The Oojah Bird single work   musical theatre   revue/revusical   humour  
Alternative title: Harem Scarem
Issue Details: First known date: 1924 1924
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Revusical.

Described as a 'bright musical review in which 'George settles the Eastern problem' (Age 4 Jan. 1930, p.20), the story revolves around the shooting of the Oojah Bird, a terrible predatory creature of the skies that has previously devoured the son of a sultan. A bold but bad English hunter offers to kill the bird, but secretly plans to steal the sultan's jewels instead. Among the hunter's party are his wife, the irresponsible Horace (played by George Wallace), and Archie from Piccadilly. A secondary plot sees the hunter impart to Horace his suspicions that his wife is showing too much interest in the sultan (a situation that is said to have provided plenty of amusing dialogue). 'An affair of honour involving a duel with pistols between Horace and the Piccadilly Boy', records the Brisbane Courier, 'has a sensational ending, when the redoubtable Horace fires his pistol above his head and to his own surprise brings down the Oojah Bird. In his gratitude for the destruction of the dreaded bird the Sultan abdicates in favour of Horace, who disports himself in the royal throne, surrounded by his wives, with the regal airs of a Solomon, and the revue ends in a gale of laughter' (25 January 1926, p.11).

In its review of the 1930 Tivoli revival, renamed Harem Scarem, the Age records:

The comedian's best scenes were those with Gwen Matthews at a mock banquet, attempting as Horace to learn the duties of a waiter, and when he stood over the footlights to talk intimately with the audience. For a man who has worked as a cane cutter, done fencing in the bush and fought as a pugilist in the ring, George Wallace's behaviour among the temptations of a harem is decidedly refined. His worst offence was that of an unbeliever touching the bare arm of Una, the Sultan's favourite wife, for which, in the code of the Orient, he was entitled to be shot at dawn (6 January 1930, p.11).

The Argus reports that, in addition to the giant bird of prey, the Sultan's kingdom was also plagued by lions, 'which [were] occasionally disposed of with startling explosions off-stage' (6 January 1930, p.12).

Included among musical items in 1925 were 'I am the Sultan' (sung by Marshall Crosby), 'Rebecca from Mecca' (Lulla Fanning and chorus), 'A Hunter Bold' (Frank Haining and chorus), 'Ethel' (written and sung by George Wallace), and 'If Love Were All' (Marie Nyman). For the 1930 production, Baby Myrtle Gourlay sang 'Broadway Melody.' Other musical numbers included 'Persian Market', 'Popular Melody', and 'Old South Patrol.'

Notes

  • In assessing George Wallace's performance during the 1930 revival, the Argus critic records that the party of hunters 'gives opportunity for the introduction of a good deal of singing, dancing by the ballet, and comedy of the vigorous school to which Mr Wallace belongs. His antics, his peculiar hoarseness and his quips, which introduced such unexpected subjects as elephants in Footscray, greatly amused the audience... Judging by the enthusiasm with which Harem Scarem - and indeed the whole programme - was received the shadow of the talkies and the theatre slump did not rest very darkly on the Tivoli' (6 January 1930, p.12).

  • The Sultan (played by Marshall Crosby) is highlighted in a number of reviews. The Brisbane Courier, for example, describes him as 'dignified and imperious... although over fond of strangling insubordinate wives with a bow-string' (25 January 1926, p.11). An earlier review reports, too, that the Sultan maintained 'the most alluring ménage that ever disported gracefully on a vaudeville stage' (Brisbane Courier 12 October 1925, p.16).

Production Details

  • 1924: Majestic Theatre, Newtown, Sydney, 11-17 October.

    • Director George Wallace; Producer Fullers' Theatres Ltd.
    • Troupe George Wallace Revue Company.
    • Cast incl. George Wallace (Horace), Marshall Crosby (the Sultan), Tom Lincoln, Jack White, George Lloyd, Harry Burgess, Marie Nyman, Nellie Dean, Pat Reid, and the Six Rascals.

    1925: Fullers' Theatre, Sydney, 9-15 May.

    • Director George Wallace; Producer Fullers' Theatres Ltd.
    • Troupe George Wallace Revue Company.
    • Cast incl. George Wallace, Marshall Crosby, Jack White, Tom Lincoln, Marie Nyman, Ivy Moore, Sadie Gale, Nellie Dean, George Lloyd, and the Six Rascals.

    1925: Bijou Theatre, Melbourne, 18-24 July.

    • Director George Wallace; Producer Fullers' Theatres Ltd.
    • Troupe George Wallace Revue Company.
    • Cast incl. George Wallace, Marshall Crosby, Sadie Gale, Olga Muir, Tom Lincoln, Jack White, Nellie Dean, sisters Lulu Fanning and Mercia Elliott, Frederick 'Check' Hayes, Ada Scaddan, and the Six Rascals (incl. Alma Stewart).

    1925: Empire Theatre, Brisbane, 10-16 October (return season: 23-29 January 1926).

    • Director George Wallace; Producer Fullers' Theatres Ltd.
    • Troupe George Wallace Revue Company.
    • Cast incl. George Wallace, Marshall Crosby, Frank Haining (The Hunter), Sadie Gale (The Hunter's wife), Ada Scaddan (her friend), Nellie Dean, Lulla Fanning (Sultan's Wife), Jack White, Frederick 'Check' Hayes (The Slave of the Harem, and the butt of Horace's jokes), Tom Lincoln (Archie), and the Six Rascals (Alma Stewart, Eileen Smith, Hilary Salmon, Phyllis Lough, Doris Whimp, Isobel Broadfoot).
    • Sadie Gale left the company in late October 1925. Her character in this production was later taken over by Marie Nyman.

    1926: Bijou Theatre, Melbourne, 25-31 December.

    • Director George Wallace; Producer Fullers' Theatres Ltd.
    • Troupe George Wallace Revue Company.
    • Cast incl. George Wallace, Marshall Crosby, Marie Nyman, Ada Scaddan, Frank Haining, Tom Lincoln, and the Six Rascals.

    .

  • 1928: Bijou Theatre, Melbourne, 6-12 October.

    • Director George Wallace; Producer Fullers' Theatres Ltd.
    • Troupe George Wallace Revue Company.
    • Cast incl. George Wallace, Marshall Crosby, Marie Nyman, Maida Jones, Ada Scaddan, Frank Haining, Tom Lincoln, Jack Scott, Tom Foggitt; and the Six Rascals.
    • Musicians Five Flaming Youths.

    1930: Tivoli Theatre, Melbourne, 4-10 January (as Harem Scarem).

    • Director George Wallace; Producer Tivoli Celbrity Vaudeville Pty Ltd; Chorus Maurice Diamond.
    • Troupe George Wallace Revue Company.
    • Cast incl. George Wallace, Marshall Crosby, Keith Connelly (the Hunter), Bert Dudley, Tup Dudley, Jim Romaine, Irene Shamrock, Bebe Scott, Leonard Rich, John V. Dobbie, Jack Grant; and the Eight Rascals.
    • Musicians Five Flaming Youths Jazz Band.
    • The cast also included a feature appearance by Baby Myrtle Gourlay (aged three-and-a-half years).

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Works about this Work

Tivoli Theatre - George Wallace in a Sultan's Palace 1930 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 6 January 1930; (p. 11)

— Review of The Oojah Bird George Wallace 1924 single work musical theatre
Revue and Vaudeville - Wallace Company at Tivoli 1930 single work review
— Appears in: The Argus , 6 January 1930; (p. 12)

— Review of The Oojah Bird George Wallace 1924 single work musical theatre
Review of Harem Scarem, a revusical previously known as The Oojah Bird.
Bijou Theatre 1928 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 8 October 1928; (p. 12)

— Review of The Oojah Bird George Wallace 1924 single work musical theatre
Empire Theatre 1926 single work review
— Appears in: The Brisbane Courier , 25 January 1926; (p. 11)

— Review of The Oojah Bird George Wallace 1924 single work musical theatre
Empire Theatre 1925 single work review
— Appears in: The Brisbane Courier , 12 October no. 21128 1925; (p. 16)

— Review of The Oojah Bird George Wallace 1924 single work musical theatre
Bijou Theatre 1928 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 8 October 1928; (p. 12)

— Review of The Oojah Bird George Wallace 1924 single work musical theatre
Empire Theatre 1925 single work review
— Appears in: The Brisbane Courier , 12 October no. 21128 1925; (p. 16)

— Review of The Oojah Bird George Wallace 1924 single work musical theatre
Empire Theatre 1926 single work review
— Appears in: The Brisbane Courier , 25 January 1926; (p. 11)

— Review of The Oojah Bird George Wallace 1924 single work musical theatre
Tivoli Theatre - George Wallace in a Sultan's Palace 1930 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 6 January 1930; (p. 11)

— Review of The Oojah Bird George Wallace 1924 single work musical theatre
Revue and Vaudeville - Wallace Company at Tivoli 1930 single work review
— Appears in: The Argus , 6 January 1930; (p. 12)

— Review of The Oojah Bird George Wallace 1924 single work musical theatre
Review of Harem Scarem, a revusical previously known as The Oojah Bird.

PeriodicalNewspaper Details

Note:
This entry has been sourced from research undertaken by Dr Clay Djubal into Australian-written popular music theatre (ca. 1850-1930). See also the Australian Variety Theatre Archive
Last amended 25 Aug 2014 09:13:23
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