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A Programme for the Alhambra Theatre, Leicester Square in 1873

 

Page one of the Alhambra Theatre, Leicester Square Programme for 1873 Account put together from newspaper cuttings of 1874 and other original sources.

Miss Kate Santley had begun her career in music halls and had performed at the Oxford, the famous Music Hall at the end of Oxford Street which was later to become a Lyons Corner House and is now a Virgin store. If you view the building from Tottenham Court Road, you can see a little pavilion on the roof-top line which was part of the original building. Here she was described as' Ah ! so slender and so slim. She bewitched all beholders !'

Page Three of the Alhambra Theatre, Leicester Square Programme for 1873 Her first appearances at the Alhambra seem to have been in 1872 in 'The Black Crook' and these were followed by 'La Belle Helene' in 1873 when the male role of Paris was taken by Rose Bell.

Later that year Kate sang Cunegonde in 'Le roi Carotte', another Offenbach piece.

Page Two of the Alhambra Theatre, Leicester Square Programme for 1873 But in 1874 she achieved something of a theatrical coup, or perhaps you would call it notoriety… whatever, it hit the headlines and made her a 'must-see' artist of the season.

During some performances in March of a musical 'Don Juan' in which Rose Bell was the Don and Kate was Haidee, she had been hissed off the stage by a claque formed to applaud her' rival' Rose Bell. Kate applied to magistrates through her solicitor for summonses against them. Miss Bell wrote to the Standard saying that she and her friends had not formed a party to ruin Kate.

The article in the paper goes on to praise Rose Bell for her magnanimity and wonders if Kate will go elsewhere to be queen of a rival claque.

On March 28th 1874, on the Saturday night after the article appeared there was bedlam at the theatre. Kate had ovations at her every entry, outdoing Rose who experienced some hissing. Rose never lost her presence of mind and she was carried after the performance to her room fainting and was driven from the stage after the final curtain! Kate won the day.

Page Three of the Alhambra Theatre, Leicester Square Programme for 1873 In performances of 'La jolie parfumeuse' which followed later that year, Kate and Rose were on the stage again together though by the November, Rose appeared in the revival of' 'Le roi Carotte' but Kate did not.

However, there is nothing sinister in that as Kate was learning her role of Whittington for the Boxing Night premiere of this totally new Offenbach piece, written especially for the Alhambra.

Kate was later to undertake company-management like other ladies of her profession and indeed not long after her performances in Whittington in 1875, she reopened the New Royalty Theatre as manager where patrons flocked in such numbers that several 100s were unable to gain admission.

She was presenting once again,' La jolie parfumeuse' which she first performed in 1874, at the Alhambra, just before the Christmas season opened. She must have been rehearsing Whittington even as she sang the pretty perfumeress !

Leon A. Perdoni 2005.

All images above are from an Alhambra Theatre Programme for 1873 - Courtesy Leon A. Perdoni.  

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