Price: $.50; $1 reserved
Variety / Vaudeville
11 May 2016
“Mr. H. D. Palmer will introduce to the American public this evening at Irving Hall, the celebrated artistes Mr. and Mrs. Howard Paul, from the Egyptian and St. James’ Halls, London, where they have performed for one thousand nights in the popular and fashionable musical and comic entertainments outlined in the Herald yesterday morning. This evening Mrs. Howard Paul will sing Henry Russell’s descriptive songs entitled: – ‘The Ship on Fire,’ ‘The Dream of the Reveler,’ and present her extraordinary living photograph of the English tenor, Mr. Sims Reeves. Mr. Howard Paul will give his original sketch, embodying a scene of conjugal life, entitled ‘Ripples on the Lake,’ and sing the old ballad, ‘When George the Third was King.’”
“These vocalists have acquired a very great popularity in London, by their varied and extremely interesting entertainments. They gave there no less than one thousand performances. Mrs. Paul is a singer of rare ability, whose success in the personation of characters has been remarkable. The first public appearance of these celebrated singers will be to-night, at Irving Hall.”
“Mr. and Mrs. Howard Paul, who have long been leading favorites in England, made their debut before an American audience at Irving Hall last night in a ‘musical, comic and characteristic entertainment.’ Mr. and Mrs. Paul belong to the school of free and easy theatricals, which was inaugurated in England by the elder Chas. Matthews, was followed up by his son, the present Matthews, by German Reed, John Parry and Woodin, and of which, in this country, Mr. Alfred Burnett is almost the sole representative, and that an imperfect one. They dispense with scenery, scene shifters and supernumeraries, relying entirely upon their own dramatic abilities and their admirable changes of dress to produce the effects they desire. A draped platform and a pianoforte and pianiste are the only other adjuncts with which they trouble themselves. Yet from these slender materials they produce an admirable and unique entertainment.
In most dramatic representations the farce comes last, except in those not infrequent cases where the tragedy forestalls it. The Howard Paul’s reverse the orthodox arrangement and bring on their farce first. Mr. George Augustus and Mrs. Pauline Clementina Dove have been married six months and Mrs. Dove is already tired of the monotony of married life. She sighs for sentiment, private theatricals, dancing, or even a husband’s jealousy to enliven her existence, and she says as much in making up her matutinal diary. She then retires to the garden, and her husband who, with burglarious foresight, has provided himself with a duplicate key to his wife’s writing desk, possesses himself, at one and the same time, of his wife’s diary and her private sentiments. He there and then registers an audible vow to cure his spouse of her morbid fancies. Over the breakfast table he falls into sentimental rhapsodies over a burnt mutton chop. Improvising a balcony out of a tall clothes horse and a tablecloth, he plays a most impassioned Romeo to his wife’s astonished Juliet; then dances a grotesque French ‘Juna,’ after the style of the Café Alcazar, and finally arouses his wife’s jealousy by confessing a previous passion for ‘Jemima Jane, the beautiful daughter of his late laundress.’ Mrs. Dove by this time has had enough of sentiment, private theatricals, dancing and jealousy, and cries a truce. The diary is produced, and she promises to burn it and never to keep another; her husband, on his part, engages to take her more into society, and the ‘Ripples on the Lake’ are smoothed down very satisfactorily to all concerned.
The piece is intensely English, and, if we must say so, just a trifle snobbish. In his partial efforts to Americanize it Mr. Howard Paul mixes up dollars and ‘thrippences [sic],’ periwinkles and peanuts, Kissengen and Coney Island, in the most perplexing manner. It may be characteristic of high society in England to say ‘Pour-quoi’ on every occasion when simple Anglo-Saxon ‘Why’ would do as well, and to call your wife ‘Cara Mia,’ instead of ‘my dear,’ but an American audience is not quick to appreciate these finical refinements. They suggest the young gentleman with the bumpy forehead at Mr. Veneering’s dinner party, who continually surprised the French gentleman by ejaculating ‘esker’ and then subsiding, his knowledge of the French tongue not extending further. Mrs. Paul’s wonderful acting however enlists the entire attention of the audience, and as a piece of pure unaided dramatic art, her impersonation of Mrs. Dove is really wonderful. Mr. Howard Paul is clever – very clever but is fairly overshadowed by his wife.
This is even more apparent in the separate impersonations which filled up the rest of the evening. A scena in which Mrs. Howard Paul sang Henry Russell’s ‘Dream of the Reveler,’ which was written expressly for her, was almost terrible in its tragic grandeur. In like manner her rendering of the ‘Ship on Fire’ thrilled the entire audience, and elicited a most enthusiastic recall. But the great feature of the evening was Mrs. Paul’s ‘Molly Doolan,’ the Irish nurse. It is not too much to say that this is one of the most perfect Irish characters ever put on the stage. Mrs. Paul would do well to make it the leading figure in future entertainments, instead of her imitation of Sims Reeves, the English tenor. On the other side of the Atlantic the latter representation was an immense success. On one occasion, when the popular tenor was suffering from his chronic ‘indisposition,’ Mrs. Howard Paul appeared in his stead, and none but those in the secret discovered the personation. She mimics Sims Reeves’ foppish way of running his fingers through his hair, his affected clipping of his words, and sings his favorite songs almost as well as he himself can do. But to an audience ninety-nine hundredths of whom have never seen the original, an imitation, however exact, loses much of its point. It was so last night. Mrs. Howard Paul’s voice is a rich contralto, unapproachable in its lower notes, and she controls it with telling effect. Mr. Howard Paul, as ‘The Nephew of My Uncle,’ sang a humorous version of Napoleon’s ‘Life of Caesar’ with comical effect, and as Roger Whitelock, a gentleman of the old school, who regretted the times ‘When George the Third was King,’ he made a decided hit. There was a large and appreciative audience present. Mrs. Paul was recalled after every piece she sang, and was loaded down with bouquets. As a whole, Mr. and Mrs. Paul’s first appearance in America may be set down as a very marked success, and if they will only adapt their representations a little more to American tastes they have genius enough to secure as long and as successful a run in New York as they have had in London.”
This kind of performance is called “drawing room entertainment” in England. We rather dislike this genre and do not find any artistic value in it; however, these two performers honor their good reputation by fitting their roles perfectly. We do think, though, that Mr. Reeves should be a better singer to deserve his English reputation.
“Mr. and Mrs. Howard Paul commenced their first American engagement at this handsome establishment on Monday evening, before a good and fashionable audience. The hall has been prettily fitted up for the occasion, with a neatly draped stage, and such accessories in the way of doors and windows as are needed in the entertainment. The artists themselves come to us with the best of reputations. For many years they have maintained an enviable position before a London audience, and throughout the British possessions they have hosts of friends. Their record in America, we venture to say, will not be different, although, as we are unaccustomed to this kind of performance, we shall need some little time before we become thoroughly accustomed to it.
The programme opened with a little domestic scene called ‘Ripples on the Lake’ – which did not impress us as being particularly brilliant, but which sufficed to show that both Mr. and Mrs. Howard Paul are thoroughly conversant with the stage. After the farce, for such it may be called, the musical portion of the evening commenced, and this, by its diversity and excellence, gave abundant satisfaction. Mrs. Howard Paul possesses a very remarkable voice, which, from its profundity, occasioned the greatest surprise. It is a contralto of excellent quality and extent, round and full in many of its tones like a male tenor. In the imitation of Sims Reeves the peculiarities of this strange but agreeable organ were most successfully illustrated. With the eyes closed - or open, for that matter - it was difficult to tell that a woman was on the stage. The ‘make-up’ of the great English tenor was perfect, and the few mannerisms which he possesses were but slightly exaggerated. The manner in which Mrs. Howard Paul sang the two songs of ‘Eily Mavourneen’ and ‘When other lips,’ was certainly no discredit to the gentleman, and will add to the fame which has already preceded him to these shores. Mrs. Paul was good in other personations, particularly Molly Doolan, the Irish nurse. Two of Henry Russell’s scenas, the ‘Dream of the Reveler’ and the ‘Ship on Fire,’ were declaimed and acted by the lady with excellent emphasis and expression. Both, indeed, were remarkable exhibitions of a facile voice and a clear intelligence guiding it. But we cannot help thinking that Henry Russell’s music has had its day. Mr. Howard Paul sang an amusing medley called the ‘Life of Julius Caesar’ - dressed the while in a costume representing the Emperor Napoleon III. He gave us also two personations – ‘Roger White – one of the old school,’ and ‘Poor Staley Mildew – an outcast.’ The first sketch was a work of art, and worthy of any actor on the New-York stage. It was genial yet quaint. Poor Staley was remarkable mainly for the staleness of his jokes. We have said sufficient to show that the entertainment is a good one, and worthy of the attention of the public. It will be given every night.”
“Mr. and Mrs. Howard Paul commenced a series of their peculiar and popular entertainments at Irving Hall on Monday evening. These artistes have won a brilliant reputation in England, where the entertainments they are now to present to the American public achieved a widespread popularity, being given hundreds of consecutive nights to crowded audiences. Their entertainments are both musical and dramatic, and their talents are warmly eulogized by the English press.”
“The Howard Pauls continue to draw full audiences to Irving Hall. With a change of programme such as we believe they have in contemplation they would be still more successful. A second view of Mrs. Paul’s Molly Doolan confirms us in the opinion previously expressed, that it is one of the most perfect Irish characters ever put upon the stage. The scenas, The Dream of the Reveler and The Ship on Fire, are also surpassingly good and will bear repetition in any future programme. Mr. and Mrs. Howard Paul, if they will drop the English a little and adapt their entertainment a little more to American life and manners, may become one of the institutions of New York. The performance last night was somewhat marred by the facts that Mrs. Paul was evidently suffering from a severe cold, and that the piano was much out of tune.”
“The lyrical stage loses a noble ornament as long as Mrs. Howard Paul remains the chief attraction of the medley entertainments given by herself and her husband. Her voice is one of the most remarkable ever heard in this or any country, and her magnificent rendering of Russell’s scena, ‘The Dream of the Reveler,’ reveals her great dramatic force. We should imagine that Mrs. Paul would be invaluable to the operatic impresario, for not only could she take the contralto parts, but, in case of emergency, she could sing the tenor quite as well as many acceptable singers of the Brignoli persuasion.”
“An entertainment which has been widely and most cordially received in England, is now nightly given at Irving Hall, where Mr. and Mrs. Howard Paul have established their pleasant drawing-room. They have arrived here, indeed, at a somewhat inauspicious time – in view of the powerful rival attractions that are leading captive the pleasure-seekers of the town. Yet there is room for all sorts of novelties in this vast city: and each will find an audience. To meet two clever and accomplished persons, who conduct an entertainment without ‘sticks’ or other disagreeable accessories, is to enjoy a rare and real pleasure. That pleasure we enjoyed, in common with a large audience, on Tuesday evening. Irving Hall, which is always a bright and cheerful place, never wore a cosier [sic] aspect than it did on that occasion. The stage is fitted up to represent a comfortable breakfast-parlor, or drawing-room, and in this the performance proceeds. The green drapery, the white curtains, the light furniture, the bust of Washington, the flowers – all make up a delicious little picture, which is presently animated in a delightful manner, by the songs and characterizations of Mr. and Mrs. Howard Paul. A sort of farce, for two performers, is the first feature. It is called ‘Ripples on the Lake.’ The ‘lake’ is matrimonial life, the ‘ripples’ are slight disturbances, caused by the wife’s dissatisfaction with her lot, and the husband’s humorous endeavors to cure her of the ills of sentimentality. Mr. and Mrs. Paul play this piece with spirit, and neatly enforce the old lesson – that monotony in marriage is to be avoided by all wise persons. The rest of the entertainment - which, however, can be varied, at discretion, in every conceivable way - consists of song. Irving Hall is better adapted for singing than anything else, and no effect is herein lost by Mr. and Mrs. Paul. They alternate in their effects - each song being sung in character. The programme on Tuesday comprised ‘The Dream of the Reveler,’ ‘The Bould Soger Boy,’ ‘The Ship on Fire,’ and an imitation of the English tenor, Sims Reeves, by Mrs. Paul; and ‘The Life of Julius Caesar,’ ‘When George the Third was King,’ and ‘I’m a Twin,’ by Mr. Paul. Each of these efforts displayed a very happy skill in the portraiture of character. Mrs. Paul was especially successful in her personation of the Irish nurse, Mary Doolan, and in her wonderful imitation of Mr. Reeves. She is manifestly an actress of no ordinary powers, and is gifted with a peculiarly strong, rich and clear contralto voice, which it is a positive luxury to hear. Mr. Paul was most successful in his portrayal of old Roger Whitelock, who sings the praises of the times of King George, and in his truly and startling and very funny personation of the Emperor of the French. The entertainment offered by Mr. and Mrs. Paul cannot fail to find favor in this community.”
“Mr. and Mrs. Howard Paul, who have obtained some little celebrity in England in their patch work entertainments, commenced a month’s engagement at Irving Hall, on the 1st inst., under the management of a couple of speculators. They opened to a fair house [illegible] of free tickets for a first night; since then the hall has not been half full any evening during the week, and the ‘latest importation’ failed to make the sensation that had been anticipated by those directly interested in their success. Mr. Paul is not of much account as a performer, and fails to awaken any enthusiasm among his auditors; his Roger Whitelock was his best effort. Mrs. Paul appears to much better advantage than her husband; she is a very clever vocalist, with a rich contralto voice of great compass. In England she is said to have come prominently into notice by her imitation of Sims Reeves, a popular tenor singer. This card she attempted to play here, but as the American people have not seen Sims Reeves, the act was a failure. Her singing of the ‘Ship on Fire’ was well received. The entertainments offered by Mr. and Mrs. Paul may do for a London audience, but they fail to awaken any interest here. Speculators make a great mistake in supposing that every Tom, Dick, and Harry who may have obtained a little notoriety in England can be ‘worked up’ as paying cards in this country.”