First performed in America in 1909 and by the current company in 1910, it saw Harry Plimmer reprise his role of the Rev. Thomas Singleton, with Reynolds Denniston as Herbert Woodbridge, Mrs Brough as Mrs Woodbridge, Valentine Sidney as Miss Mattie, and Lizette Parkes as Simplicity Johnson. During the second act, Myra Wall, sang ‘Ben Bolt’ (composed by Nelson Kneass in 1848 and memorably reprised in Trilby), and Lizette Parkes, together with a ‘band of merry youngsters’, sang ‘The Old Red School’ (by Irving B. Lee, with music by Hampton Durand).8

    With the close of the season, the company headed north to Brisbane. In advance, Allan Hamilton secured a return season at the Palace in September.

    Next, for two nights only, Saturday, 1 April and Monday, 3 April, the Sydney Stage Society presented Civil War, a comedy in four acts by Ashley Dukes. It saw the reappearance of G.S. Titheradge, who as Sir John Latimer ‘gave an able and polished exposition of the proud and obstinate old Baronet’.9 He was supported by Leonard Willey, Stephen Scarlett, Lily Titheradge and Ruby Ward. A.E. Greenaway directed.

    From 4–7 April, the Palace hosted the Lyric Opera Company in a new and original Australian ‘Musical Military Frisk’ by P.C. Gray (libretto) and George Tott (music) called 1920. It seems rehearsals had been held in September 1910 and these were the premiere performances. A notable element of the production were the ballets created by Ruby Hooper (a younger sister of J.C. Williamson ballet mistress, Minnie Hooper) which featured a young Madge Elliott as solo danseuse.10

    George Marlow was back on 8 April with The Luck of Roaring Camp—the play that had been a huge hit the previous year. But it was not the play! It was the ‘moving picture’ version, directed by W.J. Lincoln, with Ethel Buckley reprising her role of Nell Curtis. The hero, Will Gordon, was now played by Robert Inman. The review in the Sydney Morning Herald (10 April 1911, p.4) noted:

    The drama was played before the camera by George Marlow’s dramatic company … and the result, as shown, by the pictures, is a thrilling “story without words” … The play has been carefully selected for this method of portrayal, because it teems with exciting episodes and thrilling incidents in particular that could never be seen on any stage without the camera is the splendid exhibition of horsemanship shown by a team of rough-riders.

    The film, which had been seen in Melbourne the previous March, was being screened in Sydney for the first time. It played for six nights only as part of a longer program of films.11

    Good Friday, 14 April saw a Grand Sacred Concert, which featured The Royal Hawaiians.

    The next evening West’s Pictures returned. Over the following months they screened films in two venues, the Palace and the Glaciarium, though in June, the pictures moved from the open air Glaciarium to the newly-opened Princess Theatre in George Street, opposite Central Station, and from 4 August, they used just the Princess, and the Palace returned to live entertainment.

    On 5 August 1911, William Anderson took over the lease of the Palace, opening with the first Sydney appearance of Tom Liddiard’s Lilliputians. This ‘Great company of Little Artists’ had been formed in 1907 and since that time had been touring throughout India and the East. Since returning to Australia in April 1910, the company undertook several regional tours and had joined forces with William Anderson’s management to present the pantomime The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. The show received its first Australian outing at Christmas 1910 at the King’s Theatre in Melbourne. Prior to their arrival in Sydney, the pantomime had been seen in Adelaide, Broken Hill, Ballarat and Bendigo.

    Reviews were quick to point out that it was a risky move presenting pantomime outside of the festive season, but nevertheless, Anderson seemed to know what he was doing. The Lilliputians proved a big drawcard. The pantomime by F. Major drew on a whole bevy of characters from nursery rhymes and fairy tales, headed by Jack Dauntless played by Lily Clarke, whose ‘graceful and effective’ singing and dancing proved a drawcard. Her song ‘Hello, Little Girl’ was particularly effective. Another song, ‘Why Does My Heart Beat So?’ was introduced by another youngster, Dorothea Liddle, in the role of Jill.12

    From 26 August, with the arrival of William Anderson’s Dramatic Company, the pantomime played selected matinees only, touring to nearby theatres at other times. The Anderson Co. had been performing at the Criterion Theatre since 12 August, but was forced to vacate the theatre to make way for British actress Ethel Irving, who was opening her Sydney debut season on 26 August.

    The new show was The Man from Outback, a melodrama in four acts by Albert Edmunds (the pen name of Bert Bailey and Edmund Duggan). An Australian-themed melodrama set on a cattle station—involving the capture of cattle rustlers by the owner’s feisty daughter with the help of a mysterious stranger—the play, which capitalised on the success of The Squatter’s Daughter, had first been produced in 1909 at the King’s Theatre in Melbourne, and had recently been revived at the King’s in July/August 1911. This was its first Sydney representation. The title character, Dave Goulburn, was played by Roy Redgrave (he created the role in 1909), supported by Olive Wilton as Mona Maitland, with Bert Bailey in the comic role of Joe Lachlan, and Edmund Duggan and Rutland Beckett as the chief villains. The play was well received, with the Sydney Morning Herald (7 August 1911, p.6) noting:

    From the opening scene to the final curtain it gripped the audience, and clearly, ‘The Man from Outback’ has come for a prolonged stay. Its joint authors, Mr Bert Bailey and Mr Edmund Duggan, in this second effort have improved upon ‘The Squatter’s Daughter’. The plot is good, its unfolding moves briskly forward, the dialogue is to the point, and the whole environment is that of the Australian bush.

    Of the cast, Roy Redgrave is probably one of the more interesting actors. He had been in Australia on and off since 1904 and prior to joining William Anderson’s company in 1909, he had returned to England, where he met and married his second wife, the actress Daisy (Margaret) Scudamore. In mid-1909, six months after the birth of their son Michael, the family travelled to Australia, under contact to William Anderson’s company, opening in Melbourne in August 1909 in The Bushwoman. Daisy played the heroine, Kate, with Roy as her lover Jack Dunstan. Off stage relations between Daisy and Roy were fractious, and when Daisy’s contract with Anderson expired in August 1910, she returned to London with her son. Michael Redgrave would go on to achieve accolades as an actor on both stage and screen (receiving a knighthood in 1959), with Roy becoming the patriarch of an acting family that spawned three generations.13

    On 3 September, The Man from Outback gave way to The Christian. This was a revised version of a play by Hall Caine, based partly on his 1896 novel of the same name. It told the story of a young Manx woman, Glory Quayle, who, against the advice of John Storm, a crusading Anglican priest, leaves the Isle of Man to become a successful music hall artiste. Storm goes after her and in a rage is determined to kill her if she won’t repent her life of sin, and recognising that they love one another, Glory agrees to become his wife and help him with his work among the poor.

    The play had originally been staged in 1897, when a copyright performance was given at the Grand Theatre in Douglas on the Isle of Man on 7 August, with the actors drawn from Caine’s own family (with Caine as John Storm).14 The first professional production was given in America the following year with Viola Allen as Glory Quayle and Edward J. Morgan as Storm. Evelyn Millard created the role of Glory in England in 1899, with Herbert Waring as the preacher. In Australia, a new adaptation of the novel was made by Wilson Barrett and Bernard Espinaise, and first staged in 1900 with Edith Crane and Tyrone Power in the lead roles. This version was subsequently revived in 1903–1904 (with Cuyler Hastings and May Chevalier) and 1906–1907 (with Charles Waldron and Ola Humphrey). In 1907, Hall Caine devised a new version of the play, given its first performance at the Lyceum Theatre in London, with Alice Crawford and Matheson Lang as the principals. It was this play that was staged in Australia in 1911.

    The play saw the return of Eugenie Duggan (wife of William Anderson), who played the role of Glory Quayle, with Roy Redgrave as John Storm, a role he was said to have played ‘over 200 nights in England’. The run was limited to a fortnight pending the arrival of the Plimmer–Denniston company. It seems the success of The Christian lead to the making of a film version featuring the same cast. It was directed by Franklyn Barrett. Sadly, the film is considered lost.15

    palace nobodys daughter 01Scene from Nobody’s Daughter: Mrs Brough and Harry Plimmer as Mr and Mrs Frampton, with Reynolds Denniston and Valentine Sidney as Colonel and Mrs Torrens. In Sydney, Beatrice Day played the role of Mrs Torrens. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections.

    Saturday, 16 September 1911, saw the return of the Plimmer–Denniston company, under the direction of Allan Hamilton, with the first Sydney production of Nobody’s Daughter. Heralded as “The Best English Play of the Year”, the four-act drama by George Paston (the nom-de-theatre of Miss E.M. Symonds), had already been performed with noted success in Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide and throughout New Zealand.

    The story concerns a young girl (Honora May) who, born out of wedlock, is bought up by foster parents in the country. On her nineteenth birthday, her real parents, Colonel Torrens and Mrs Frampton, come to visit, and Mrs Frampton is persuaded to adopt Honoria as her ‘ward’. The Framptons and the Torrens are good friends and Mrs Torrens and Mr Frampton both become suspicious as to the young girl’s real parents. Honoria has a suitor from the country and on learning the truth fears that her sweetheart will reject her. However, he is made of stronger stuff, and the two young people elope. Likewise, after much discussion and tears, Mrs Torrens and then Mr Frampton forgive their spouses for the folly of their youth.

    The play had first been introduced tpalace beauty bargePoster for Allan Hamilton’s Australasian tour of Beauty and the Barge. The images used on the poster come from the original 1904 London production. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections.o the London stage in September 1910, playing at Wyndham’s Theatre for 185 performances. The key roles were played by Gerald du Maurier and Lilian Braithwaite as Mr and Mrs Frampton, Sydney Valentine and Henrietta Watson as Colonel and Mrs Torrens, and Rosalie Toller as Honora May. In Sydney these same roles were taken by Harry Plimmer and Mrs Brough, Reynolds Denniston and Beatrice Day, with Lizette Parkes as the title character. When the Plimmer–Denniston company first performed the play, Valentine Sidney had taken the role of Mrs Torrens.

    The drama enjoyed a highly successful season in Sydney, playing until Wednesday, 1 November.

    The final two nights of the season, 2 and 3 November, saw a revival of A.W. Pinero’s drama The Second Mrs Tanqueray, with Florence Brough as Paula, so her legions of fans were given an opportunity to see her in her most famous role. She had created the part in the first Australian production in 1894 when it was staged under the auspices of the Brough-Boucicault Comedy Company. Supporting roles in the current production were played by Harry Plimmer (Aubrey Tanqueray), Reynolds Denniston (Captain Ardale), Lizette Parkes (Ellean) and Beatrice Day (Mrs Cortelyon).

    When Plimmer and Denniston and the Nobody’s Daughter company departed for Queensland, Allan Hamilton stayed on, introducing a new dramatic combination. This new company comprised many old favourites including Beatrice Holloway (making her reappearance in Sydney after her illness), Charles Brown, Robert Greig, and Katie Towers, along with two newcomers, Kenneth Brampton and Lilian Lloyd. The former would go on to have a long career in Australia.

    The season commenced, on Saturday, 4 November 1911, with a revival of Beauty and the Barge. This piece, a comedy by W.W. Jacobs and Louis N. Parker, was another play from the repertoire of the Brough-Boucicault Comedy Company, having first been performed by them in Australia in 1905. The heartfelt story of a young woman who seeks the assistance of an old bargee in her quest to run away from her domineering father and an arranged marriage, the play had originally been seen in London in 1904 with Jessie Bateman as Ethel Smedley and Cyril Maude as Captain Barley. In Australia, the roles were created by Winifred Fraser and Robert Brough. For the current production, Beatrice Holloway played Ethel Smedley with Charles Brown as Captain Barley. Advertisements also announced that ‘The ORIGINAL BARGE, specially built at the Haymarket Theatre, London, for the late Mr Robert Brough, will be used in this production’. However, resident scenic artist, Harry Whaite, provided entirely new scenery.

    A fortnight later a change of bill saw the reprisal of Why Men Love Women open on 18 November. It was last seen at the Palace in October 1910 when it was performed by the Hamilton–Maxwell company. Katie Towers and Muriel Dale revived their original roles of Matilda Figgins and Baby, while the leads were now played by Kenneth Brampton (Gerald Fielding), Beatrice Holloway (Violet Livingston), with Lilian Lloyd as Muriel Zoluski. With the final performance on 1 December, the Allan Hamilton season came to an end.

    With Christmas fast approaching, something of a magical nature was in store for patrons of the Palace.


    To be continued



    1. This play also formed the basis of the musical See You Later by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, with music by Jean Schwartz and William F. Peters, produced at the Academy of Music, Baltimore, April 1918

    2. Fisher & Hardison, p.273

    3. The Age (Melbourne), 30 April 1910, p.16

    4. Titles included: The Girl from Paris (1896), … from Maxim’s (1899), … from Kay’s (1902), … from Up There (1902); and there would be more over the years: … from Brazil, … from Home, … from Montmartre, … from Utah.

    5. The Sun (Sydney), 20 January 1900, p.3

    6. The Sun (Sydney), 28 January 1911, p. 10

    7. Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 25 February 1911, p.2

    8. The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 March 1911, p.2 (ad) and 27 March 1911, p. 4 (review)

    9. The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 April 1911, p.5

    10. The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 April 1911, p.12

    11. For more information see Pike & Cooper, p.21

    12. For more information, see Tom Liddiard/Liddiard’s Lilliputians, Australian Variety Theatre Archive (ozvta), 2018

    13. Both Ancestry and Wikipedia erroneously state that Roy Redgrave deserted his wife, Daisy Scudamore, in England in 1909.

    14. Allen, p.256

    15. For more information see Pike & Cooper, pp.39–40


    Vivien Allen, Hall Caine: Portrait of a Victorian romancer, Sheffield Academic Press, 1997

    James Fisher & Felicia Hardison Londré, Historical Dictionary of American Theatre: Modernism, 2nd edition, Rowman & Littlefield, 2017

    Thomas Hischak, Broadway Plays and Musicals: Descriptions and essential facts of more than 14,000 shows through 2007, McFarland & Co. Inc., 2009

    Eric Irvin, Australian melodrama: Eighty years of popular theatre, Hale & Iremonger, 1981

    Allardyce Nicoll, English Drama 1900–1930: The beginnings of the modern period, Cambridge University Press, 1973

    Andrew Pike & Ross Cooper, Australian Film, 1900–1977, Oxford University Press in association with The Australian Film Institute, 1980

    J.P. Wearing, The London Stage, 19001909: A calendar of productions, performers, and personnel, 2nd edition, Rowman & Littlefield, 2014

    J.P. Wearing, The London Stage, 19101919: A calendar of productions, performers, and personnel, 2nd edition, Rowman & Littlefield, 2014


    TheAge (Melbourne), The Bulletin (Sydney), The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), The Sun (Sydney), The Sydney Morning Herald

    Trove, https://trove.nla.gov.au/


    Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections

    National Library of Australia, Canberra

    State Library Victoria, Melbourne

    With thanks to

    Rob Morrison