Great War Theatre

Performances at this Theatre

Date Script Type
N/A Rations Unknown
27 Sep 1915 So Long Lucy Unknown
29 Nov 1915 The Mystery Gun Professional
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The reputation which the management of the Derby Hippodrome have so justly earned of giving their patrons only the best entertainment will be further enhanced next week. The composition of the programme we feel certain will satisfy all tastes. Lovers of good singing (and Derby merits the claim of being judges in this respect) will be in their element listening to the entrancing warbling of Miss Ruby Heyl, premier contralto from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London. Her vocalist reputation is so familiar with musical playgoers that comment is superfluous. In the opposite direction the mystical loving portion of the audience is appealed to by the act entitled "The Mystery Gun". This turn is a combination of naval mystery and comedy, and promises to be very appropriate to the moment when the doings of guns, big and little, are the topic of the daily conversation. The scene is laid on the gun decks of a famous battle-ship, showing the forward turret with its huge guns frowning over the deck. The chief interest is centred round the invention of Lieutenant Jack Armstrong - the Mystery Gun as he calls it - and declares it capable of firing a human being through any substance even steel itself, and on its success not only depends a fortune, but the happiness of Jack, and Molly, the Captain's daughter. As to how the gun is put to the test, the laughable situations that lead up to it, and the startling results we must save our readers to discover for themselves. It is sufficient to say for the moment that the ridicule and opposition of the crusty old captain, and the family troubles of Smiler Simms all help to lead to a happy ending. The comedy element in this tremendously fine programme is well looked after by that screamingly funny Lancashire comedian, Harold Baker. (Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal - Friday 26 November 1915)
20 Dec 1915 Advertising Brings Results Unknown
3 Apr 1916 The Frenchwoman Professional
15 May 1916 Money For Nothing Professional
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Performed from 15 to 20 May 1916 by Herbert Robinson (music), Nellie Turner (actress), Florence Smithers (actress), Billy Berhardt (comedian), Phil Lester (pantomime artiste), Jimmy Hooper, Andy Clark, Iris Belshaw, and Annie Hill's octette of dancers.
25 Sep 1916 For Those In Peril Professional
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Performed by Miss Beaumont Collins.
16 Jul 1917 Jack Ashore by The Jutland Boys Other
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Presented by Florence Smithson. 'Apart from the fact that here we have in being an octette of brave heroes who have done their bit in one of the hottest naval battles of recent times, the Jutland boys will give an entertainment in songs, music, and fun that will be pleasing to all' (Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 13 July 1917)
15 Oct 1917 His Mother's Rosary Professional
3 Dec 1917 In the Trenches Professional
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Performed for the week by cast including Harry Buss: 'Topping this gigantic bill is the inimitable comedian Harry Buss in a screaming absurdity...From the information we have of visits in other towns this sketch is a real rib-tickler...the six characters are played by artistes who have either served in his Majesty's forces or are over military age' (Derbyshire Advertiser, 30 November 1917) 'All these artistes have either served in His Majesty's forces or are over age...Although the sketch is very amusing, there are one or two pathetic incidents which go to show the real good feeling which our British Tommy has for his pals..' (Derbyshire Advertiser, 7 December 1917) On the same bill were: Alice Craven (Lancashire dialect comedy songs), Clown Barker and his wonderful midget circus (including two midget ponies, one 29.5 inches high, eight clown dogs and comedian cat), James Stewart (tramp entertainer at the piano), The Jees (sensational wire act), Walter Wade (the Yorkshire "Scot", Gaetano Ollams with his famous concertina.
18 Feb 1918 Flying Colours Professional
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‘A Bairnsfather sketch is the principal item in the programme at the Hippodrome this week, and is full of the most characteristic touches that have made this great war humorist famous. It had an exceptionally successful run at the London Hippodrome. Entitled “The Johnson ‘Ole,” it introduces several familiar characters, and notably Old Bill, whom Capt. Bairnsfather has created as a type of soldier with a fund of dry humour that we have come to know and appreciate so well. The scene is a trench in the firing line, and most of the incidents are such as might reasonably happen, whilst the jokes are all fresh and hearty, treating the dangers of the situation in that happy and careless fashion so characteristic of the British Tommy. The crowning incident is Old Bill’s adventure his search of a German sniper, and he returns with nothing better than a dummy. The principal part is admirably played by Mr. Harry Thurston, who has the real Bairnsfather vein of fun, and whose make-up is true to the well-known cartoons. He is supported by a thoroughly capable company’. Derby Daily Telegraph, 19 February 1918. ‘A capital programme was presented at the Hippodrome on Monday, when there were two bumper houses. The top of the hill was occupied by London’s greatest laughter-maker, namely Capt. Bruce Bairnsfather’s episode of trench humour, entitled “The Johnson ‘Ole,” featuring Harry Thurston as “Old Bill the Walrus.” The sketch, which is by Capt. Bairnsfather and E. [sic] Macdonald Hastings, has been successfully produced at the London Hippodrome. The piece is amusing all through, but particularly so in that part where old Bill receives a letter from his old woman describing the new baby. The scene is typical of life at the front, and a capital idea is given of a dugout’. Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 22 and 23 February 1918.
1 Jul 1918 Rations Professional
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‘Fred Karno’s reputation will not suffer by the entertainment which he presents at the Hippodrome this week in the shape of a miniature revue. It takes up more than half the bill, and if not as elaborate or ambitious as some of the productions that come within the same category, it answers very well the purpose of amusing the audience. It is entitled “Rations,” and is really a clever skit on the food difficulties of the present day. Fun is made of the rationing system in several of its phases, and it is such good fare that one can take offence at the quips that are made. In Mr. Ross [sic] Wilton we have a first-rate comedian, whose drolleries are irresistible, and he introduces many new jokes. Miss Winnie Collins is the principal girl, and she is excellent both in song and dance. They are well supported, notably by Miss Florence Palmer, Mr. Frank H. St. Clair, and Mr. Jack Mann. The incidents in the revue are quite original, and in this connection “Lady Hoardley’s Secret” deserves to be specially mentioned' (Derby Daily Telegraph, 2 July 1918). ‘One of the most amusing productions ever staged in Derby is to be seen at the Hippodrome this week. It is a revuette introduced by Fred Karno, and is entitled “Rations,” a term with which everyone has now become thoroughly familiar. In the piece everything is rationed, even kisses, and in the opening scene in the park that funniest of funny comedians, Ross [sic] Wilton, appears in the character of Kiss Controller, with Frank H. St. Clair as his assistant. The quips and jokes are new and sparkling, and Mr. St. Clair sings a very good song, “Peace time in Piccadilly.” Miss Winnie Collins, as the Flapper, also sings “Keep it dark” in very fine style. In the second scene the butcher’s shop is introduced, with Ross [sic] Wilton as the proprietor. He disposes of his customers in very summary fashion, and sings a song which is all his own, and for which he is very warmly applauded. The third scene, Lady Hoardley’s Secret, is very laughable, Miss Florence Palmer acting the part of the hoarder to perfection, whilst Wilton and St. Clair are the midnight burglars who discover her secret. In this scene Miss Winnie Collins assumes the rôle of sleep walker. She is a charming and graceful dancer, light as a sunbeam, and her clever acting is very greatly appreciated. The fourth and last scene takes a patriotic turn. It is Tank Day, and Wilton and Jack Mann are seen as a couple of British workmen who form part of a gang employed in laying a cable. In this scene Miss Collins and chorus sings “The wallpaper parade,” a pretty song and dance, which is a very successful feature of the show. Taking it on the whole, “Rations” is a popular and most successful production based upon the prevailing conditions of the times, all which are hit off capitally’ (Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 5 July 1918).
31 Mar 1919 The Rhondda Miner’s Octette Professional
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Performance billed as 'The Eight Rhondda Miners'. Performance at 6.30 and 8.30pm. Other acts on the same bill were: Mafuziang Manhue Troupe (Chinese), Sammy Shields (speakable Scot), Herbert Winter and Bunny (Burlesque), Carr Lynn (animal imitator), De Alma (Banjo)
5 May 1919 Seven Days Leave Professional
8 Sep 1919 Jolly Times Professional
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‘Mirth and music are combined in a clever manner in “Jolly Times,” a revue descriptive of the great war, which attracted crowded houses to the Hippodrome on Monday ... he star performer is Mr. Jos. Alexandre, who as Squibby Brown is the life and soul of camp life, and in other ways demonstrates his versatility. The various people in the sheltered village of Winsea find themselves in France for the war, and how some of them secured the transfer it would be hard to explain. The fact remains they get there to help or hinder in the war, as the case may be. Corporal Squibbs is one of the helpers, for he accepts all the terrors of the conflict as a comic side show, and he is far more upset by the little difficulties of life than live shells and bombardments. One of the best scenes is undoubtedly “The Billet,” for here a number of soldiers are heard harmonising to the strains of concertina played by Corporal Squibbs. They sing with great effect a delightful lullaby among other items. Fun is fast and furious in the dry canteen which is introduced in the next scene, and there is an amusing love affair between Corporal Squibbs and a pretty American nurse. The end arrives at a dancing saloon and cafe in Paris, Corporal Squibbs having decided by this time that Paris “knocks spots” off Blighty, and there is no need to return to that far-famed place ... Mr. Alexandre is well backed in every way by Mr. Joseph Victor as Lance-corporal Moppitup, who is another big success in the show. Mr. Peter McSweeney as a man of title who enlists as a private, is also to the fore, and he has a light tenor voice which is heard to advantage in every scene. The lady principals have been well chosen, and Miss Florence Williams is one of the daintiest of artistes, and a pleasing singer in addition. One of her items is “Down on the farm,” which is a popular song of the moment. Miss Madge Merle also warbles some of the latest successes with excellent effect. The beauty chorus makes a brave show, and there is an augmented orchestra for the occasion, under the direction of Mr. J. Humphries’ (Derby Daily Telegraph, 9 September 1919). ‘Another good thing is produced at the Hippodrome during the present week, namely, Mr. Harry Goodson is presenting Joe Alexandre’s “Jolly Times,” or incidents in the great war. The book is by H. G. Goring, the dances by Millie Edgar, and the piece is produced by Charles Henry. As in most revues, there is not much in the plot, which has simply to do with the fortunes of a loving couple who are plighted to wed each other. The young man, the Hon. Owen Malcombe (Mr. Peter McSweeney) has a guardian uncle in the person of Lord Hugh Malcombe, afterwards Col. Malcombe (Mr. Charles Lind Vivian), who forbids the marriage because the girl (played Miss Florence Williams) is merely a painted actress. His lordship has never seen her, but during his military duties he meets her as a member of the W.A.A.C., and himself falls in love with her. She refuses, explaining that her true love is a private in the army, but that his uncle will not allow them to marry. The colonel threatens what he would like to do to the uncle, and then he makes the discovery that he himself is the cruel relative and his nephew, a private soldier, is the girl’s fiancée. Much of the fun is provided by Mr. Jos. Alexandre as Squibley Brown, who becomes Corporal Squibbs, and Mr. Jos. Victor as Moppitup, the landlord of The Old Apple Tree, who also joins up. As Muriel, Miss Cassie King is very good, whilst as “Sadie Gerard,” an American, Miss Madge Merle is real smart. In the second scene, entitled “The Billet,” there is some capital singing by the male members of the company, who appear in khaki. They are accompanied by Mr. Alexandre on the concertina, of which he is a very capable player. In the canteen scene (somewhere in France) Miss Williams and Miss Merle sing some pleasing numbers, whilst Mr. McSweeney gives a fine rendering of “Brave Old Contemptibles.” Scene four is an outpost, where Squibbs and Moppitup are visited by the nurse (Miss Merle), and Squibbs does a little love-making. The last scene, a dancing saloon in Paris, is very fine. Squibbs having been demobbed, now turns waiter, and there is real fun between him and Moppitup, who is supposed to be a visitor. In this scene Miss Florence Williams sings “Down on the Farm” with great effect, whilst Miss Madge Merle is warmly applauded for her song, “Down Honolulu Way.” Another good musical item is the one entitled “It’s a long way, no longer,” by Mr. McSweeney and Miss Florence Williams and full company’ (Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, Saturday 12 September 1919).
1 Mar 1920 Peace Time Prophecies or Stories Gone Wrong Professional
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‘Plavgoers of all ages will welcome the visit to the Hippodrome next week of that delightful musical play “Bubbly” which had such a phenomenal run at the Comedy Theatre. London. On its previous visit to Derby it achieved an immediate success - in fact all over the country it has scored triumph after triumph no less for its entrancing music than for its clever dialogue. The entire production is travelled by the company and several notable names are included in the all-star London cast. Foremost among these are Phyllis Whitney, a vivacious young actress who comes direct from the Comedy and Prince of Wales Theatres, and Elsie Stevens, who at Christmas made a decided hit in “The Red Mill” at the Empire, Leicester-square. Edward Steadman, Barrett Lennard and Lauri Aster are a trio of comedians with metropolitan reputations and there is a wonderful solo dancer in the person of Rita Webber. There is a fascinating and exquisitely-dressed chorus, and a specially augmented orchestra will do full justice to Philip Braham’s delightful music. Book early for this exceptional attraction, which attains its 1500th performance on Monday’. Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 27 February 1920.
31 May 1920 The Girl from Ciro's Professional
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'Described as a frankly naughty, saucy French farce, "The Girl from Ciro's" will be produced on the usual twice nightly system at the Hippodrome next week. The company presenting this clever and very amusing farce is the strongest sent on the road. The pace of the comedy is such that the audience is kept in continual merriment and there is little doubt that it will prove as acceptable to Derby audiences as it did to Londoner.' "Derby Daily Telegraph" 29 May 1920.