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Source: Australian Variety Theatre Archive
Huxham's Serenaders i(27 works by) (Organisation) assertion
Born: Established: 1911 ; Died: Ceased: 1926
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BiographyHistory

Along with Edward Branscombe's Dandies companies, Huxham's Serenaders was one of the only permanent costume comedy companies to tour the Antipodes during the 1910s and 1920s. The troupe made its debut season with Ted Holland in Brisbane in 1911 after Huxham, his wife Edith, and her brother had spent some two years touring for Harry Rickards and Fullers' Theatres as The Harmonious Huxhams. Following its Empire Theatre engagement, the troupe travelled throughout Australia and New Zealand almost constantly up until the mid-1920s. (The only breaks in their Antipodean tours were two engagements on the Bandmann Indian circuit tour in 1914 and 1926). The Serenaders' fifteen years of operations saw the troupe engaged by most of the leading variety organisations in Australia and New Zealand, including Harry Rickards' Tivoli Theatres, Holland and St John (Brisbane), John N. McCallum (Brisbane), Birch Carroll and Coyle (Queensland), Dix and Baker (Newcastle), and Cedric Johnson.

The Serenaders was essentially a refined costume comedy company. The troupe featured a high proportion of singing, along with comedy sketches, musical scenas and burlesques, dancing. and other musical performances. It became especially well known for its intricate harmony arrangements (arranged and scored by Hugh Huxham). Edith Huxham also designed and helped create the company's costumes. From around 1918 onwards, Huxham began featuring mini-Oriental extravaganzas, with these having likely been influenced by his experiences touring through India and China. Although the Serenaders initially followed the tradition of costume comedy companies by having only a pianist for accompaniment, Huxham had begun to use an orchestra by 1915.

The extent of the Serenaders' popularity can be seen in both the length of their seasons and the regularity of their return engagements. The troupe's first tour of New Zealand, for Fullers Theatres in 1911, was originally for twelve weeks, but lasted fifteen months. Huxham later secured five summer seasons in St Kilda (Melbourne) between Christmas 1914 and January 1920, and played several lengthy seasons in Brisbane, including fifty-five weeks over 1918 and 1919. The troupe also broke a number of house records during its career, including the attendance record for Hobart's Theatre Royal twice, in 1918 and 1922 (ctd. Brisbane Courier 27 July 1918, p.2 and Theatre Magazine November 1922, p.23).

Among the Serenaders were several performers who went on to carve out long careers in the Australian entertainment industry, notably Syd Burchell, Syd Hollister, Claude Holland, (son of Ted Holland), and Dan Weldon.

Notes

  • 1. HISTORICAL NOTES:

    1.1. The 1914 tour of Maurice Bandmann's Indian circuit was arranged by Hugh D. McIntosh, general manager of Harry Rickards' Tivoli Theatres. The Serenaders were then playing a six-week season in Adelaide for the firm.

  • 2. PERSONNEL:

    2.1. Principal troupe members were Sadie Anderson (1922), W. H. Aye (1922), Pop Batterby (1918-1923), Sydney Burchell (1923), Gladys Campbell (1922), Lena Deane (1922-1923), Reg Harrison (1918-1923), Fred Heraud (1915-1922), Claude Holland (1922-1923), Sydney Hollister (1918-1919), Hugh Huxham (1911-1923), Edith Huxham (1911-1923), Gertrude Johns (1922), Adele Kelly (1915), Madoline Knight (1922-1923), Dora Lyall (1922-1923), Pearlie McKenzie (1918-1919), Gertie McLeod (1915), Nance Maunsell (1915), Ina Milne (1915), Renn Miller (1922-1923), Kitty Morton (1918-1919), Bert Munyard (1922), Paulasto Bros (Ern and Fred, 1922), Les Richmond (1922-26), Olive Seddon (1918-1919), Hugh Steyne (1915), Maud Telfer (1923), Lalla Ward (1919), George Welch (1922-1923), Dan Weldon (1915-1918).

      • Pop Batterby later married J. Foote, a Sydney businessman, and became associated with the Mosman Operatic Society.
      • Syd Burchell appeared in musical comedies and operettas in the 1930s, including The Student Prince (1933).
      • Reg Harrison became a Sydney-based businessman in the 1930s.
      • Fred Heraud's surname is sometimes spelled 'Herand.' He retired from the theatre in the 1930s to join a Hobart-based firm.
      • Syd Hollister joined a Melbourne radio station in the 1930s.
      • Pearlie McKenzie later married Hugh Black and moved to Mackay (Qld).
      • Renn Miller's abbreviated Christian name is sometimes spelled 'Ren.'
      • Les Richmond was conductor and pianist for the Serenaders between 1922 and 1926. In the 1930s, he was organist at Brisbane's Regent Theatre.
      • Olive Seddon moved to Ballarat (Vic) in the 1930s.
      • Dan Weldon joined a number of high-profile revusical companies before taking up a radio career in Sydney in the 1930s as a programme director.

    2.2. Special guest artists included Enid Parker (violin, 1919), Master Walters (violin, 1919).

  • Entries connected with this record have been sourced from on-going historical research into Australian-written music theatre and film being conducted by Dr Clay Djubal.
Last amended 7 Feb 2014 16:07:17
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