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Babes in the Wood (Josh Barry & Edmund C. Brierley)
December 21 - 23: Alexandra Theatre, Widnes, England
December 26 - January 1906: Theatre Royal and Opera House, St Helens, England

February: Her Majesty's Opera House, Blackpool, England

(Information above on performance dates is derived from newspaper archives and is therefore likely to be incomplete.)


Mr J. Gar Kiddie produced on Thursday evening, at the Alexandra Theatre, Widnes, before a crowded house, his pantomime of Babes in the Wood. Mr Josh Barry is responsible for the libretto, which is exceedingly smart. For a first night, everything went with remarkable smoothness, the whole production showing signs of careful and conscientious rehearsal.

The story is told in eleven scenes, which are well contrived and arranged. Some of the stage settings are remarkably fine, and the scenes of the Village of Golden Grain, The Enchanted Wood, and The Baron's Kitchen came in for loud and spontaneous applause.

The music has been written by Mr Edmund C. Brierley, and is catchy and tuneful. All the principals have excellent numbers. And take full advantage of the opportunity afforded them.

Miss Mabel Engleheart is an admirable principal boy, singing and dancing her way very speedily into the affections of her audience. She has been fortunate in obtaining several capital songs, the point of which the artist brings out in really clever fashion. Possibly, the most popular is "Riding on top of the car," with an action chorus adding largely to the effect. Her duet with Miss Adeline Yohle (Maid Marian), entitled "Little glow worm," went with a great swing.

Miss Yohle is a charming principal girl, with a style of the prettiest. Her rendering of ‘'I wouldn't leave my little wooden hut for you," fairly brought down the house. The Sisters Gaye have, to use an Americanism. "walked right into" the parts of the Babes, Harold and Lucy. Very pretty and young artists they are, and the wonderful reception they obtained for their singing of “ My Irish Molly O" was well deserved. Miss Maude Western and Miss Nellie Dyson are admirable in the parts of Will Scarlet and Merry Mavis. Their singing is sweet, and all their work characterised by good taste.

Mr Kiddie has been happy in the choice of comedians, having secured clever artists and indefatigable workers. It is hardly possible to say too much of Mr James Kurry, who plays the wicked uncle, Sir Brokah de Pawn, on the drollest lines. His appearance was the signal constantly for roars of hearty and oft-renewed laughter. He has a couple of good songs in "Come out of that " and “ Philosophy." Mr Chas. Neary will soon begin to revel in the part of the village schoolmistress, Araminita Koffkake. His witty sallies with Mr Jas. Kurry were much to the taste of the house.

Mr James Salter has found a part to suit him in Soft Sammy, and his eccentricities provoke much laughter. His comical animal pal, War Hoffis, does the "donkey" work (in a dual sense) admirably. The bungling ruffians, without which no pantomime of Babes in the Wood would be complete, find funny and capable representatives in Mr D. J. Tandy and Mr J. P. Moran. Their singing of "Are ye asleep?" is a feature altogether out of the ordinary.

Mention should certainly be made of Miss Jenny Clare, who, as a lady detective (Hairlock Combs), plays a novel part in a style which marks her as a talented comedienne. Mr Leonard Charles has a good tenor voice, and as the demon Infernalito he renders several musical numbers tunefully and well. Miss Grace Olivia is a capital full as the fairy queen, Sylvania. The chorus is powerful and tuneful, and bears evidence of having been well grounded in their work.

The specialities of the pantomime include the Brothers Wye, who are responsible for a daring and unique "trap act" in the Baron's Kitchen scene. The Lorenz Quartette is an acquisition to the cast; and the Lizette troupe of lady dancers uphold the reputation they have already established for themselves in Widnes. Byrne and Mannion are two juvenile artists who do a “turn” teeming with merit.

On the evening of production, the local orchestra (under the baton of Mr Ernest Wolfe) distinguished themselves. The handling of the elaborate scenery by the local staff was also in every way creditable.

Mr J. Gar Kiddie supervised the production personally, and was the recipient of his usual well-earned "call" at the close. Madam Thompson is responsible for the ballets and grouping; Mr James Anderson and assistants for the mechanical changes and effects; and Mr Fred Bibby for the elaborate properties. Mr Harry Wys is stage-manager of Babes in the Wood; Mr Robert Kiddie is general-manager of the production.

The show concludes with a good old-fashioned “transformation" and harlequinade, in which Messrs Harry Wys and Charles Wys appear with Miss Fenella Lohrenz and Miss Marion May.

The Era, Saturday 23 December 1905
found at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk