Graphics, Image for Whittington and His Cat
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Graphics, Image for Whittington and His Cat
THE   ADELPHI   THEATRE   CALENDAR
A Record of Dramatic Performances at a Leading Victorian Theatre

Formerly the Sans Pareil (1806-1819), later the Adelphi (1819-1900)
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Title:Whittington and His Cat
Description:Scene from the burlesque of Whittington and His Cat, at the Lyceum Theatre.
Theatre:Lyceum
Source:The Illustrated London News, Feb 29, 1845, p. 204
See Source:Go to Source Images (8.7 MB)
Review:The Illustrated London News, Feb 29, 1845, pp. 203-204

LYCEUM.

Having been painted, papered, and re-decorated, this theatre opened on Monday with Farquhar's comedy of “The Recruiting Officer," compressed into three acts; but its reception was not such as to justify its continuance, and it was withdrawn from the bills on Thursday, so that we need say no more about it, except, that as it was stated to be “the first time It had been played for fifteen years," we hope twice that time will elapse before it is again represented.  After the comedy, a new farce was produced, called "The Lowther Arcade," and was nearly condemned, this first night, from the terribly inefficient manner in which it was played.  In fact, the performance was little more than an incomplete rehearsal, but it has since worked up capitally; and goes off with roars of laughter.  Mr. Keeley performs the part of Bonus, the most amiable clerk ever connected with an attorney's office, who has formerly been a teacher at an infant school and was dismissed for making his pupils ill with presents of confectionary.  He will not serve writs when the debtors plead poverty and wishes to prevent people from assuring in his master's office, "The Fireside and Circumnavigating Life Assurance Society," because they will be paying premiums all their lives.  To acquire authority over everybody whose interests he wishes to serve, he assumes the dress of the beadle of the Lowther Arcade, and it may be conceived how very droll Keeley looked in this costume.  There is, of course, a love Plot between Captain Mornington (Mr. Bellingham) and Miss Barnacle (Miss Dawson) a lady-like actress from the Bristol theatre.  Premium (Mr. Meadows) is a clerk, all vinegar and malice, who is punished by finding that, by mistake, he has promoted the happiness of everybody.  The author has aimed at the development of a character rather than the complication of a plot, and has succeeded in his intention.  It is to be regretted that a little more pains were not taken with it on Monday, for which, however, Mr. Keeley apologised.

The entertainments concluded with the new extravaganza of "Whittington and his Cat," written by Messrs.  Albert Smith and Taylor, which promises to rival "Aladdin" and "Valentine."  Whittington and his Cat is a graceful legend--we have few prettier pertaining to English history; and it has the advantage of being a thorough home subject.  A little departure is made from the original story, inasmuch as Whittington accompanies Puss to Morocco; but the leading features remain the same.  We have the arrival of little Dick (Mrs. Keeley) in London, by the Chertsey waggon; his engagement by Master Fitzwarren (Mr. F. Mathews), and ill-treatment by Ursula, the cook (Mrs. Usher).  Then we have his daydream upon Holloway Hill (which our illustration shows), with the song of the old bells; his love for Alice Fitzwarren (Miss Villars); his return, and final venture of his cat, on board the merchant's argosy.  In Act II, we arrive at Mogadore, where Muley Moloch, the "Lion-tamer of the Desert" (Mr. Keeley), is sadly bullied by his French protector, Alcide Belle-Poule (Mr. A. Wigan).  All who remember the portrait of the Prince de Joinville in the ILLUSTRATED NEWS will be struck with the resemblance.  Alice, disguised as a sailor, and Dick, with Puss, are wrecked upon the island, and being found in the harem, are sentenced to death, when Dick offer to free the state from the rats.  A grand battue takes place; the Cat is victorious, and Dick and Alice return to England in the aerial ship of their friends, the fairies, laden with wealth, and leaving Alcide to marry the Princess Zaide (Miss Farebrother).

From the hits and allusions, which the audience seized upon most readily, we take the following, The fairies are complaining of the desecration of the country by enclosures, and the allotment system:--

       Puck.  There's not a hamlet left.
       Goodfellow.  So they complain,
    At Covent-Garden, and at Drury Lane.

Whittington inquires of Dottrell (Mr. Kinloch), Mr. Fitzwarren's shopman, who he is:--

       Dot.  Sir, I'm a gentleman.
       Dick.  No, you're a gent.
       Dot.  Well, what's the difference--that's what I meant.
       Dick.  No, though your "gent."  swears, swaggers, wears fine clothes,
    A Moses doublet and a Doudney hose,
    Drinks, gambles, looks as "spicy" as he can,
    Your "gent."  can never be a gentleman.

The clerks are making their different ventures on board Fitzwarren's ship.  They bring various articles.

       Fitz.  Ah, here's refinement for the native hovels,
    A half-price batch of fashionable novels.
       Dick.  With those on board, we're certain not to drown,
    Do what you will, those novels won't go down.

       Fitz.  What are those paltry, shabby-looking things?
       Dot.  Fashionable circles, or galvanic rings.
    They will cure anything, or I'm mistaken,
    From gout and rheumatiz to hams and bacon.
       Dick.  Perhaps they cured the Pennsylvanians, too;
    Theirs was a case of real tic doloureux.

A hint at frauds in the customs:--

       Fitz.  You'll come the contraband.
       Shipman.  Of course, my beauty,
    England expects each man to do the duty.

A fairy's mission:--

       Puck.  Verjuice!  Amongst the authors take your station,
    And tip their pens with "virtuous indignation."
    ‘Gainst game laws, unions, cheap shirt, raise their gall,
    The line which now-a-days pays best of all;
    Railing at wealth, they win wherewith to dine,
    By high-spiced horror, at so much per line.

A hint to politicians:--

       Alcide.  The rats have gone.
       Dick.  Oh no, that ne'er the case is:
    Rats may change sides, but always keep their places.

The scenery is exceedingly beautiful: we may particularize "Holloway Hill, with old London, by sunset;" "Baynard's Wharf, with the river, and London-bridge and the argosy, the Alice, clearing out with cargo," and the concluding scene of "The Harem."  The piece was admirably performed.  Mrs. Keeley's Dick Whittington was inimitable, and Miss Villars, a new actress from the provinces, will prove a valuable member of the company.  She was encored in a hornpipe.  Mr. Keeley produced roars of laughter by a burlesque of Van Amburgh's brute taming with the Cat, excellently acted by Mr. Collyer; and Mr. Frank Matthews was an effective Master Fitzwarren.  At the fall of the curtain, the applause was most enthusiastic, and the principal performers were called for.  We should not omit a "Pas Styrien" by Miss Farebrother and Mr. Wigan, which was encored.



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Copyright © 1988, 1992, 2013 by Alfred L. Nelson, Gilbert B. Cross, Joseph Donohue.
Originally published by Greenwood Press as The Sans Pareil Theatre 1806-1819, Adelphi Theatre 1819-1850: An Index to Authors, Titles, Performers, 1988, and The Adelphi Theatre 1850-1900: An Index to Authors, Titles, Performers and Management, 1992.
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The Adelphi Theatre Calendar revised, reconstructed and amplified.  Copyright © 2013, by Alfred L. Nelson, Gilbert B. Cross, Joseph Donohue.  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License, with the exception of graphics from The Clip Art Book, edited by Gerard Quinn and published by Crescent in 1990.  These images are reproduced in accord with the publisher’s note, which states "The Clip Art Book is a new compilation of illustrations that are in the public domain.  The individual illustrations are copyright free and may be reproduced without permission or payment.  However, the selection of illustrations and their layout is the copyright of the publisher, so that one page or more may not be photocopied or reproduced without first contacting the publishers."