ROBERT WILLIAMS BUCHANAN (1841 - 1901)

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Tulip Time (1935)

 

Tulip Time
by Worton David, Alfred Parker, Colin Wark and Bruce Sievier (based on The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown by Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe (Harriett Jay)).
London: Alhambra Theatre. 14 August, 1935. (425 performances).

The musical score of Tulip Time was published by Francis, Day & Hunter Ltd. in 1938 (124 pp.) and the libretto was also published by Samuel French in 1939 (79pp).

An earlier version of Tulip Time had been tried out at several venues on the south coast (including Brighton, Eastbourne and Folkestone) in August, 1933 under the title, Sweet Seventeen.

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[From the Sussex Express (28 July, 1933 - p.8).]

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[From The Dover Express and East Kent News (4 August, 1933 - p.6).]

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[From the Hastings and St. Leonards Observer (5 August, 1933 - p.8).]

 

Hastings and St. Leonards Observer (5 August, 1933 - p.9)

     DEVONSHIRE PARK THEATRE.—The delightful musical play, “Sweet Seventeen,” will be presented at Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, by a strong cast, including Jean Colin, Muriel Aked, Basil Howes, and Roy Byford. The attraction during the latter half of the week will be the famous musical comedy, “No, No, Nanette,” the show that sent London wild with delight. Patrons are asked to note that the evening performances at this theatre, in response to many requests, now begin at 8.15, and there are matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at the usual hour of 2.30.

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Folkestone Herald (5 August, 1933 - p.4)

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. . .

“Sweet Seventeen.”

     From Thursday next, Pleasure Gardens Theatre audiences will have an opportunity of seeing the prior-to-London production of a musical extravaganza presented by Miss Anne Croft, the well-known musical comedy actress.
     Apart from her stage activities, her flair for casting is recognised all over the theatrical world, and her selection of Jean Colin for the leading part in this musical play of schoolgirl life has been unanimously approved in Brighton where the premiere took place.
     Jean Colin is ably supported by Jenny Dean, and both these young actresses have made tremendous “hits” in revivals of old-time favourites, such as “The Belle of New York,” “San Toy,” and “Miss Hook of Holland” at Daly’s Theatre, London. Muriel Aked, the well-known screen and stage star, needs no introduction to discerning playgoers, and in “Sweet Seventeen” she takes the part of a schoolmarm with technique and point. The masculine side of the cast is upheld by Basil Howes, Leslie Laurier (son of Jay Laurier), and Roy Byford. Most of the lyrics have been written by Bruce Sievier of “Blase” fame.
     Performances will be nightly at 8 o’clock, with a matinee on Saturday at 2.30 p.m.

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(p.7)

“Sweet Seventeen.”
     Folkestone will have a special interest in “Sweet Seventeen,” when the play comes to the Pleasure Gardens Theatre next week.
     Bruce Sievier, who wrote the lyrics of the play, was before the War a resident of Folkestone for many years.
     Many people in the West End will recall his mother, Lady Mabel Sievier, who was also well known to pre-war Folkestone. Mr. Sievier was a prominent figure in amateur theatricals in the town in those days.
     Since then he has gone on to higher things, and in addition to the lyrics for “Sweet Seventeen,” he has also written lyrics for “Bow Bells” and other London productions.

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Folkestone Herald (12 August, 1933 - p.11)

Pleasure Gardens Theatre

“Sweet Seventeen.”
     “Sweet Seventeen,” a new musical extravaganza, opened a three days’ engagement at the Pleasure Gardens Theatre on Thursday evening.
     “Sweet Seventeen” has been chosen for London presentation shortly, and its future should be a happy one for those sponsoring the show, Anne Croft, Ltd., a name which immediately recalls Miss Croft’s own triumphs in musical productions.
     Collectively and individually, it is a delightful piece of stagecraft, for there is a very satisfying blend of lilting music, catchy songs and fun.
     Miss Croft has chosen a company which includes many well-known names in the theatre world. There are, for instance, Miss Jean Colin, one of the West End’s most charming and delightful players; Miss Muriel Aked, an actress with a distinguished stage and screen career; Miss Jenny Dean, a clever comedienne; Mr. Basil Howes; Mr. Leslie Laurier, a son of the Jay Laurier, and Mr. Roy Byford.
     The story is set in Holland, and the chief events happen in a young ladies’ finishing school, into which two young men in love “gate crash” in order to see their loved ones. Here is a situation not new but nearly always a great laughter provoker.
     “Sweet Seventeen” will be played again to-day (Saturday), at 2.30 and 8 o’clock, and a visit to the Theatre will assure you of three happy hours.

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The Sunderland Echo and Shipping Gazette (12 August, 1933 - p.7)

     Among the work that is going on in British studios at the moment, I notice that Muriel Aked has a gem of a character part in “Friday the 13th,” which is being completed at the Gainsborough Studios. Emlyn Williams and Belle Chrystall are also playing in it.
     There is no one quite like Miss Aked, whose clipped, cut and concise speech is a treat to hear.
     She is one of the few actresses who divide their allegiance between the stage and the screen and never deserts one or the other for a great length of time.
     After her latest film is finished, she will rehearse her part in “Sweet Seventeen,” which is to go on at the Winter Garden Theatre after a short provincial tour.
     In this play Miss Aked has the part of a stern school mistress.
     It is well known that she carefully considers every role that she is asked to play before accepting it, and has never appeared in a film or a play—no matter how remunerative—if she does not feel that it is suitable for her particular style.
     At the very start of her career, when as a young, ambitious actress she received her first chance to appear in London, she rejected the leading part that was offered her, asking instead for a microscopic part, which she considered offered greater possibilities for her.

[Note: If the 1933 version of Friday the 13th has piqued your interest the film is available on Free-Classic-Movies.com.]

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The Hull Daily Mail (24 August, 1933 - p.7)

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The Yorkshire Evening Post (2 September, 1933 - p.5)

Anne Croft Gets Busy.
     Anne Croft, who now appears well established as a theatrical proprietress, tells me she will be very busy shortly with the production of a new piece, to be called “The Girls of Vanderloo.” Jean Colin, lately touring in “La Poupee,” will be the leading lady. The show has recently had a successful preliminary trial but under the title, “Sweet Seventeen.”

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[Programme for Tulip Time at the Alhambra Theatre, London, 12th October, 1935.]

 

The Stage (18 July, 1935 - p.8)

“Tulip Time.”
    
During the first week of August Anne Croft will present at the Alhambra, by arrangement with Sir Oswald Stoll, a musical comedy entitled, “Tulip Time,” which she originally produced in the provinces. The play is based on the old farce entitled “The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown,” by Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe (Harriett Jay). This was originally produced at the Vaudeville in 1895 and revived in 1901 at the Court. For musical purposes it has been adapted by Worton David and Alfred Parker, with a score by Colin Wark. The lyrics are by Bruce Sievier and additional music and lyrics by Hubert W. David. Miss Croft will not be appearing in it herself, but is jointly producing the play with Stephen Thomas. In the cast, which is practically completed, will be Jean Colin, Bernard Clifton, Betty Huntley Wright, Wendy Toye, Steve Geray, George Gee, Eva Grossmith, and Joan Fred Emney. The dances will be arranged under the direction of Buddy Bradley. “Tulip Time” is to be produced twice each evening at the Alhambra, at 6.15 and 9 o’clock, and there will also be two matinées during the week.

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The Times (15 August, 1935 - p.8)

THE ALHAMBRA.

“TULIP TIME”

     An adaptation by WORTON DAVID and ALFRED PARKER of a play by ROBERT BUCHANAN and CHARLES MARLOWE. Music by COLIN WARK.

Angela Brightwell
Hazel Pears
Miss Schnapps
Jepson
Carl Vincent
Hope
Miss Gandersluis
Midge
Mirabelle
Postman
Naryshkinsky
Varel Naryshkinsky
Humperdinck

Jean Colin
Betty Baskcomb
Sydney Fairbrother
George Gee
Bernard Clifton
Ena Grossmith
Joan Fred Emney
Miki Gordon
Marion Gerth
Edgar Driver
Frederic Franklin
Wendy Toye
George Hayes

     The State of Vanderleue, in which the scene is laid, has, though itself imaginary, a certain variable affinity with Holland—a canal, for example, that enables those who are in maritime mood to enter by barge, an abundance of windmills chiefly poised on mountains that rise in abundant purple from the dykes, and, of course, tulips. Not natural tulips, alas, but female and choral tulips, lavishly limelit, and so fussy, so mixed, so messy in their imitation of that sculptural flower that the ballet in which they are engaged is more like an ice-cream vendor’s dream of a mixed drink than any bed of tulips within our fevered recollection.
     In this décor the humour rages and an assembly of tap-dancing policemen beat their agile feet. Two men (Mr. Bernard Clifton and Mr. Steve Geray) dress up as young girls, and make their way into a girls’ school, conducting themselves there with a propriety assured to nervous devotees of Byron by a marriage in the first act. Miss Jean Colin prettily decorates the heroine’s romance; Mr. George Gee sings songs and tells nursery stories with what spirit a man may in affliction; Miss Ena Grossmith, Miss Joan Fred Emney, and Miss Sydney Fairbrother do their best, and the brass in the band is brazen. That the entertainment may please those for whom it is intended is suggested by the applause, and must be recorded; but this is no consolation to those of us who, as each joke thuds upon us, are tempted to cry out: “But surely this is very bad, even in its own kind!”

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The Observer (18 August, 1935 - p.11)

The Week’s Theatres.
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Alhambra.

“TULIP TIME.”

An adaptation by Worton David and Alfred Parker of a play by
Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe. Music by Colin Wark.
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     The head-mistress of the academy for young ladies, in whose dormitories the heart of this hullaballoo raged, confessed that she hardly knew whether her establishment was a girls’ school or a night club. We shared her uncertainty. But when tulip time is delayed until August, anything may happen in such a school, from flying pigs to strange bedfellows. They happened here.
     The tulip fields on which the curtain joyfully rose were certainly florid. Hills peeped o’er hills, with windmills dutifully thick upon them; and the middle distance of this imaginary State of Vanderleue was as unlike sober Holland as musical comedy scene-painters could make it. But in such entertainment, only pedants would desire topographical, ethnological and other local niceties.
     Picturesquely speaking, the prettiest notes, I thought, were those struck by the little scarlet jacket in which Miss Sydney Fairbrother so tactfully concealed the fact that her part was a thin one, and the poses of Miss Wendy Toye and her cavalier, Mr. Frederic Franklin, in a ballet scena that defies kind description. These rare gestures to beauty acknowledged, one may approach the major issues of an entertainment that was out above all to amuse, and at moments heartily succeeded.
     The plot achieved its most shattering stroke when Messrs. George Gee, Bernard Clifton, and Steve Geray—three ill- assorted members of a flying mess—sought escape from a matrimonial mess via the petticoats and mature and nubile simpers of a matron and her two daughters. Their arrival at the academy, the enrolment of the “girls,” and the havoc they caused there may be taken for granted. It is difficult to say which was the more absurd, Mr. Gee’s sophisticated chic, as the mother, or Mr. Geray’s cleverly assumed Fifth Form gaucherie. More certain were the uproar that ensued when the two new “girls” were bedded down for the night, and the valiant efforts of the entourage to skate over the thin ice of thawing farce without falling in.
     A tap-dancing, ditty-abetting chorus of schoolgirl-cooks and aeronaut-policemen punctuated the narrative disorder with dutiful vigour, or ran about among us, up and down the Alhambra aisles, band-provoked and spot-light conducted. Miss Jean Colin steadied the heroine’s solos, and Miss Ena Grossmith reminded us of what a good clown she can be in happier circumstances.
     The show has noise vigour, too much colour, and the rough kind of seasonable fun this large popular house enjoys. It makes no advance in over-explored territory, but marks time there with dust-raising confidence. The music seemed reminiscent, the dialogue subservient to the patter, and the patter at the mercy of the experienced comedians who did it justice. A full house enjoyed it all thoroughly.

                                                                                                                                                             H.H.

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The following page is taken from the Over The Footlights site.

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And the Keeping Score site has a list of recordings from Tulip Time:

Aces Of The Air
1. 78/HMV C-2774 (Brian Lawrence with the New Mayfair Orchestra conducted by George Scott Wood)

I Like You
1. 78/HMV C-2774 (New Mayfair Orchestra conducted by George Scott Wood)

Noah Had Two Of Everything
1. 78/HMV C-2774 (Brian Lawrence with the New Mayfair Orchestra conducted by George Scott Wood)
2. Vintage British Comedy Vol. 10, CD/Fast Forward Records 2679 (unknown performer) (unverified)

Sailing With The Breeze
1. 78/HMV C-2774 (New Mayfair Orchestra conducted by George Scott Wood)

When You’re Only Seventeen (aka “Sweet Seventeen”)
1. 78/HMV C-2774 (Brian Lawrence with the New Mayfair Orchestra conducted by George Scott Wood)

Programme for Tulip Time at the Alhambra Theatre, London, October 12, 1935.

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Here’s a photo of the Alhambra Theatre, Leicester Square, during the run of Tulip Time.

 

Finally, on the British Pathé site there is a 1935 clip of George Gee “the famous West End Comedian from ‘Tulip Time’” talking about shirts.

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Back to The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown

The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown - continued

Bibliography or Buchanan’s Music

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Next: The Romance of the Shopwalker (1896)

 

Home
Biography
Bibliography

 

Poetry
Plays
Fiction

 

Essays
Reviews
Letters

 

The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law

 

The Critical Response
Harriett Jay
Miscellanea

 

Links
Site Diary
Site Search