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Harlequin Black 'Hide' Susan and Her Plain Bill single work   musical theatre   burlesque   pantomime   fantasy   humour  
Adaptation of Black-Eyed Susan; Or, The Little Bill That Was Taken Up F. C. Burnand 1866 single work musical theatre
Issue Details: First known date: 1885... 1885 Harlequin Black 'Hide' Susan and Her Plain Bill
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Written expressly for the Federal Minstrels, with 'new locals, dresses, mechanical effects, music, comic scenes, [and] dances' (Sydney Morning Herald 26 December 1885, p.2), this burlesque minstrel pantomime is a loose adaptation, in blackface, of F. C. Burnand's 1866 burlesque of Douglas Jerrold's play Black-Eyed Susan (1829). Unusually, the transformation scene and harlequinade were staged at the start of the production rather than at the end. The extended harlequinade concerned 'the advent on Australia's shores of Captain James Cook.'

The action takes place aboard the H.M.S. Polypheme, and contains a chorus of mermen, mermaids, marines, and sailors. The various sections in the pantomime are:

Scene 1. The Harlequinade;

Scene 2. Grand Transformation;

Scene 3. Second Comic Scene;

Scene 4. Trip: Harlequin and Columbine;

Scene 5. The Soudan Donkey;

Scene 6. 1,000 Leagues under the Sea;

Scene 7. The Funniest Last Scene You Have Ever Seen.

Production Details

  • 1885: Academy of Music, Sydney, 26 December 1885 - 22 January 1886

    • Producer F. E. Hiscocks; Music Director Nicholas La Feuillade.
    • Troupe Hiscocks' Federal Minstrels and Specialty Union.
    • Cast incl. W. Horace Bent (Plain Bill), Sam Keenan (Black-Hide Susan), J. S. Porter (Captain Crosseye), George Turner (Peter Blue), T. Gall (Jack Blowhard), W. A. Ball (Lord High Admiral), Beaumont Read (Yellow Admiral), Lou Braham (Blue Admiral), Edward Amery (Red Admiral), Alf Moynham (Clown, in the harlequinade), Walter Wiseman.
    • 25 performances.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

PeriodicalNewspaper Details


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

Details have also been derived in part from the Annotated Calendar of Plays Premiered in Australia: 1870-1890.

Last amended 16 Oct 2014 11:48:13
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