Princess Theatre, Dunedin

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RNZ Collection
Annan, Frank
Bailey, Stella
DAVIES, Hilmer
DORE, Doreen
FORRESTOR, Frederick
HAMER, Harriet
O'NEIL, Peggy
VALE, Noelene
Princess Theatre (N.Z.)
St. James Theatre (Dunedin, N.Z.)

These tapes feature a series of talks and interviews, recorded between 1957 and 1959, with people who worked at or were associated with the Princess Theatre in Dunedin. This theatre was later known as the St James Theatre, established in 1860 and situated in High Street, Dunedin.

These recollections were used to compile a three-part series called "The
Story Of The Princess Theatre" - see ID 25053. The interviewer is Noeline Vale.

The individual contents are as follows:
NB. T2193-T2196 are unauditioned.

T2191 - Harriet Hamer, Doreen Dore, Peggy O'Neil, Toots Mitchell and Toots Richards. An edited version from raw interviews below.

An edited version from various raw interviews featured below.

T2193 - Not known.

T2194 - Not known.

T2195 - Mr Curtis interviewed by Hal Weston, Mr Stewart on Mr Hamer and Mr Mitchell.

T2196 - Mrs Stewart.

T2197 - Mrs Harriet Hamer, the daughter of John Fuller.
Mrs Hamer recalls the first time she went to the Old Princess and speaks of the early days, artists and companies including Mrs Brown-Potter, Titelle Brune, Howard Vernon, Harry Ricard's Vaudeville Company, Florence Young, Nelly Stewart, the Brough and Boucicault Company, Mr and Mrs Robert brough, Walter Bentley, Ada Ferrar, the Rev Frank Gorman, Daisy Jerome, Leonard Nelson, George Wallis, Fred Bluett, Tom Pollard Opera Company, Lilliputian Opera Company, Maud and May Beatty, Willy Percy and [?] Queely.

T2198 - Frederick Forrestor.
Mr Forrestor talks about his memories as a 12 year old boy of Walter Bently, the Phyllis Circus and Bland Holt.

T2199 - Mr and Mrs Paterson.
Mrs Paterson recollects some amusing things that used to happen in the pit and they both recall actors William Percy and Charles Albert, Frank Thornton, Walter Bently, Walter Howe, Bland Holt, Charlie Hugo Priscilla Vern, Alec Smith and Billy Woods, Little Gulliver and the juggler, Cinquavalli.

T2200 - Mr Alfred Petit.
Mr Petit, pianist in the Princess Theatre's orchestra (1911), talks about music and sound effects accompanying early movie pictures, his favourite films, the audience reactions, Frank Gorman (the singing parson) and the theatre's final closing show.

T 2201 - Frank Annan.
Mr Annan describes Bland Holt and his company's plays, audience reactions, describes the interior of the theatre and the gas lighting run by Bunny Watson. He talks about "The Term of his Natural Life", "Little Lord Fauntleroy" and "Uncle Tom's Cabin", the Pollard Opera Company, Carl Brown, Sad Eyed Shriek, Harry Baxter and "East Lynn"

T2202 - Mrs Stapleton interviewed by Noelene Vale.
In 1911 she was known as Katie Laing, selling tickets at the age of 12 before moving back stage to lighting. First her aunt, then father, Andy laing became Caretaker Stage Manager (20years). Mrs Stapleton talks about the first pictures accompanied by orchestra, Frank Gorman the singing Parson, Leonard Nelson who ran 'Talent Quests' and how the audience got involved in those days singing along to popular songs. She notes Daisy Gerome always drew a full house and other actors she remembers include the comedian George Story, actresses Nellie Collie and Polly McLaren, the Japanese jugglers 'The Togos' and male actors George Wallace and Marshall Crosby. She describes cleaning the dress circle, lost property and seating. She left the theatre after 16 years to get married.

T2203 - Miss Stella Bailey.
Miss Bailey describes the interior of the Princess Theatre, attending Mosgroves Opera Company shows, the boisterous, enthusiastic and well dressed audiences. She tells a couple of stories about the Free Masons performance of 'MacBeth' and Gilbert & Sullivan's 'HMS Pinafore'. In 1893 at 4 years of age she saw her first show, the 'Pirates of Penzance' including Bill Young and Harry Smith, later in 'Paul Jones' actresses Maud and May Beatty and the magician, Carl Hertz. When she was very young her aunt took her to a minstrel show which she noted was "all negros". She talks about the Musgrove Opera Company perfomrances in 1901 including Carmen and Travatore and notes the actress Madame Yansen and conductor Slapovsky. In the 1890s George Rignault brought Henry V to the Princess. In 1907 two artists sang on alternate nights, Blancharelle (accompanied by musicians) and Andrew Black.

T2204 - Miss Stella Bailey.
A well scripted version of the original interview on T2203.

T2205 - Madame Stella.
In 1902 Madame Stella (nee Anna Martinelli) began playing the piano at age 9 years old accomapnied by her brother Frank who played the violin. The first production she remembers accompanying was 'Sign of the Cross' where she made quite an impact. She tells the story of how Marcus Superbus tried offering her mother money to take her away on tour for two years. Madame Stella describes the interior of the Princess Theatre, an amusing incident with actor Mr John Fuller, the dramas she remembers seeing "Little Lord Fauntaloy", "East Lynn", "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and George Leech's "Land of the Moa" (1985). She talks about Bland Holt's "Span of Life", "New Babylon" and "A Million of Money" and theatre singers, Miss Rose Blaney, Farquar Young and Miss Amy Murphy. She concludes the interview by playing "Remeberance" on the piano.

T2206 - Hilmer Davie.
Mr Davies' describes his first recollection of going to the Princess in the late 1880s when he was 14-15 years of age. He talks about the earliest operas including "The Pirates of Penzance" (1891) with popular comedian W.S. Percy and "The Mikado" with Howard Vernon, singers, Celia Galoney, Flora Graukland and Violet Barley. He used to play in the Kaikora (stage) band. He goes on to describe "The Hexious Mnistrels", Charlie Hugo and Priscilla Vern, Maggie Moore in "Struck Oil" and Bland Holt. In 1906 Willoghby and Ward opened with 'The Man from Mexico", "Mr Hopkinson and "The New Clown" starring Grace Pilotta. He talks about Nelly Stewart's career, the first time he saw a moving picture in 1896 and an 8 week trip to Sydney which cost him 12 pounds 10.

T2207 - Mrs Peak
Mrs Peak describes her dancing career which started in 1919 under the stage name Win Lawrence. Charles Lawrence, her husband, was also a part of the revue. She talks about George Wallace, Marshall Crosby, Paul Stanhope, Tom Haverley, Harry Burgess, Hector Sinclair and Walter George. She was most taken by "The Togos Brothers" acrobatics and pianist and conductor, Fred Stokes. Mrs Peak describes the Australian ballet girls and the revues she travelled with for 12 years. She reflects on the audiences and the Princess Theatre's manager, Mr Hamer, caretaker, Mr Laing and his daughter, Katie.

T2208 - Mrs Bluett.
Mrs Bluett talks about her husband, comedian Fred Bluett, their son, Gus and daughter, Bell. Nelly Stewart, Chinquavelli, Harry Ricard, George Dean, Grace Pilotta and Hugh Ward, Maggie Moore, Leonard Nelson and the Fuller Shows.

T2209 - Mr Kerr.
Mr Kerr first went into the Princess Theatre in 1897; he describes the pit, the audience and theatre admission. Sixty years ago he says it was the centre of the theatrical world in Dunedin. As a musician he played under Fred Stokes and Frank Martinelli in vaudeville and remembers the Williamson Musgrove Opera Company's "Carmen", "Lohengrin", "Il Trovatore" and "The Bohemian Girl" and associated artists. He talks about the Brough-Boucicault Company and Bland Holt and the week's schedule.