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Bo-Peep single work   musical theatre   pantomime   fantasy  
Alternative title: Bo-Peep : The Girl Who Lost Her Sheep; Little Bo-Peep
Issue Details: First known date: 1910... 1910 Bo-Peep
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Subtitled The Girl Who Lost Her Sheep and billed as a gorgeous adult pantomime in two acts, the story 'deals with the love episodes of Bo-Peep, who in this instance has not suffered the loss of sheep, but of a worthy wooer ... Jack Straw, the two fond hearts [having been] kept apart by the orders of the Shah'. He eventually relents, on the condition that Jack perform a heroic deed: the recovery of a watch stolen by the witch Fly-By-Night (Sydney Morning Herald 26 December 1910, p.3).

The settings were as follows: Scene 1. The Witch's Haunt; Scene 2. The Home of Widow Bumpkin; Scene 3. The Palace of the Shah; Scene 4. The Enchanted Castle; Scene 5. Under the Waves (transformation scene).

The music for the songs and dances was performed by the tour's own orchestra. One of the songs written for the pantomime, 'It's Cheap at Half the Price' (sung in 1910 by Drysdale and Francis), included topical hits at the new State Labor government: 'when we double their screw, what a lot they'll do' (Sydney Morning Herald 26 December 1910, p.3).

Songs incorporated into the 1914 productions included 'Oh! The Sea,' 'I'm Little Bo-Peep' (Webb), 'Down a Shady Lane' (Mack and Webb), 'On the Farm,' 'Pearl of Persia' (Terry) 'Throwing Myself Away,' 'I'm the Shah, Tarantara' (Cornock), 'My Bo-Peep' (Mack), 'Arcadia,' 'The Fowls in the Farmyard,' 'Lotus Land,' 'How Are You?' and 'Little Miss Turpentine.'

Notes

  • Bo-Peep was the feature production toured by the company known variously as the Stanley McKay Pantomime Company, the Royal Pantomime Co, Stanley McKay's Mammoth Moving Theatre and Stanley McKay's No 2 Pantomime Company (to distinguish it from the Jim Gerald-led company which toured between 1914 and 1916). Among the performers most associated with the Bo-Peep company were Bruce Drysdale, Phyllis Faye, Vicky Miller, Ella Miller and Esme McLennan. Other notable members included Walter Cornock, Harry Little, Jim Gaffney, Kathleen Mack and Rita Webb. Between 1915 and 1916 the newly formed No 1 company (with Jim Gerald and Essie Jennings) also occasionally staged a version Bo-Peep to support their feature pantomime, Mother Goose.
  • In his 1916 Theatre Magazine interview, 'What About the Rabbits?', McKay indicates that Harry Taylor had written the libretto and music for Bo-Peep in four weeks (p.42).
  • McKay's 1910 Christmas season in Sydney was the first pantomime staged in the city for several years and the only one staged during that holiday season.
  • McKay's 1910/1911 Australian regional tour was presented in a 'mammoth moving theatre', utilising a huge mining tent with a seating capacity of some 2,200. Other productions (authorship unknown) included in the tour were The Carnival Girls (two-act musical comedy) and The Circus Queen (three-act musical comedy).
  • In 1926, McKay toured a pantomime and operatic company around New Zealand and Australia, with Bo-Peep as one of the productions. On 25 October, it had the honour of being the first pantomime ever to be staged in Canberra (at the city's Causeway Hall).
  • The AusStage website incorrectly records that J. C. Williamson was the producer of the Wellington (NZ) season beginning 16 October 1913. No contemporary reports have yet been found which suggest any involvement in the staging of Bo-Peep by that firm. Whenever the production aspects are mentioned during the 1913-14 New Zealand tour only the names George Stephenson and Alf Linley are recorded. The AusStage information appears to have come from the National Library of Australia's J.C. Williamson Pantomime Program' collection. Wellington's Evening Post records in its 11 October 1913 edition, however, that the J. C. Williamson Opera House season was to end three nights later (on Monday 13 October), with Stephenson and Linley's Royal Pantomime Company to follow at the same theatre on the 16th. While it is possible that Williamson's had the lease of the theatre and therefore sub-let it out to Stephenson and Linley, such an arrangement would have negated production credits. This is especially the case with the Bo-Peep company, which undertook the New Zealand tour under the management of Stephenson and Linley in association with McKay.

Production Details

  • Bo-Peep was first produced in Mudgee, New South Wales on 14 November 1910. After playing several regional centres Stanley McKay began a season in Sydney at the Exhibition Building beginning 24 December. The pantomime was subsequently toured throughout Australia and New Zealand on a regular basis by McKay's two pantomime companies through until the 1920s, albeit with a break between May 1916 and ca. 1920 (during which time the entrepreneur was on active military service in Europe).

    While exact production dates for Bo-Peep are often difficult to identify, it was certainly the feature production toured by McKay's Pantomime Moving Theatre Company between the years 1910 and 1911, and also during the 1913-14 New Zealand tour (with the troupe then being billed as the Royal Pantomime Company). In this respect it generally opened each season. Between 1912 and 1916 Bo-Peep appears to have been included as a support production, due to the inclusion of several new pantomimes.

    While Bo-Peep was occasionally staged by another of McKay's troupes - the No 1 Pantomime Company (featuring Jim Gerald as the dame), it was primarily associated with the Moving Theatre/Royal Pantomime troupe (featuring Bruce Drysdale as the dame).

    For a more extensive and inclusive inventory of engagements see the Australian Variety Theatre Archive - 'Works: 1910'), 'Stanley McKay's Pantomime Moving Theatre' and Stanley McKay's No 1 Pantomime Company (sighted 22/04/2014)'

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Works about this Work

Untitled 1926 single work column
— Appears in: Everyone's , 27 October 1926; (p. 5)
Pantomime Under Canvas 1923 single work column
— Appears in: Everyone's , 24 January 1923; (p. 33)
A brief article on Stanley McKay's recent theatrical operations, including his association with Alf Coleman in forming the 'Aldwych' company for a Northern NSW tour.
untitled Harry Kitching , 1916 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Variety , 12 January 1916; (p. n. pag.)

— Review of Bo-Peep Harry Taylor , 1910 single work musical theatre
What About the Rabbits? Stanley McKay , 1916 single work column
— Appears in: The Theatre Magazine , September 1916; (p. 41-43)
Amusements : 'Little Bo-Peep' Pantomime 1915 single work review
— Appears in: The Examiner , 24 May 1915; (p. 3)

— Review of Bo-Peep Harry Taylor , 1910 single work musical theatre
'Bo-Peep' at Exhibition Building 1910 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 26 December 1910; (p. 3)

— Review of Bo-Peep Harry Taylor , 1910 single work musical theatre
'Bo-Peep' Pantomime 1911 single work review
— Appears in: The Northern Miner , 19 June 1911; (p. 4)

— Review of Bo-Peep Harry Taylor , 1910 single work musical theatre
Preview.
'Bo-Peep' Pantomime 1911 single work review
— Appears in: The Northern Miner , 20 June 1911; (p. 3)

— Review of Bo-Peep Harry Taylor , 1910 single work musical theatre
untitled Harry Kitching , 1916 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Variety , 12 January 1916; (p. n. pag.)

— Review of Bo-Peep Harry Taylor , 1910 single work musical theatre
'Little Bo-Peep' : Pantomime at the King's Theatre 1915 single work review
— Appears in: The Mail [Adelaide] , 8 May 1915; (p. 18)

— Review of Bo-Peep Harry Taylor , 1910 single work musical theatre
Pantomime Under Canvas 1923 single work column
— Appears in: Everyone's , 24 January 1923; (p. 33)
A brief article on Stanley McKay's recent theatrical operations, including his association with Alf Coleman in forming the 'Aldwych' company for a Northern NSW tour.
What About the Rabbits? Stanley McKay , 1916 single work column
— Appears in: The Theatre Magazine , September 1916; (p. 41-43)
Untitled 1926 single work column
— Appears in: Everyone's , 27 October 1926; (p. 5)
Mr Stanley McKay and 'Little Bo-Peep' 1910 single work column
— Appears in: The Theatre : An Illustrated Monthly Devoted to the Stage , November 1910; (p. 10)

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 22 Apr 2014 08:11:01
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