Music hall is a type of British theatrical entertainment that was popular from the early Victorian era circa 1850 and lasting until 1960. It involved a mixture of popular songs, comedy, speciality acts, and variety entertainment.
Filmed in 1900 and released 1903, this film directed by Clément Maurice, shows the English performer Little Tich performing his famous ‘Big Boot Dance’.
Born Harry Relph, Little Tich was a 4 foot 6 inch (137 cm) tall English music hall comedian and dancer best known for his seemingly gravity-defying routine accomplished by the wearing of boots with soles 28 inches (71 cm) long. Originally gaining fame as a “blackface” artist, promoters on his 1887 U.S. tour made him drop the act (fearing the British accent would ruin the “illusion”) and so in its place Little Tich developed and perfected his Big Boot Dance, a full 100 years before Michael Jackson would lean in similar fashion for his “Smooth Criminal” music video. Returning to England in the 1890s, Little Tich made his West End debut in the Drury Lane pantomimes and toured Europe before setting up his own theatre company in 1895. He continued to star in popular shows until his death from a stroke in 1928 at the age of 60.
Herman’s Hermits’ pop hit “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” was originally sung by acclaimed actor Tom Courtenay in The Lads, a British TV play of 1963, and released as a single in the UK.
Most of us outside the UK are familiar only with Herman’s Hermits’ version, which rose to number one on the charts in May 1965.
Courtenay came to prominence as in actor in the early 1960s with a succession of films, including The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962), Billy Liar (1963), and Doctor Zhivago (1965). He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for the film adaptation of The Dresser (1983),
The song was written by another British actor, Trevor Peacock, who was also a song and screenwriter.
IN 1925, a musichall comedian who went by the stage-name of Robert Winthrop was touring the cinemas and variety theatres of the Durham coalfield.While entertaining the mining communities, his eye was on another act that was also hopping from booking to booking in the halls: Mrs Stacey’s Young Ladies, a dance troupe, in which Annie “Curly” Quinn starred.
She was the daughter of an Irish comedian, Jimmy Quinn, whereas Robert – born Chaim Reuben Weintrop – was from a Polish Jewish background and had fought in Flanders during the First World War. Continue reading →