THE IMPRESARIOS

WYLIE - TATE

Julian Wylie 1878 - 1934

James W. Tate 1875 - 1922

Julian Wylie 1878-1934

A large & enthusiastic north countryman from Southport, he was born: Julian Ulrich Mettenberg Samuelson.

One of his brothers (possibly named Bertie) dabbled in  motor transport, cheap lending libraries & films..the other – Lauri-went into Theatre where he acted & wrote the books of Musical Comedies. Lauri was asked to join the Wylie-Tate company as a writer in the early years .

Julian’s talent lay in management: He married a lady much older than himself with a small son- both of who he adored. She lent him the only capital he possessed- one pound. He launched himself on London. He first established himself as the manager to the magician David Devant. Soon he was repaying his wife back with interest. He began to act as agent for a number of leading variety artistes.

“Tremenjus! Tremenjus” was his favourite expression of approval. Wylie saw Clarice Mayne & That, performing on the major Music Hall circuit and formed a partnership with J.W.Tate. They began to specialize in pantomime  and revue. Their first co-production was “I Should Worry” at the Palace Theatre, August 1913 Wylie and Tate concentrated on pantomime after the first World War, and continued through into the1920’s and1930’s.It was chiefly through the passion and skill that Julian Wylie had for creating pantomimes that pantomime was briefly restored at Drury Lane 1n 1929.

Lighting in particular absorbed him, and he always wrote out the lighting plot himself with meticulous attention.

Wylie’s rages were titanic: If the slightest hitch occurred he would hide his face in his hands and moan that he was ruined. Then the problem came right, his smile returned, and all was “tremenjus!”

Wylie and Tate set up their offices at: 125 Shaftesbury Avenue WC2, later transferring to Oxford Street.

Wylie was a very nervous personality. Eventually, like some before him, and some that followed him he  Known as The King of pantomime. He loved pantomime and by the end of his career had produced a hundred gorgeous examples of it. He never took to drink- he took to Ice-Cream. Buckets of it- during an opening night he would get through 6 cartons of gooey vanilla.

The sudden death of his partner during the run of Jack and the Beanstalk on 5th February 1922 saddened him deeply. The two men had been very different in character. Tate’s bland & genial personality enabled him to mix smoothly with everyone he met. Wylie looked at the world through suspicious eyes, and worn a carapace of belligerence that concealed a profound sense of inferiority.

Yet the partnership flourished. Wylie cherished Tate’s name and always insisted on including as much of his music as possible when he mounted a pantomime.

(James Harding George Robey & The Music Hall 1990.)

James W. Tate 1875-1922

James W Tate was born in Wolverhampton 1875. His first marriage was to Lottie Collins, and his second in 1912 to Clarice Mayne.

Clarice Mayne

Originally intended for the church, he received early music tuition from his father, composing his first piece at the age of ten. In 1892 he went to the USA returning in 1897 to take up the appointment of musical director for the Carl Rosa Opera Company, and later as Musical Director at Wyndhams Theatre. His younger sister was the distinguished soprano Maggie Teyte.

Among his compositions: “The rain came Pitter Patter Down”, “A Tiny Seed”, “A Broken Doll”, “Every Little While”, composing songs for the leading variety artistes of the day. He subsequently toured with his wife as accompanist in her variety act “Clarice Mayne and That” as “That”. In 1916 he was part composer of “The Maid Of The Mountains”, and wrote the music for musicals and revues such as “Some” (1916), “The Lads Of The Village” (1917) “The Follies of 1919” and “The Peep Show” in 1921.

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Clarice Mayne and 'That' (James W Tate)

CLIP 1 - I Was A Good Little Girl, 'Till I Met You (1912)

CLIP 2 - Mr and Mrs Smith (1911)

 

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A selection of the Wylie-Tate Revues & Musicals

1913 “I Should Worry” Palace Theatre

1914 “A Year In An Hour”- touring

1915 “The Passing Show” & “Kiss Me Sergeant”

1918 “The Passing Show of 1918”  “Any Lady”

1919 “The Passing Show of 1919”, “The Follies of 1919”, & “Mr Manhattan”

1920 “The Whirl Of Today”, “The Passing Show of 1920”, “ Follies of 1920”

1921 “The Peep Show” at the London Hippodrome

          “The Passing Show of 1921”- touring, “Follies of 1921”,

          “The Garden Of Allah” 1921- touring

1922 “Round In Fifty” at the London Hippodrome

1923 “Brighter London” London Hippodrome

1924 “Leap Year” at Manchester Palace, “Brighter London” the Alhambra Glasgow, “Mr Tickle M.P, “Who’s My Father”.

1925 “Better Days”’ Hippodrome, “ and as above on tour.

1926 “Turned Up” at The New Oxford London, “Flyaway Peter”, Revue with Sophie Tucker, Summer Seasons: Blackpool, Douglas, Bridlington.

1927 “The Apache” at The London Palladium, “Dancing Mad”, “Turned Up”, “Brighter Blackpool” (on tour) “Brighter London” (on tour)

          “The Circular Tour”- Blackpool, “Gay Dogs”- Touring

1928 “The Yellow Mask”- Carlton

1929 “Mr Cinders” At The Adelphi Theatre

          “The Show Of Shows”- Touring.

1931 “The Good Companions”-His Majesty’s Theatre

          “The Good Companions”- 44th St Theatre, New York

          “The Good Companions” –Kings Theatre, Glasgow

 

During the 1920’s the virtual sole costume designer for Wylie-Tate was Dolly Tree. She created sumptuous costumes for “The Peepshow”, “Brighter London” “Leap Year” and “Better Days” at the Hippodrome, as well as pantomime costumes for “Jack and The Beanstalk” produced almost every year from 1921. She also created costumes for the newly founded film studios around London, including costumes for “Woman to Woman” (1923) a film which heralded the debut of Hitchcock and Balcon. It is possible that Julian Wylies brother may have had some contribution to this and other early silent British films of the time.

The Wylie-Samuelson connection

Intrigued by the photograph (From the London Museum collection) of Julian Wylie sitting on the steps of Worton Hall Studios, I noticed that included in the picture was the founder of Worton Hall Studios- “Bertie” Samuelson.- a pioneer of British film.

Since Julian Wylie was born a Samuelson, and there was a reference to his brother (un-named) “Dabbling” in films and transport in an early reference, I wondered if this “Bertie” Samuelson was his brother.

George Berthold Samuelson (born 1889) and Julian Wylie were both from Southport. In fact there is now a plaque to G.B.Samuelson in Neville Street Southport on the site of his first film hire company (it is currently an amusement arcade). Samuelson had the idea of renting early films to other theatre and cinema managers, enabling them all to change their repertoire of films on a weekly basis.

He went on to found Worton Hall” on the success he achieved with his directorial debut in 1913 of “Sixty Years A Queen” on the life of Queen Victoria whom he much admired. He rented the hall at first, turning it’s 40 rooms (including a ballroom) and 9 acres of land into a studio, Enlarged in 1916, he sold it to “British Super Films” (which he part owned) in 1922.

In 1929 Samuelson finally sold Worton Hall to “British Screen Productions”, and, having achieved considerable fame with his film output, employing top British actors and directors, he continued to direct films as a freelance. “Bertie” Samuelson died in 1947.

I still have yet to confirm the connection with Julian Wylie, but took heart from the fact that G.B.Samuelson’s son, Sydney was a “Wylie-Samuelson”. In fact, Sydney was to become Britain’s first film commissioner in 1991, and was knighted. Sir Sydney Wylie Samuelson is still pioneering British film, and his sons Peter and Marc went into film production, achieving great success with “Tom and Viv” in 1994.

We have recently been advised that the Children's Book of Pantomime published by Collins in 1930, which included a toy theatre, was invented by G.B. (Bertie) Samuelson.

Click on image to see full selection of pictures

If any of our IBY readers can shed any positive proof on my (highly likely!) theory, we would be most grateful! It would appear that the legacy of Bertie Samuelson and Julian Wylie has continued through theatre and into current British film production to this day. In answer to this plea, one of our 'readers' Rabbi Roderick Young supplied us with the following information:-

I read what you wrote about Wylie and his connection to Bertie Samuelson.  They were indeed brothers and they also happened to be the first cousins of my great-grandmother! You asked for info, so here is the story in brief!

Elias Metzenberg (1826-1901) and Henschel Metzenberg (1829-1889) were two brothers who came from the town of Lissa in Prussia (today it is Leszno in Poland). Elias emigrated to Dublin in 1841, Henschel emigrated to London some time later.  Both of them eventually changed their surnames to Samuelson (after their father Samuel Metzenberg).

Elias Samuelson (my great-great grandfather) became a successful tailor and moved to London in 1871. Amongst those whom his shop (on Maddox Street, off Saville Row) dressed was Vesta Tilley.

Henschel Samuelson moved to Southport, Lancs and opened a tobacconists store.  He married Berthe Weile (1855-1918) and they had the following children:

Sydney Samuelson (1876-1878)
Julian Ulric Samuleson (1878-1934)
Maurice Laurence Samuelson (1880-1951)
Rahleen May Samuelson (1886-1950)
George Berthold Samuelson (1889-1947)

Julian was of course Julian Wylie - he chose that surname by anglicising his mother's maiden name.  Maurice Laurence, known as Lauri Samuelson, wrote the famous "Dinner for One" Freddie Frinton/May Warden sketch that is still shown every New Year on German TV.  G.B.Samuelson was, as you rightly state, one of the founders of the British film industry.  G.B had four sons: David, Sydney, Anthony and Michael who ran the Samuelson Lighting Company.  David and Sir Sydney are still alive but Michael and Anthony are no longer with us.  David received an Oscar a few years ago for his contributions to camera and lighting.  Sir Sydney was, as you said, the president of the British Film Institute.

I hope this helps!

Best wishes,

Rabbi Roderick Young

 

The Wylie-Tate pantomimes: 1916-1931

 

The Sunday Chronicle “Pantomime Annuals”, published in Manchester first show an advertisement for the new Wylie-Tate company in the 1916 edition.:1916-17 Cinderella at the Palace Manchester The first Wylie-Tate major pantomime: Clarice Mayne (James Tate’s wife) stars. Clarice had formerly been principal boy for Francis Laidler among others. Now she stars in her husband’s production opposite Harry Weldon.

 

Harry Weldon had become a big star in Music Hall and Variety, and first appeared in London in 1900, coining the catchphrase “S’No Use!” and creating a popular song from it. He had worked in the Fred Karno company where his understudy was none other than Charlie Chaplin.. He worked until he died in 1930 aged forty-nine.

The By line of the Manchester Pantomime tells us that the “Mis-en-scene” is by Julian Wylie, and the music is composed by, and under the direction of Jas. W. Tate (“That”). The “That” referring to Clarice’s billing matter as “Clarice Mayne and “That!”- “This sings, That Plays!”

 

Clarice Mayne & J. W. Tate first appeared at “The Oxford” in 1906. They introduced a number of popular numbers including “I was a Good little girl, ‘till I met You”, and “Put on Your Ta-Ta little Girlie”, written by Tate. Clarice remarried after the death of her husband, and became Mrs Teddy Knox in 1934. She died in 1966 aged seventy-nine.

 

The Same Year (1916)Wylie Tate produced “Dick Whittington” at the Tyne Theatre, Newcastle. The first use of their distinctive “logo” appears in the Pantomime Annuals.

 

The Pantomime starred Lily Morris as Dick, with Fred Whittaker as the Cat, and Jimmie Learmouth as Idle Jack. The Book for this pantomime was written by Julian Wylie’s brother, Lauri Wylie, with music by James Tate. The production was produced by Julian Wylie and Jas. W. Tate (“That”).

 

Lily Morris made her first appearance as a child singer, and grew up to become a popular principal boy. Her famous songs “Don’t have any more Mrs Moore” and “Why Am I Always The Bridesmaid” were created in the 1920’s and brought her lasting fame. She died in 1952 aged sixty-eight.

 

In 1917 Wylie Tate produced “Babes In The Wood” at The Palace Manchester.

 

Their rosta of stars now included the husband and wife team of Dorothy Ward and Shaun Glenville, along with Wee Georgie Wood and Ernie Mayne. Again Lauri Wylie wrote the book (with Clifford Harris), and James Tate wrote the music.

 

Clarice Mayne was playing “boy” at The Royal in Birmingham that year with Billy Merson.

 

 

Wylie Tate also produced “Dick Whittington” at The Alhambra Glasgow that year (1917) with Ella Retford and Harry Weldon, again with Fred Whittaker as cat. Bruce Green played Sarah The Cook.

 

Ella Retford(1886-1962) first appeared as a dancer in 1900, and became popular in revue and pantomime, making hits from songs like “Take me on the flip-flap”, and “Under the Honey Moon Tree”. She continued to play in pantomime until 1949 and died in 1962 aged seventy-six.

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Ella Retford

 

CLIP - Ship Ahoy (1910)

 

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Dorothy Ward: “During my benefit at the Manchester Royal, turns were given by Miss Beth Tate,* Miss Clarice Mayne and Mr J.W Tate. At the end of Beth Tate’s turn I heard a lot of  merriment going on and ran to the wings in time to see her looking very embarrassed with a bottle of whisky in her hand. It had just been handed over the footlights. I was mystified. So was she. A little later J.W. Tate came walking off stage with a gorgeous basket of fruit, smiling all over his face. Then I grasped the situation. The card on which I had written “To Miss Tate, with my love” had been pinned onto Mr Tate’s bottle of whisky, and vice versa. I don’t know which artiste liked me least until explanations were made..” (1919)

*Beth Tate was not a relation of either James or Clarice- billed as “The California Girl” she arrived in London in 1911, and specialised in “saucy” songs sung in a very innocent fashion.

1918 saw Wylie-Tate’s third pantomime at the Palace, Manchester- “Dick Whittington” with Clarice Mayne and Harry Weldon, and Fred Whittaker again as Cat.

 

This year the “competition” at the Prince’s Theatre down the road was a “A Southern Maid”- George Edwarde’s musical starring James Tate’s step-daughter- Jose Collins, and a “Cinderella” at the Theatre Royal starring Cicely Courtneidge and Little Tich. The Gaiety Manchester forsook pantomime for a production of “Alice In Wonderland” starring Hayden Coffin as “The Mad Hatter”.

 

The Wylie-Tate Empire was expanding. This year (1918) they added the Hippodrome Liverpool “Cinderella” starring Mona Vivian (formerly with Laidler) and returned to the Alhambra Glasgow with “Jack and The Beanstalk”  with Dorothy Ward and Shaun Glenville.

 

In addition they added two touring pantomimes- “Dick Whittington” with Harry Angers and Bert Escott and “Jack And Jill” with Thelma Rayne and Peter Pariss.

 

Their offices were now based at 25-27, Oxford Street London.

 

1919-1920

The Palace Manchester’s “Aladdin” was the fourth production at that theatre, this time starring Ella Retford, Lupino Lane and Nelly Wallace.

Nelly Wallace (1870-1948) “The Essence of Eccentricity” appeared after a juvenile career as a solo “turn” in 1903, establishing her own brand of comedy. She was one of the first “female Dames” in pantomime, scoring huge successes with songs like “My Mother said, Always look under the bed” (and to her great sorrow, there was never anyone there..) “Three cheers For the red, white and Blue”, and “I was born on a Friday”.

 

Nellie, in her moth-eaten coat sings in “Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue” of how she has failed to win over the armed forces:

The sailor would nurse me, while smoking his shag,

I’d squeeze him, and call him my Little Blue Bag,

Whenever he looked at my beautiful form

He’d murmer “well, any old port in a storm”

He said to me “Beauty is only skin deep,

And although I must now get afloat,

You may be all right when I come back again

When you’ve moulted and shedded your coat”

She remained working until 1948, still touring with the “Thanks For The Memory” Company.

 

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Nellie Wallace

CLIP - Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue (1920)

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Their production of “Jack and The Beanstalk” now transferred from Glasgow to Liverpool Olympia Theatre, (A Moss Empire) again with Shaun and Dorothy, Jay Laurier and Mabel Harley.

 

Mona Vivian had returned to Francis Laidler to appear in Leeds,  while Harry Weldon remained with Wylie-Tate to star in their production of “Cinderella” (1919) at the Alhambra Glasgow along with Florence Wray, Bert Errol and Winifred Ward.

 

Newcastle Hippodrome (1919) was added to their venues with another “Cinderella” starring Nelly Wigley and Jimmy Learmouth. This year they had no touring pantomimes advertised, perhaps concentrating on their “Big Four” productions instead.

 

1920 marked the appearance of the first Wylie-Tate pantomime in London’s West End. “Aladdin” at the London Hippodrome starred Phyllis Dare, Elsie Prince, Lupino Lane and Nelly Wallace, it brought their pantomime total this year to five productions.

 

Dorothy Ward and Shaun Glenville transferred “Jack and the Beanstalk” to The Palace Manchester, Ella Retford and Harry Weldon  revived their “Dick Whittington” at the Olympia Liverpool, while a new subject “Puss In Boots” at the Alhambra Glasgow starred Clarice Mayne and Billy Merson

 

Billy Merson (1881-1947) a versatile comedian, who first appeared as an acrobat and clown, coming to London in 1905 as “Ping Pong” and became a comedian at “The Oxford” Music Hall in 1909 singing “The Spaniard Who Blighted My Life”. He performed in revue at the London Hippodrome in 1913, scored a further hit with “On The Good Ship Yacki Hicki Doo La” in 1917. He died in 1947 aged sixty-six.

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Billy Merson

CLIP - The Spaniard Who Blighted My Life (1917)

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The Fifth pantomime was “Cinderella” at the Empire, Sheffield , transferred from Newcastle, it starred Nelly Wigley, Jimmy Learmouth, Bert Errol and Daisy Burrel.

 

Ever growing, the following year, 1921 saw Six Wylie-Tate pantomimes- adding Cardiff to their growing empire. The West End production at the London Hippodrome was “Jack and The Beanstalk” starring George Robey and Dorothy Ward, who replaced Clarice Mayne just before the pantomime opened. Despite his huge fame throughout the country, Robey had rarely played pantomime in the capital.

 

RELATED MEDIA - Pathe News 'A Peep at the Pantomime'

Jack and the Beanstalk - 1921 London Hippodrome

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- alternatively you can download it for free or purchase one with a higher definition from www.britishpathe.com

 

The Palace Manchester 1921 saw “Puss In Boots” with Mona Vivian and Billy Merson,

 

Dorothy WardFresh from her tremendously successful engagement as Principal Lady in “The Peep Show” at the London Hippodrome comes MONA VIVIAN as Colin. This fine artiste may be said to have been on the stage since the cradle, for she appeared in pantomime at the age of 5 as “Wee Mona”. She became a Principal Girl when 13, and at 15 Principal Boy. She has a collection of nearly 1,000 dolls..”

 

Glasgow Alhambra should have had Shaun Glenville and Dorothy Ward joined by “Wee” Georgie Wood in “Mother Goose. Liverpool but Dorothy's replacement of Clarice Mayne meant she didn't appear. Olympia has “Aladdin” with Nellie Wallace, Annie Croft and Elsie Prince starring, while the Newcastle Hippodrome had “Dick Whittington” with Daisy Wood and Geo. Bass- Fred Whittaker returning as Cat.( Ella Retford was appearing in America this year) Finally the Empire Cardiff saw “Cinderella” with Stanley Lupino, Nelly Wigley and Daisy Burrell. This cast included Nervo and Knox.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1922. The Death Of James W.Tate

On February 5th 1922 James W. Tate died suddenly, while the pantomimes were still running throughout the country. Julian Wylie was devastated

The unexpected death of his partner saddened him deeply. The two men had been very different in character. Tate’s bland & genial personality enabled him to mix smoothly with everyone he met. Wylie looked at the world through suspicious eyes, and worn a carapace of belligerence that concealed a profound sense of inferiority.

 

Yet the partnership flourished. Wylie cherished Tate’s name and always insisted on including as much of his music as possible when he mounted a pantomime.

(James Harding: George Robey & The Music Hall 1990)

The Cardiff Pantomime that closed shortly after had featured Nervo and Knox, in the years before before they became part of “The Crazy Gang” with Bud Flanagan and Chesney Allen. Teddie Knox was later to become Clarice Mayne’s husband.

 

After the death of his partner, Julian Wylie threw himself into the many productions and schemes that were already mapped out for the year- especially the revue “Round In Fifty” which was to star George Robey. It was a revue based n the Jules Verne novel “Around The World in Eighty Days”.

 

The music was to have been composed by James Tate, but after his death the task fell to Sax Rohmer (born Arthur Ward) who had composed previously for Robey. The show was a great success, And ran for 471 performances. It transferred to the Olympia, Liverpool for the Christmas season

 

As part of the publicity for this production Julian Wylie, in conjunction with Moss Empires, had a special edition of the novel printed. The books were available free of charge to children who applied and included three penny stamps to cover postage and packing. At the back of the book Wylie included some pantomime adverts.

 

Click on the book cover to read Wylie's introduction to this special edition and see some of the adverts

 

Meanwhile Wylie had  a further five pantomimes to prepare now “Under the personal supervision of, and produced by Julian Wylie”, although he always continued to work under the banner of the Wylie-Tate Pantomimes in the future.

 

 

1922 had Dorothy Ward, Shaun Glenville and Georgie Wood transfer to The Palace Manchester-“Mother Goose”, with Fred Conquest playing goose. Clarice Mayne was at The London Hippodrome in “Cinderella”  with Stanley Lupino, while Nelly Wallace appeared with two of the Lupino family- Wallace and Mark in “Aladdin” at the Cardiff Empire.

 

Lily Morris and Jay Laurier appeared for Wylie-Tate at the Empire Sheffield, in “Jack and The Beanstalk” while a new pantomime subject for the company “Queen Of Hearts” at the Alhambra Glasgow starred Mona Vivian and Lupino Lane.

Why Pantomime Survives

By Julian Wylie

Pantomime Annual 1923

 

Every year I am told that pantomime is dying out. Is it?

If pantomime were dying or dead, would about 150 producers in this country risk their money in it every Christmas? I think not. I know I wouldn’t, and I have produced an average of seven pantomimes annually during the past ten years.

 

Nowadays pantomime must be done beautifully and artistically, and have the fairy tale touch about it. Otherwise it cannot be successful. Although these fairy tales are as old as the hills, you must introduce new methods and continually bring them up to date.

 

We regard Christmas pantomime as a purely British institution, and rightly so, for no other nation puts nursery tales on the stage at Christmastime. But most of the tales we dramatise are the common property of all civilized nations, and in their most familiar forms have been borrowed by us from abroad.

 

“BlueBeard”, “Cinderella” and “Tom Thumb” come from France: “Puss In Boots” is from Italy: and “Jack and The Beanstalk” is German. “Aladdin” and “Sinbad The Sailor” belong to the “Arabian Nights”.

 

Apart from “Robinson Crusoe”: not to be classed as a fairy tale, the only stories of pure English origin seem to be “The Babes In The Wood” and “Little Red Riding Hood”. Even so seemingly local a staory as “Dick Whittington” has a parallel in the folklore of ancient Persia!

 

If any proof were needed of the tremendous hold which pantomime has on the popular imagination, it is to be found in the fact that last year saw the production in the United Kingdom of no fewer than 190 pantomimes.

 

The pantomime season always opens earlier in Scotland than in England, so great is the attraction of this form of entertainment. At one Glasgow theatre where one of my pantomimes was running last year, in one week over 24,000 people paid for admission.

 

In cities like Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Birmingham the reign of King Pantomime averages about ten weeks. My “Aladdin” pantomime staged at the London Hippodrome three years ago ran for 17 weeks.

 

When, ten years ago I took up pantomime production on a huge scale, I made up my mind that pantomime in the form it then took had lost its power to attract, and that the time was ripe for a frank return to a coherent story, shaped from fairy literature, and carefully adhered to, however liberally it might be elaborated.

 

Strange to relate, there is a public for pantomime that rarely takes an interest in theatre at other times. Last July I was in the box office of one of our biggest provincial theatres when a man came in and booked 30 seats for Boxing Night. “It doesn’t matter” he said “What pantomime you are going to have, as long as you do have one”.

 

The Box Office keeper said in reply to my enquiry, that even at that early date he had over 300 seats booked for opening week, and the proprietor of the theatre had not yet made up his mind what the pantomime was going to be!

 

There is another and very cogent reason that has much to do with the question “Will pantomime survive?”. Parents love to see and hear their kiddies laugh and enjoy themselves. It makes them feel young and active also. And when can you see and hear this kind of laughter but at Pantomime time?

1923    This year Julian Wylie presented four pantomimes- on his same circuit, but no longer in the West End.

 

The Palace Theatre Manchester-“Cinderella” starred Vera Pearce, George Gregory, and featured Nervo and Knox, The Olympia Liverpool’s “Mother Goose” with Dorothy Ward and Shaun Glenville, The Cardiff Empire had “Queen Of Hearts” with Dick Tubb and Jack Edge, and in Glasgow Alhambra’s “Jack and The Beanstalk” George Robey played the Dame.

 

James Tate’s widow, Clarice Mayne was not appearing for Wylie-Tate pantomimes this year. In 1923 she starred as Dick Whittington” at the London Palladium . Joining her was Nellie Wallace and Harry Weldon. Clarice and Harry had appeared there in pantomime in 1914, at the outbreak of World War One. At that time, in the early days of the war they performed matinees only  at the Palladium. Clarice was to return there again in two years time, in “Cinderella”.

 

A change of direction:

 

 

 

In 1924 there was a slight change of direction. Julian Wylie produced only three pantomimes that season, but expanded his revues to play Christmas Seasons in venues he would previously have used for pantomimes- in the case of Glasgow he now presented “Aladdin” with Nellie Wallace at the Glasgow Theatre Royal, AND “Brighter London” a revue at the Glasgow Alhambra.

 

“Brighter London” featured some of his pantomime stalwarts- Elsie Prince, Jack Edge, Hal Bryan and Lesley Sarony (Later to become more famous as one of the “Two Lesley’s”).

 

In Manchester at the Palace he presented not pantomime, but a revue called “Leap Year” starring Marie Blanche and George Robey for the Christmas period. His other Christmas season revues included “Mr Tickle” M.P which featured the young Betty Jumel (later to team up with Norman Evans in many productions of “Humpty Dumpty” in the 1930’s and 1940’s) and a revue called “Who’s My Father” starring Stanley Lupino.

 

The remaining two pantomimes in 1924 were “Mother Goose” at the London Hippodrome- the team of Glenville, Ward, Georgie Wood (and a company of 120!) featured, and “Puss In Boots” at the Olympia Liverpool with Billy Merson, Mona Vivian and Susie Belmore. This company included G.S. Melvin as Dame.

 

G.S. Melvin (1877-1946) was a dame comedian who was later to become famous for his song “I’m Happy When I’m Hiking”, which became the hikers’ anthem in the 1930’s.

 

1925 - Newcastle Theatre Royal, Mother Goose

 

1925 Pantomimes were now only three: Manchester Palace “Queen Of Hearts” starred Gwladys Stanley (Francis Laidler’s wife) along with G.S. Melvin and Jack Edge, Newcastle Theatre Royal “Mother Goose” with Dorothy Ward, Shaun Glenville and Fred Conquest, and “The Sleeping Beauty” at Liverpool Empire starring George Robey.

 

Julian Wylie had many revues running, mostly on tour, and a revue planned with Sophie Tucker, as well as Summer Seasons in several resorts including Blackpool.

 

1926 A slight change of direction: This year Dorothy Ward and Shaun Glenville appeared not in pantomime, but in a Wylie-Tate musical “The Apache”, prior to opening at the London Palladium. They played the Christmas season in Newcastle Hippodrome.

 

Wylie had added Wimbledon Theatre, London “Mother Goose” to his list, with Fred Conquest and Fred Kitchen, along with “Humpty Dumpty” starring “Wee” Georgie Wood at the Palace, Manchester. “The Sleeping Beauty” at The Glasgow Theatre Royal starred Kitty Reidy and G.S.Melvin, and “Queen of Hearts” with Gwladys Stanley transferred to the Empire, Liverpool.

 

1927 The Wylie-Tate pantomimes numbered five: Glasgow Theatre Royal had “Cinderella” featuring Naughton & Gold, Betty Jumel and Lily Lapidus, “Aladdin” at Newcastle Theatre Royal featured Jack Edge and Dan Leno (junior- although by now the “Junior” was being dropped- sufficient time had lapsed for no confusion between the Leno’s), “Mother Goose” at Sheffield Hippodrome starred Dorothy & Shaun (fresh from appearing in “The Apache”) and Georgie Wood once again starred as “Humpty Dumpty” at the Empire, Liverpool. The final pantomime was a transferred “Sleeping Beauty” now at the Palace, Manchester with G.S. Melvin, Jay Laurier and Kitty Reidy.

 

Jay Laurier (1879-1969) specialised in playing “fatuous innocents”, and had a hit with his song “I’m always doing something silly”. Like George Robey, he too eventually went into “legitimate” theatre, appearing in Shakespearean productions at the Theatre Royal Stratford in 1938 and again in 1939.

RELATED MEDIA

Jay Laurier

CLIP - And It Was (1919)

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This year (1927) Julian Wylie co-presented “The Yellow Mask” with Laddie Cliff at the King’s Glasgow. Written by Edgar Wallace, and produced by Wylie, it was a musical starring Phyllis Dare and Bobby Howes

 

1928 Mr Cinders” the Musical Comedy was destined for the West End under Julian Wylie’s plans, and so in 1928 he presented the show at the King’s Theatre Glasgow for a Christmas season. It was later to open at the Adelphi Theatre, London. The musical was written by Vivian Ellis, and it looked at one point as if Wylie would lose the production to another company.

Born at Hampstead, London, in 1904, Vivian Ellis was educated at Cheltenham College and initially trained as a classical pianist under Dame Myra Hess. But before he was out of his teens he contributed to a 1922 London revue called The Curate’s Egg and so much enjoyed the experience that from henceforth he was completely hooked on the stage, his subsequent career comparing more than favourably with anybody else in the profession. All told he featured prominently in nearly 70 West End shows in 36 years — almost two a year and with World War Two putting things on hold in the middle!

 

While still only 25 he produced a smash hit musical which established him at the forefront of popular composers. Mr. Cinders was a modern Cinderella with the roles reversed and brought together a partnership which is still remembered with affection. The songs Spread a Little Happiness, I’m a One Man Girl, and the brilliantly witty On the Amazon were performed by Binnie Hale and Bobby Howes, the two main stars of a show which ran for 528 performances at the Adelphi Theatre.

 

The brains behind the production was Julian Wylie who, after touring successfully with it in the provinces, hoped to persuade his former home, the London Hippodrome, to stage it in the West End. They refused and he was forced to sell it to a company who asked someone else to direct it instead. Wylie was both outraged and embittered but the tables suddenly turned when J.A. Malone’s alterations failed to impress the public and he was invited back. Malone responded with the classic phrase "Over my dead body" — and promptly expired! Wylie’s magic did the rest and the show became a classic.

That year, 1928 Wylie produced only four pantomimes, adding no further subjects or venues with the exception of the Grand Theatre Leeds, “The Sleeping Beauty” with G.S. Melvin, Nellie Wigley and Stella Browne. The pantomime was in opposition to Francis Laidler’s “Cinderella” at the Theatre Royal that year. Wylie’s three other pantomimes were “Cinderella” at the Liverpool Empire, with Dorothy Ward, Shaun Glenville, Naughton & Gold and Betty Jumel, “Humpty Dumpty” at the Royal, Glasgow with Georgie Wood, and  “Aladdin” at the Palace Manchester with Nellie Wallace, George Clarke and Gwladys Stanley.

Dorothy Ward as Prince Charming

Pantomime in Ten Years Time

The Pantomime Annual 1928

Julian Wylie, the famous pantomime producer, tells us what to expect at Christmas 1938

What will pantomime be like ten Christmases hence? That is the question I have been asked to answer in a few hundred words.

 

I can economise by using a mere two of them- “The Same”.

 

Yes, pantomime will be the same in ten years from now. A disappointing reply? You expected a fascinating flight of fancy? A series of picturesque cameos- Robot chorus ladies wound up before each performance and guaranteed not to turn the stage managers hair white with worry by getting out of step?: A troupe of winged Martians (by then we shall probably have established a regular torpedo air route from Mars to London) tearing up the town with the daring flying novelty speciality, the limelight of the newest discovery of the newest health expert: In fact, the entire production chemically rather than comically produced?

 

Well, why not? As a certain Mr Hamlet nearly remarked, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in the philosophy of the most hard-boiled pantomime producer. All these things may come to pass and then some.

 

But pantomime will still be the same in its fundamentals, and whether the entertainment of 1938 will be a talkie film, a television broadcast, or a super spectacle on a super-theatre stage proper, when it comes down to brass tacks it will be just the same.

 

What are the fundamental ingredients of a successful pantomime? Love, Hatred, Jealousy, Laughter, Evil-frustrated-by-magic, and the inevitable triumph-of-good-over-bad- all as essential to a pantomime as the ingredients of a Mrs Beaton cookery recipe. Omit one of them and the result is as flat as a scone minus baking powder. I will give you an example:

 

Take: “The Babes In The Wood”, a charming story of two little children sent to persish in the forest by a wicked Uncle. Here we have hatred and jealousy in buckets. Magic frustrates the evil, good triumphs over bad, and there is laughter a plenty. But- and it is the biggest “but”- any theatrical manager can come up against- there is no love element.

 

What do we do? We introduce Maid Marion and her lover, Robin Hood. Do the audience worry as to their actual connection with the original story? I should say not. The result makes the perfect pantomime, and everyone is happy.

 

In ten years hence: the songs will be different (more or less) although fashion’s cycle may have brought the dresses round to the abbreviated ones of 1928 again. The scenery and stage effects will have moved with the times.

 

But audiences will still be loving the lovers, laughing at the laughter-merchants, marveling at the magic, and sighing with satisfaction when the curtain falls on the Triumph-of-good-over-bad, in time for them to catch their last aeroplane home!

DRURY LANE PANTOMIME

 

1929 One of Wylie’s greatest achievements was to return pantomime to it’s ancestral home- The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. In 1929 he produced “The Sleeping Beauty”  there, in addition to a further four major pantomimes across the country.

Pictures from 1929 The Sleeping Beauty - Click on Image to Enlarge

 

Drury Lane’s “Sleeping Beauty” featured G.S. Melvin as the Queen, with Lilian Davies, Eve Gray, Clarice Hardwick, Mark Turner (Wicked Witch), James Craig (The King) and Jay Laurier (Rudolph the Reckless).

Wylie loved publicity, and saw to it that all the world was told that pantomime was back at the lane. One day at rehearsal he complained of feeling unwell. “What’s the matter with you?” asked Herman Fink. “I think it’s vertigo, “replied Julian. “Vertigo?” countered Herman, “you mean ad-vertigo”.

 

“Julian brought back all the old Drury Lane glories. He thought pantomime, he dreamt pantomime, he talked pantomime all the year round: and to be at Drury lane was the height of his delight. “The Sleeping Beauty” ran from 24th December 1929 to 1st March 1930, and was a winner”

 

(Theatre Royal Drury Lane: W. Macqueen Pope)

At the Palace Manchester he presented a new subject “Robinson Crusoe” for Dorothy Ward and Shaun Glenville, at Liverpool Empire “Aladdin” saw the return of Ella Retford, and another new subject “Goldilocks” at the Birmingham Theatre Royal featured Elsie Prince and Betty Jumel. In Scotland Wylie had the musical “Here Comes The Bride” at the King’s Glasgow, prior to the West End, and “Queen of Hearts” at the King’s Theatre Edinburgh, featuring Jack Edge and Harry Gordon.

 

Harry Gordon (1893 - 1955) was the Principal Comedian in Julian Wylie pantomimes from 1929-32. He had a record consecutive eleven years run in pantomime for Tom Arnold at the Glasgow Alhambra (seven of these years co-starring with Will Fyffe from 1937/48 and six summer shows with Howard & Wyndham's Kings Theatres in Edinburgh & Glasgow. He had a record run of two solid years in Glasgow playing only two theatres the Kings & the Alhambra. He also held the flying record playing three shows 100 miles apart in three hours flying from the Pavilion Aberdeen to Inverness and back. He had over 300 character studies 100 being character doubles with Jack Holden. He also played several specials seasons in America in the 40's.

 

“Mr Cinders” continued to be a great hit, and was leased out to two separate companies to tour the country at the same time.

 

1930 This year a different West End Pantomime for Julian Wylie- Although not a new production. The venue was The Dominion Theatre, London and the pantomime “Aladdin”. Starring Ella Retford, it was the pantomime that had previously played Liverpool, with Lupino Lane, Nellie Wallace (as Widow Twankey) and Wallace Lupino.

 

The Dominion Theatre had just opened the year before, and had not had much success with live theatre- in 1930 the “Talkie” version of “The Phantom of the Opera” was screened. Chaplin’s “City Lights” premiered here the following year.

 

In addition, Wylie had “Nippy” the musical comedy at the Prince Edward Theatre. The Theatre had just opened in 1930 with a new Wylie musical called “Nippy” starring Binnie Hale and Clifford Mollinson, it  ran for 137 performances.

 

Wylie’s other pantomimes that year were “Dick Whittington” at the Palace, Manchester with Faye Compton, Jack Edge and Tom D. Newell as Dame. This pantomime featured “the Two Hearnes”- the younger was to achieve pantomime and television fame later as “Mr. Pastry”- Richard Hearne.

 

The Sleeping Beauty” at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham had G.S. Melvin as Queen, with Dorothy Langley as Prince and the young Betty Astell as “Princess Beauty”. Betty was later to marry Cyril Fletcher and wrote and produced many pantomimes with her husband.

 

Robinson Crusoe” continued to be the new vehicle for the husband and wife team of Dorothy Ward and Shaun Glenville at the Empire, Liverpool, and at the King’s Theatre EdinburghMother Goose” starred Harry Gordon, Nita Croft and Archie Glen.

 

1931 Julian Wylie’s “The Good Companions” was a great success both in the United Kingdom, and in America. This year he presented the stage version of J.B. Priestley’s novel at His Majesty’s Theatre, London, at the King’s Theatre Glasgow, and at the 44th Street Theatre in New York. The West End version starred John Gielgud, Adele Dixon and Edward Chapman.

 

Possibly as a consequence of this, and the work involved, he presented only three pantomimes in 1931, and no new subjects. “Jack and The Beanstalk” at the Palace Manchester (his sixteenth season there) starred G.S. Melvin, Billy Danvers and Betty Jumel, “Queen Of Hearts” at the Grand Theatre Leeds had Dorothy Ward, Shaun Glenville and Jack Edge, while his pantomime at the Theatre Royal Glasgow was presented under the banner of “Howard and Wyndham presents Julian Wylie’s production” of “Dick Whittington” with Fay Compton, Harry Gordon and Tom D. Newell as Dame.

1932-1933

 

At this moment in time, I have very little information on the Wylie pantomimes of 1932-1933 and 1933-1934. The pantomime annuals were no longer published- interestingly the last edition altered its name slightly to: “The Sunday Chronicle Pantomime and Amusements Annual” before vanishing. If any visitors to this website know of any later editions that may have passed me by, all of us at IBY would be grateful for that information, and indeed any information to fill in the gap years of 1932-1933 in Julian Wylie’s catalogue of pantomimes.

 

In compiling our list for the Howard and Wyndham Pantomimes, we have filled a little detail in 1932 in Jack and The Beanstalk at the King’s Theatre Edinburgh with Dorothy Ward and Shaun Glenville and the following year 1933 in the same production at the Theatre Royal Newcastle. He also produced The Sleeping Beauty at The King's Theatre, Edinburgh  with Alma Barness, Dan Leno Jnr. and G.S. Melvin in 1933.

 

We do, however, have some information on a Wylie pantomime supplied by the Richard Hearne Society. It was performed at the London Hippodrome in 1933, the pantomime being Dick Whittington. It starred Fay Compton as Dick, with Johnny Fuller as the Cat.

 

In 1934 Dorothy and Shaun appear again in “Jack and The Beanstalk” at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham.

1934 THE DEATH OF JULIAN WYLIE

H.M.Tennent was the newly appointed General Manager of Drury Lane, having previously been with Moss Empires. It was Tennant who was faced with an empty theatre, and decided to call in Julian Wylie to present pantomime. – this time “Cinderella”.

“It was a production worthy of Drury Lane. One of the scenes was a vast lake, into which marched an army of girls, entering the water and walking-down, down, down until they were entirely submerged and lost to sight beneath the surface of the lake. It was an exciting scene and provided some thrills at rehearsals too. Once a bathing cap was seen floating on the surface, There was a moment of panic until it was discovered that the girl was safe ashore but had lost her cap in transit.

 

(Macqueen Pope: Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.)

 

The cast included Phyllis Neilson-Terry as Prince Charming, Billy Danvers as Buttons, and Dan Leno (Jnr) the son now appearing in the home of his late father, playing the Baron Mumm. The undoubted stars of the show were the duo, Revnell and West playing “The Ugly Sisters” - Maxie and Minnie Mumm . Billed in variety as “The Long and The Short Of It”,

 

Click on Image to EnlargeEthel Revnell (1895-1978) and Gracie West (1894-1989) were a highly popular act. Ethel at just over 6’ tall and Gracie at just over 4’ played two evil schoolgirls in the variety halls. Perfect casting for female “Sisters” in “Cinderella”

 

*This photograph is from the Wylie production of “Cinderella” at Drury Lane. It hangs on my wall, and I often wonder about the dedication “To  Four Very Sweet Girls”- perhaps Juveniles in the pantomime in 1934?

 

Just as the pantomime was about to open at Drury lane Julian Wylie died suddenly- possibly from overwork, and possibly as a result of his near addiction to large quantities of ice-cream. The last few rehearsals were taken by Herbert Bryan, and it was Bryan who saw the production through it’s run  and to the end.

The death of Julian Wylie was a shock to both theatre folk and to the public. Millions of them had experienced a “Wylie-Tate” pantomime  in various parts of the country, and news of his death was important enough to be a feature in the “Pathe News” reels, shown at cinemas through the land at Christmas 1934.

According to the Howard and Wyndham book, Wylie-Tate continued to produce at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle for the 1934/35 and 1935/36 season - Babes in the Wood and Dick Whittington respectively. Dick Whittington was with Dorothy Ward.

RELATED MEDIA - Pathe News Reel of Death of Julian Wylie

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- alternatively you can download it for free or purchase one with a higher definition from www.britishpathe.com

 

The Children's Book of Pantomimes - Invented by G.B. (Bertie) Samuelson

The Children's Book of Pantomimes" published by Collins 1930

David Samuelson, the son of G.B (Bertie) Samuelson, and nephew of Julian Wylie informed us that the "Children's Book of Pantomimes" published by Collins in 1930 was in fact the creation and invention (Patent no: 357, 148 of 1930) of G.B. (Bertie Samuelson. This remarkable Pantomime book converts into a Toy Theatre, together with Proscenium arch, stage floor and scenery, along with characters and a script by "Uncle Bertie!"
 

This page was last updated 23rd July 2011

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