Untold lives blog

31 August 2020

Music hall entertainment for Bank Holiday Monday

In August 1882 the New Star Music Hall in Liverpool advertised a varied bill for Bank Holiday Monday – magic, singing, comedy, dancing, opera.  The venue sought to attract customers not only through the quality of performers booked but also by its claim to be the coolest and best ventilated hall in England.

Bank Holiday Monday programme for the New Star Music Hall in Liverpool August 1882

Bank Holiday Monday programme for the New Star Music Hall in Liverpool - Caernarvon and Denbigh Herald 5 August 1882. British Newspaper Archive

The acts for the evening of 5 August 1882 were listed as-

    Bryant’s Great Marionette

George Bryant operated marionette performances from the 1870s.  Here is a picture of his Marionette Minstrels from a bill for the Winchester Music Hall in Southwark –a ‘Novel, Wonderful and Amusing Speciality’, ‘the Best Mechanical Entertainment in Europe, consisting of Songs, Dances, Jokes, Choruses etc’.

Picture of Bryant's Marionette Minstrels playing instruments from a bill for the Winchester Music Hall in SouthwarkBryant's Marionette Minstrels from a bill for the Winchester Music Hall in Southwark - British Library Evanion Collection 752

    Don Esparto, the Mystagogue, and Miss Lilian Haydn, the Enchantress

Don Esparto was the stage name of illusionist William Smith from Barrow Upon Humber, Lincolnshire.  He combined conjuring with mesmerism.  In one show, he made a man eat a candle in the belief that it was a string of sausages.  Miss Lilian Hadyn acted as his assistant and was described in newspapers as vivacious and a very good serio-comic.

    Sisters and Brother Phillips, the Burlesque Trio, The Three Comical Cards

This ‘Witty, Whimsical and Pantomimical’ act was formed in 1870 by W H Phillips who wrote the songs and material performed.  In 1886 he complained of ‘unprincipled copyists’ malignant vindictiveness and jealousy’.

    Brady and Johnson, the Inimitable Comic Duettists

Albert Brady and Marion Johnson were the stage names of married couple John and Mary Brady.  They performed sketches.

    Mr Harry Steele, Comic Vocalist and Eccentric Skater

Steele’s catchphrase was ‘By Jove! I was nearly down again’.

    Miss Milnes, Soprano Vocalist

The repertoire of Agnes Milnes, ‘the queen of song’, included opera and sentimental ballads.

    Mr George Vokes, Grotesque Comedian

Vokes was said to excite ‘the risible faculties of the audience by his comicalities’.

George-VokesGeorge Vokes by Alfred Concanen, circa 1870s © National Portrait Gallery, London National Portrait Gallery Creative Commons Licence

    Mr Harry Starr, American , Dutch, and Irish Character Comedian

Starr enjoyed considerable success as a variety artist and then became an actor and dramatist.

    Sisters De Laine, Fascinating Duettists and Champion Skipping Rope Dancers

In 1894, Alice De Laine opened a dance academy in London for music hall aspirants which specialised in tuition for skipping rope dancing.

Sisters De LaineAdvert for Alice De Laine's dance academy - Music Hall and Theatre Review 31 August 1894 British Newspaper Archive

       The Band - Grand Selection from Donizetti’s opera Anna Bolena

The performance started at 7.30pm. Tickets for the front stalls cost 1s 6d, stalls and promenade 1s, and the body of the hall 6d.  The Liverpool Mercury described the evening’s programme as ‘unusually interesting’.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
British Newspaper Archive e.g. London and Provincial Entr’Acte 26 July 1873; Caernarvon and Denbigh Herald 5 August 1882; Liverpool Mercury 8 August 1882; The Era 22 August 1880, 3 October 1885, and 8 May 1886; Midland Counties Advertiser 1 November 1888; Music Hall and Theatre Review 31 August 1894.


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