The Beginnings

 

The Prince’s Theatre, Park Row, Bristol began life as the Theatre Royal. In 1866 John Henry Chute bought the site on the South side of Park row-formerly an old mansion known as “The Engineers House”. The estimated cost of his completed theatre was between £12,000 and £18,000, and it opened its doors on October 14th, 1867. with a production of “The Tempest”.

 

Chute was married to Emily Mazzarine Macready, the half sister of the famous tragedian, and their sons James Macready Chute and George Macready Chute were later to inherit the running of the building along with their mother.

 

When the “Royal” opened it boasted a stage 107’ across, and a seating capacity of 2,100- at one time extended to 2,800 seats. Chute lavished every new invention and luxury on his building, and within a year was staving off bankruptcy.

 

From the beginnings the biggest financial success for the theatre was the annual pantomime- beginning with “Aladdin” in 1867 and continuing virtually unbroken through until 1940- a total of 72 productions over as many years, making the Prince’s Theatre Pantomime one of the premier pantomime houses in the country.

 

Disaster at the pantomime

Exterior of theatre, 1869

 

The story of the Prince’s Pantomimes was almost doomed from its early beginnings- the third pantomime- “Robinson Crusoe” opened on Boxing Night 1869. When Chute had his theatre built the pavements and entrances on Park row sloped towards the building. A huge crowd began to form to await the doors opening on the first night of the pantomime.

 

The pit and gallery queues had built up in the enclosed space as the doors were opened, and, in the rush to get inside, the back of the crowd surged forward. The result was the people at the front were trampled on, and between 14 and 18 people were killed, with over 40 injured.

 

MATCHAM REFURBISHES

 

Aa a result of this disaster Chute implemented safety precautions, ones that Frank Matchum, architect of the later refurbishment was to keep in mind in all his buildings. It had a devastating effect on Chute both emotionally and financially. It was his sons James and George who restructured the seating at the theatre, and installed a plush new refreshment room, finally renaming the theatre “The Prince’s” in 1884. The stage was relaid, and the theatre played host to major touring companies like the D’Oyly Carte, and Henry Irving.

 

Pantomime continued to flourish at the “Prince’s” after the death of George M Chute in 1888, now run by his brother James (“Jimmy Chute”) and his wife, Abigail. Abigail fostered a good relationship with many major theatrical figures, and was a close friend of Ellen Terry- this friendly relationship ensured the major stars played the “Prince’s”

 

The leading architect Frank Matcham redecorated the theatre throughout in 1889,with electric lighting added in 1895.

 

The second Frank Matcham refurbishment was in 1902, and the theatre re-opened with “Merry England” on Coronation day, 1902. It was now the most lavish provincial theatre hosting the finest pantomimes. In 1907 a new ventilation system was installed making it one of the grandest and most comfortable of provincial venues.

 

PANTOMIMES

 

However, there was the occasional problem in the auditorium- students were often blamed for rowdy behaviour in the gallery. In 1888 the last night of “Babes In The Wood” on 18th February the performance was spoiled by the antics of a group in the gallery who shouted down the manager, threw squibs onto the stage during the ballet, and hurled dried peas at the actresses. The rabble rousers turned out to be in the form of one solicitor, one traveller, three medical and three law students, and the leading members of the three local football clubs!

 

During this period the esteemed designer Charles Wilhelm was the costume designer for the Prince’s pantomimes between 1882-1886.

 

In 1896 the pantomime took a departure from it’s usual format of Pantomime followed by a short Harlequinade with the introduction of a series of “interest” films shown at the conclusion of the pantomime. The age of cinematography was dawning, one that was later to return and bite the hand that fed it.

 

In 1912 “Jimmy” Chute died, and the Prince’s became for the first time a limited company. The day to day running of the building was left in the hands of Mrs Chute- the widow of “Jimmy” and her co-director, John Hart. The days of  staging the finest “In House” plays and musicals were waning, and the future of the Prince’s as a play house were numbered. More and more touring productions were engaged, and more than ever the pantomime revenue was needed to support the theatre. By the time Mrs Chute and Hart were in charge the Theatre’s year consisted of 18 weeks Musicals, 10 weeks comedies, 2 weeks of drama and 11 weeks of Pantomime.

 

CINEMA

 

During their tenure, the Prince’s was to face competition from the popular vogue for the cinema. All around the theatre cinemas began to spring up- in the 1930’s over six cinemas were within walking distance, and the Prince’s was facing growing competition from the Coliseum and the Hippodrome. Films were damaging the income needed to keep the larger Prince’s Theatre afloat.

 

VARIETY

 

Mrs Chute died in 1931, and Hart continued to run the theatre until 1936. The new manager, Tommy Hicksons was forced to turn the building into a variety house- the license was applied for the previous year, and the theatre began to suffer from a loss of revenue and was in need of refurbishment and redecoration.

 

THE FINALE

 

With the outbreak of World War Two  Bristol became a chief target for the bombs that were falling in the area of the Bristol channel. It was the fifth most heavily bombed city in Britain. The BBC transferred many of its departments to Bristol, as London was taking the brunt of the Blitz. The popular wartime radio programme “ITMA” (It’s That Man Again”) starring Tommy Handley was broadcast from Clifton Parish Hall in Bristol throughout this period.

 

On the 2nd November 1940 a severe bombing raid destroyed or damaged over 10,000 houses, with much loss of life.

 

On the night of 24th November 1940 the centre of Bristol suffered heavy bombing raids, and the Prince’s Theatre, along with the Coliseum were totally destroyed.

 

Chute’s grand palace of culture and entertainment was reduced to rubble. After the war it was intended that the Prince’s would rise from the ashes, but in 1954 Stoll Theatres sold off a large portion of the site intended for the “New Prince’s”, and it became obvious that the Park Row theatre would never be rebuilt.

 

PRINCE’S THEATRE BRISTOL

PANTOMIMES 1867-1939

 

1867-68           ALADDIN

1868-69           Field Of The Cloth Of Gold

1869-70           ROBINSON CRUSOE

1870-71           FORTY THIEVES

1871-72           DICK WHITTINGTON

1872-73           TOM THUMB

1873-74           Valentine and Orson

1874-75           RED RIDING HOOD

1875-76           LITTLE CINDERELLA

1876-77           BABES IN THE WOOD

1877-78           BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

1878-79           HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT

1879-80           SINBAD THE SAILOR

1880-81           JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

1881-82           ALADDIN

1882-83           DICK WHITTINGTON

1883-84           CINDERELLA

1884-85           FORTY THIEVES

1885-86           RED RIDING HOOD

1886-87           SINBAD THE SAILOR

1887-88           BABES IN THE WOOD

1888-89           ROBINSON CRUSOE

1889-90           SWEET CINDERELLA

1890-91           ALADDIN

1891-92           DICK WHITTINGTON

1892-93           BABES IN THE WOOD

1893-94           FORTY THIEVES

1894-95           LITTLE BO-PEEP

1895-96           CINDERELLA

1896-97           ROBINSON CRUSOE

1897-98           RED RIDING HOOD

1898-99           SINBAD THE SAILOR

1899-00           ALADDIN

Harry Claff as 'Pi-Krust'

A. W. Clark as Aladdin

The Chorus and Dancers

1900-01           DICK WHITTINGTON

1901-02           BABES IN THE WOOD

1902-03           CINDERELLA         

Nora Brocklebank, Will Evans (as Peter The Page-the name “Buttons” was still not universal), Edgar Granville & Stephen Adeson as the Ugly Sisters, John Humphries as Baron.

 

Will Evans, eccentric comedian performed in pantomime from a young age, and appeared on the halls in 1890. His most famous solo sketches were” Papering A House” and “Whitewashing A Ceiling”. He died in 1931 aged sixty-four.

 

A copy of the programme can be found at http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/Bristol/PrincesProg.htm

1903-04           PUSS IN BOOTS

1904-05           THE SLEEPING BEAUTY

1905-06           MOTHER GOOSE

Lily Morris (as Colin), Wilkie Bard (as Mother Goose)

 

 

1906-07           HUMPTY DUMPTY

Horace Mills, Olive Crellin, Carlton (The Human Hairpin)

 

1907-08           JACK AND JILL     

Lily Morris, (Principal Boy) Nipper Lupino Lane, Mabel Russell, Geo. Miller, Tom E Murray

 

Mabel Russell

Lily Morris, born in 1884 made her first appearance in pantomime as a child in 1894, becoming a famous principal boy, and singer of character songs such as “Why Am I Always The Bridesmaid” in the 1920’s. She died in 1952 aged sixty-eight.

 

 

“Nipper” Lupino Lane was one of the Lupino dynasty of performers who had first appeared in this country during the reign of James II, and continued through to variety and eventually Hollywood. He became famous for creating the role of Bill in “Me and My Girl”, introducing London to “The Lambeth Walk”. 

1908-09           ALADDIN

           

Bransby Williams, Daisy Wood, Ouida McDermott, Topsy Sinden, WH Powell, Winnie Chapman, Ethel Brookland

 

Bransby Williams was the star of Music Hall famous for his character parts and recitations. He began impersonating famous actors in 1896.His most famous recitation being “The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God”, much parodied. He died in 1961 aged ninety-one.

 

 

Daisy Wood was the sister of Marie Lloyd, who first appeared “on the Halls” in 1891. She also died in 1961 aged eighty-four.

 

Ouida McDermott was the daughter of G.H.McDermott, the first star of the Music Hall to be engaged for Pantomime. It was his success in “Bluebeard” (1871) that led to the influx of Music Hall stars into pantomime thereafter. Ouida was a popular Principal Boy.

 

Topsy Sinden was a well-known skirt dancer in her day and did a lot of pantomime. First appeared on stage at age six in "Dick Whittington" - mid-1880s - and after taking some time off she seems to have retired sometime in the 1930's. She played "Yu Bu Tee" in Aladdin. We are very grateful to Anne Gilhuly for this information and the images.

Further information is available from John Culme's Footlight Notes site by following this link.

 

The Chorus and Dancers, Winnie Chapman, Ethel Brookland

1909-10           MOTHER HUBBARD

G.H.Elliott, Fred Conquest, Lulu Valli (P.Boy) Alice Pollard (P.Girl), Sydney Fairbrother, Charles Harvey, Minnie Gardner

 

 

G.H.Elliott was a headliner in Music Hall, and his minstrel act in immaculate frock coat and top hat  introduced songs like “I Used to sigh for the Silvery Moon” and “Lily Of Laguna” which he reintroduced after it’s success sung by Eugene Stratton. He first appeared in London in 1902, and lived until 1962 dying at the age of seventy-nine.

 

The Chorus and Dancers

 

Minnie Gardner

1910-11           JACK HORNER

Winifred Ward (Jack Horner), Ernie Mayne (The Prince of Hearts), Albert Le Fre (Simple Simon), Esta Stella (Charity), Fred Allandale (The Knave of Hearts), Sam Poluski Jnr (Teddy), Alfred Wellesley (The Queen of Hearts), Charles MacNaughton (The King of Hearts), Doris Dean (The Princess of Hearts), David Fisher Jnr (The Pieman), Marion Edwardes (Verita), Ernest G Hay (Perjurus), Little Irene Le Fre (Colleen), Master Percy Mayne (Boy Scout).

Fred Allandale, Doris Dean, Esta Stella

Ernest Hay, Albert Le Fre and Percy Mayne

 1911-12           JACK AND THE BEANSTALK     

Daisy Wood, Harry Rose, Horace Mills, Daisy Stratton, Daisy May, Jay Laurier, George Lake Grange, Eleanor Wilson, John Walker

 

Daisy Wood

Horace Mills

The Company

 1912-13           DICK WHITTINGTON       

Winifred Ward (P.Boy) Tom Conway, Fame & Fortune, Nora Guy, William Pringle, George French, Ethel Hall

 

Winifred Ward

 

*Rumours were spreading the male Principal Boy might be introduced more often in pantomime. Winifred Ward comments: “I don’t think there are enough “Pretty Gentlemen” to fill the parts for the numerous theatres in England, so I think “The Girls” still stand a good chance. Anyway, I’m not afraid!”

 1913-14           ROBINSON CRUSOE

Nellie Taylor (P.Boy),  W.H.Rawlins, Dorothy Craske, Harry Dent, Harry West, W.H.Powell, Harry Rignold, Aston Bros.

Dorothy Craske

Harry Rignold

1914-15           HUMPTY DUMPTY

Handbill and Maud Darling

 

Dorothy Ward, Shaun Glenville, Rowland Hill, Maud Darling

 

Shaun Glenville and Dorothy Ward

 

We are very grateful to David Hartshorne for supplying us with a scan of this programme

 

Maud Darling

This picture is supplied by and appears by kind permission of Len Darling

1915-16           GOODY TWO SHOES

Sybil Arundale (P.Boy) Lupino Lane, Sam Walsh, Horace Mills, Dolly Booth, Margaret Kean, Doris Lind.

1916-17           CINDERELLA

Jack Pleasants, Louie Beckman, Dolly Harmer, Queenie Gwyn, Edith Heron Brown, W.M.Brough, J.F. McArdle

 

Jack Pleasants, the Yorkshire comedian first appeared in 1901- His comedy songs made him famous, including “I’m Twenty-One Today”, and “I’m Shy Mary Ellen, I’m Shy”. He died in 1924 aged forty-nine.

 1917-18           OLD KING COLE

George Miller (Dame) Beatrice Allen, Renee Reel, Arnold Richardson, W.T.Thompson, Elsie Cowie, Queen & Le Brun, Frank Haytor, George Elliston

1918-19           SINBAD        

Daisy Wood, Albert Le Fre, Beatrice Hunt, William Stephens, Murielle Langley, Mewse & Singer, Edward Lewis, John Morley

 1919-20           MOTHER GOOSE

Fred Wright, Jack Lennol, Madge White, Lily Eyton, Fred Conquest, J.H. Wakefield, W.T.Thompson, Peggy Shannon, Doree Thorne, Mirabelle Wear, Cedric Forbes, Eric Marshall

Madge White

Fred Wright, Lily Eyton

 1920-21           TOM TOM THE PIPER’S SON

Hal Bert, Violet Vernon, Angus Strong, W.S.Percy, Edgar Marriott, Lila Wood, Hilda Simpson, Nevill Delmar, Lawrence Caird, Pamela Lindley, Katie Kay, George Ali

 1921-22           ALADDIN

Horace Mills (Dame) Renee Reel, Elsie May, J.H.Wakefield, Jack Mayne, Mia Sylva, Jack Tregale, Dolly Stevens, Terry Twins, Phil & Phlora, Kit Keen, Edith Pearson

Elsie May

 1922-23           JACK AND JILL     

Dan Leno Jnr, Barry Lupino, Madge White, Ivor Vintor, Peggy Shannon, C.Dawson Hodder, Eileen Scott, Queen & Le Brun, Katrina & Joan, Jack Lennol, Doris Evans.

Dan Leno Jnr

 

This particular year the Lupino family were in the West, with Barry (The son of George Lupino) in Bristol, and Stanley and Wallace in Cardiff. Mark Lupino was at the London Hippodrome.Barry (1882-1962) was to become a fine pantomime Dame. The Prince’s Theatre received stiff competition this year from the Bristol Empire Pantomime.

 

Dan Leno Jnr (Top Left), Barry Lupino (Bottom Left), Ivor Vintor (Top Right), C. Dawson Hodder (Bottom Right)

 1923-24           KING OF THE GOLDEN MOUNTAIN    

Marriott Edgar (Dame) Hilda Newsome, Teddy Brogden John Murray Stewart, Rennee Mayer, Dick Evans, Freda & Zelda Jensen, Henry Carter, Doris Bransgrove, The Bounders, Thea Blair.

 

Marriott Edgar, Dick Evans

 1924-25           GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

Johnny Scholfield Jnr, Horace Mills (Dame), Dorothy Leigh, Irene Wisher, Kit Keen, Beryl Lesley.

Horace Mills - Dorothy Leigh

1925-26           ROBINSON CRUSOE

Arnold Richardson, Teddy Brogden, Moya Nugent ,Stephanie Stevens, Walter Outhwaite, Doffe Woodhill, Larola, Eileen Goodall, Benson Kleve, Devere & Welbo, Kenna Brothers, Hero DeRance, Rob Gilmore

Arnold Richardson, Teddy Brogden, Moya Nugent (top to bottom)

 

The number of picture houses in the area increased, with added competition for the pantomime season, as well as a strong pantomime at the Bristol Royal that year.

1926-27           THE FORTY THIEVES

Tom D Newell, Mariott Edgar (Dame), Dot Temple, The Sisters St.Vincent , Gaby Joyce, Sylvia Cecil.

 

The competition from the “Royal” that year included the young George Lacy, later to become one of the foremost Dames of his generation.

1927-28           HUMPTY DUMPTY

Jane Ayr, Johnny Schofield, Dick Evans

 

Mona Vivian, Jack Stanley, Johnny Schofield, Jane Ayr, Dick Evans William Thompson, Renee & Godfrey, Fred Holt, Mollie Melvin, Lutie and the Brothers Griffiths.

 

This season the star was the popular Mona Vivian- a former child star as “Wee Mona”,at this time one of the most popular Principal Boy’s of the time, and a favourite in West End Revue. (See the Wee Mona Article on this site)

 

Also on the bill were Lutie and the Brothers Griffiths. They performed a variety and pantomime act “The Blondin Donkey Act”, with the brothers who performed as “skin” or animal artistes. They also created “Miss Lutie with Pogo the Performing Horse” which they toured around the country.

1928-29           HOP O’MY THUMB

Ivor Vinter, George Lacy, Kathie Lyn, Annie Kasmir, Jeannie Hartley, Charles Heslop, Jack Martlell.

 

Kathie Lyn, Jennie Hartley, Ivor Vintner, George Lacy

 

In the Autumn of this year both Daisy Wood and Horace Mills- former stars of the Prince’s (they both appeared here in the 1911 pantomime) both announced their retirement from the stage.

1929-30           THE QUEEN OF HEARTS

Clarkson Rose (Queen of Hearts), Olive Fox (P.Boy), Eileen Fowler, Jack Lennol, Fred Wynne, The Verdras, Athol Tier, Bryn Gwyn.

Clarkson Rose, Bryn Gwyn, Eileen Fowler

 

The stars of this pantomime were husband and wife- Clarkson Rose and the Principal Boy, Olive Fox. They married in 1918. Rose (1890-1968) was a principal comedian who graduated from concert party, producing his own long running show “Twinkle”. He had first played dame two years previously, and was later to become Dame for the Melville Brothers at the Lyceum (1936-38). The year before this engagement he had appeared in a Royal Command Performance as Dame. He gave his last pantomime performance in 1967, the year before he died.

Olive Fox

1930-31           GOODY TWO SHOES                    

Dick Evans, Betty Warren, Fred Holt, Cecile Maule Cole , J.H.Wakefield, Nina Crosley, George Wellford, Norman Griffin.

1931-32           CINDERELLA

 

Written by Philip Rodway, Directed by John Hart, Composed by Harry Rushworth

Dick Tubb, Eileen Fowler, Babette O'Neal

 

Dick Tubb, Violet Field, Percy Le Fre, Babette O’Neal, Laurie Howe, Eileen Fowler, Alfred Jepson, Smarte Bros, Mary Nightingale, Vera Savina, C Douglas Cox, Fred Hastings, Joy Snell

Violet Field, Percy Le Fre and Alfred Jepson

 

Eileen Fowler

We are grateful to Michael Crew and to The Crew Archive for this Photo, used with permission 

1932-33           ROBINSON CRUSOE

 

Written by Philip Rodway

Mona Vivian, Tommy Nelldon, Rosamund Belmore, Marriot Edgar, Flet Mears, Barry Lupino, Sybil Roe, Mary Skeaping

 

1933-34           MOTHER GOOSE

 

Written by J Hickory Wood, Directed by Francis Laidler, Composed by Edwin Thornton

 

Walter Amner, Audrey Ball, Victor Eynsford, Eileen Fowler, George Lacy, Flora Macdonald, Richard Milner, Marie Picquart, George Queen, Angus Strong

We are very grateful to the University of Bristol Theatre Collection for this information.

 

 

1934-35           DICK WHITTINGTON

 

Written by Francis Laidler

 

Hart Athol, Mamie Holland, Wilbur Lenton, Anne Leslie, Isabel Merson, Bonnie Roberts, Mona Vivian. We are very grateful to the University of Bristol Theatre Collection for this information.

 

1935-36           BABES IN THE WOOD

 

1936-37           ALADDIN

 

          Jean Colin, Leslie Strange, Connie Graham, Monti Ryan, S. Griffiths-Moss, Norah & Peg St. John, Leslie Noyes & Dorothy Dee, Kiraki Bros., Eddie Black, Victor King, The J. Sherman-Fisher Girls, Francis Laidler's 12 Little Sunbeams

 

Click on Images to Enlarge

 

We are grateful to Michael Crew and to The Crew Archive for this Photo, used with permission

 

We are grateful to Michael Crew and to The Crew Archive for this Photo, used with permission

The Pantomime Ball - 1936

We are grateful to Michael Crew and to The Crew Archive for this Photo, used with permission

Leslie Stranger, St Johns, The Kiraku Brothers, Jean Colin, Connie Graham

 

1937-38           CINDERELLA

 

Written and Directed by Francis Laidler

George Baines, Peggy Bedell, Joan Cole, Jack Hayes, Charlie Jass, Wendy Elliott, Phil Strickland, Jay Galvin, Phyllis Godden, Victor King, Ron Rich

 

The Laidler Sunbeams

Click on image to enlarge

We are grateful to Ann Brooks for these two press cuttings and Carol Bellard-Thomson for the Cast Information

 

We are grateful to Michael Crew and to The Crew Archive for this Photo, used with permission

The Pantomime Ball - 1937 

 

 

1938-39           JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

 

 Written by Randolph Sutton Directed by Francis Laidler

Norman Evans, Jean Colin, Jack Barty, Joyce Winn, Howard Rogers, Marie Delaine, Percy Garside, The Lennox Sisters, De Suter Bros, Shanks Bros, Marion Gerth, J Murray Stewart, Kirby’s Flying Ballet, The Twelve J Sherman-Fisher Firls, The 12 Little Sunbeams.

 

This pantomime starred one of the finest dames- Norman Evans, who created the gossiping Fanny Fairbottom “Over The Garden Wall”. Born in 1901, he was discovered by Gracie Fields, and toured in her husband’s revue “Mr Tower Of London” three years previously sharing top billing with Betty Driver- now known to millions as Betty Turpin in “Coronation Street”.At the time of this panto he had done the first of three Command performances, and by the time of his death in 1962 he had achieved everything a great comedian could desire.

 

Manager of the Theatre

Percy Garside, Joseph Kirby, Shanks Bros, De Suter Brothers

Jack Barty, Jean Colin, Francis Laidlers 'Little Sunbeams'

We are grateful to Michael Crew and to The Crew Archive for this Photo, used with permission

The Pantomime Ball - 1938 

 

We are grateful to Michael Crew and to The Crew Archive for this Photo, used with permission

Marion Gerth and Jean Colin

 

1939 - 40     RED RIDING HOOD (The Last Pantomime at the Princes)

We are grateful to Ann Brooks for this information.

 

        Written and directed by Francis Laidler - Composed by Norman Brooks

 

        Jean Colin, Bunny Doyle, Madge Escolme, Percy Garside, Richard Hassett, Arthur Hosking, Rosalind Melville, Tommy Prior, Billy Purvis, Mavis Ray, The Robinson Twins (Daisy and Rose)

 

 

We are grateful to Ralph, Daisy Robinson's son-in-law, for this handbill. He informed us that Rose died in 2006 and Daisy on the 27th September 2009 in New Zealand. The family are looking for more information about The Robinson Twins, please email the site if you have any.

 

We are grateful to Michael Crew and to The Crew Archive for this Photo, used with permission

The Pantomime Ball - 1939

 

We are grateful to Michael Crew and to The Crew Archive for this Photo, used with permission

Richard Hassett

 

1940     HUMPTY DUMPTY (The Pantomime That Wasn't to Be)

We are grateful to Michael Crew for the article and to The Crew Archive for the Photos, used with permission

Mike Crew - The Prince’s Theatre Bristol was managed by a Mr. Hickson during the 1930’s-‘40’s. Mike Crew’s Father, Fred worked there as Commissionaire, Driver and Hickson’s right hand man. In his day to day job  he welcomed artistes to the theatre on a weekly basis. Around 1936-37 Fred’s wife Ivy joined the theatre in the Box Office and was responsible for posters and publicity.

Despite the war, the 1940 panto season at the Prince’s went ahead as usual.  Humpty Dumpty was due to open on Christmas Eve.  Publicity material started arriving in early November and the staff were excited to learn which old favourites would be returning and which of the new stars would be coming to Bristol.  They were also treated to photos of scenes from the previous years performance of Humpty Dumpty at Liverpool.

Scenes from Humpty Dumpty from Liverpool 1939/40 - Snowland and Port Omelette

 

The production was to be under the control of impresario Emile Littler and was a follow up to the successful Humpty Dumpty at the Royal Court at Liverpool the previous year.

Emile Littler

 

Charles Olden, better known as Ted Ray, the accomplished violinist and comedian was to play the part of King Yolk.

 

Ted Ray

 

Bobbie Comber, an old favourite was to be Agatha Applepip who may have appeared at Liverpool the previous year.

 

Bobbie Comber / Agatha Applepip

 

The attractive Edna Wood was Princess Marigold and the equally attractive Margery Wyn was Prince Rupert.

Edna Wood and Margery Wyn

 

De Haven and Page were the equivalent of the ugly sisters in the parts of Count Nine and Count Ninety

De Haven and Page

 

Ernest Arnley was to play the part of Shrimps, the King’s secretary.  The part he had played at the King’s Theatre Edinburgh in 1939/40

Ernest Arnley

 

Who was to play Humpty Dumpty remains a mystery. 

 

It is likely that Archies Juvenile Band were also to be involved possibly as themselves during scene changing.  They may have appeared earlier that year at Birmingham.

Archies Juvenile Band

 

Normally Ivy or Fred Crew would persuade each performer to autograph the publicity photos and sign Ivy’s autograph book.  The Photos were then taken home and added to Ivy’s collection whereas the autograph book remained in the theatre.

 

 It is possible that the publicity material for this panto had been taken from the theatre to determine which were to be used by the local papers, as one of the photo’s of Comber has Ivy’s handwritten instructions regarding the use of this photo. Whatever the reason, the outcome was that this unique collection was saved whereas Ivy and Fred had to watch the Prince’s burn down with the autograph book inside.

 

 The book contained autographs of virtually every performer at the Prince’s for the previous seven years together with the usual comments made by the stars.

 

Nigel and Simon at its-behind-you.com would be delighted to receive any additional information regarding both the Prince’s Theatre Bristol, and the playlist of pantomimes. In particular we would like to fill in the cast list for the “missing year” on our list 1935.

 

If you have any information to add to this article, please send it to the site via info@its-behind-you.com

This page was last updated 28th July 2011

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