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The Evening Xews, Friday, March 13, 1953

"fifty Years Ago

Evenin9 News



to






GAIETY CHRONICLES

By JOHN HOLLINGSHEAD







JOHN HOLLINGSHEAD



Gaiety Chronicles

By John Hollingshead



The earth hath bubbles as the water hath
And these are of them "



WESTMINSTER
ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE & CO

2 Whitehall Gardens
1898



BUTLER & TANNER,

THE SELWOOD PRINTING WORKS,

FROME, AND LONDON.



To

MY BROTHER JOURNALISTS

WHO DID NOT SPARE THE ROD AND

DID NOT SPOIL THE CHILD



2046915



NOTE

IN compiling this book at the express wish of my
publishers, I have to thank the London Stereoscopic
Company, Mr. Bassano, Messrs. Downey & Son, the suc-
cessors to the late Samuel Walker, Mr. W. H. Coombes
(the proprietor of The Entf acte], Mr. Bryan, the artist, Vanity
Fair (" Prosperity "), Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic
News, Graphic, etc., for valuable aid in the illustrations, and
Messrs. Sampson Low & Co., the publishers of my Auto-
biography, which I have had to quote in several places.



JOHN HOLLINGSHEAD



LONDON
June, \\



CONTENTS

CHAPTER I
The Theatre

PAGE

The Strand Theatres in the Sixties Morning Post Taverns
Household Words Charles Dickens' Workshop
Exeter Arcade "Strand Musick Hall" Site of Gaiety
Theatre Mr. Lionel Lawson Building commenced
Gaiety named after the Parisian House The Company
of Players engaged Mr. Grieve to make Scenery
Captain Alfred Thompson to design the Costumes
Builders threatened with an Injunction Scenery burnt
Repainted All Difficulties overcome i



CHAPTER II
The Opening No Fees

The Cost of the Building Compared with other Theatres
Workmen insist on staying to Opening Performance
The Original Prospectus Guests at First Performance
Opening Programme Congratulations from Literary
Friends Abolition of all Fees Electric Light The
despised "Sixties" Gaiety Restaurant Difficulties in
getting License Changes of Programme The Gaiety
Gazette Mr. Toole's First Appearance in Uncle Dick's
Darling H. J. Byron G. A. Sala Furnishes a Burlesque

ix



CONTENTS

PAGE

The First " Manifesto" The Benefit System Offen-
bach's Opera introduced M. Offenbach's first and only
Visit to London ' . 47



CHAPTER III
The Programme

Managers' Sneaking Kindness for Legitimate Drama A Dip
into the Brackish Well of Ancient Comedy Charles
Reade on Macbeth Charles Reade's Store of Master-
pieces Comfort appreciated by the Public Complete
Ventilation A Bill of Four Pieces Italian Opera Mr.
Santley in Zampa Theatrical Advertisements The
Gaiety Methods Fire at the Restaurant . . .129



CHAPTER IV
Invention of the Matinee Infinite Variety

The Greatest Variety Theatre in the World" Mr.
Santley in Fra Diavolo As "Tom Tug" Success
of Aladdin II. Captain Thompson's Cretonne Dresses
The Admiration of Duchesses The First Matinee
Critics live in the Gaiety The Matine'e the Means
of introducing Talent The First Matinee Pro-
gramme Appearance of Mrs. Keeley Re-appearance
of Mr. Santley Lortzing's Peter the Shipwright Fol-
lowed by Balfe Fantaisies Parisiennes Company A
Legitimate Season directed by Mr. Walter Montgomery
Excitability of M. Emile Jonas Principal Drummer
protests in Forcible Language Infinite Variety Gilbert
and Sullivan collaborate for the First Time Song and

Dance on Ash Wednesday 168

x



CONTENTS

CHAPTER V
The Literary Drama

PAGE

Charles Reade's Shilly-Shally Mr. Toole and Miss Farren
revel in the Comedy Charles Reade's Action against
Morning Post Purity of Plays Duty of Lord Chamber-
lain Responsibility of Managers Morality not in the
Managerial Department Charles Mathews' First Appear-
ance at the Gaiety His Letter in reply to Begging Letters
The great Gas Strike Chas. Mathews' Speech at
Close of Engagement The "Dancing Quakers" Lord
Chamberlain saw no Impropriety Shoreditch " Penny
Gaff" supplies the Gaiety with Talent A Tall Order
addressed from St. John's College, Cambridge Great
Music Hall Entertainment on Ash Wednesday The
Licensing Act of 1872 Closes up Connection between
Theatre and Restaurant According to Act of Parlia-
ment Letter from Eyre M. Shaw " Molly-coddling
Legislation" Dodging an Act of Parliament . .211



CHAPTER VI
A Theatrical Treadmill

English Operas at the Matinees A Retrospective Review
An Extensive Country Tour " Comforts of a Club "
Burlesque by Mr. F. C. Burnand Partnership with Mr.
Chas. Morton " Nine Days' Wonder " Messrs. Phelps,
Toole, and Mathews in Same Cast Seats all booked
Two Months in Advance Orchestra turned into Stalls
Henry J. Byron as a Joker Peculiar Method of Re-
hearsing Evolution of Burlesque At Gaiety in
" Short " Clothes At Savoy in " Long " Clothes and in
the Nineties in " Plain " Clothes A Title of Abnormal
Length La Fille de Madame Angot .... 240
xi



CONTENTS

CHAPTER VII

Shakespeare Taste and the Musical Glasses-
Ash Wednesday Charles Mathews

PAGE

Merry Wives of Windsor The Most Photographed Young
Lady in the World Mr. Swinburne's Poem Music by
Arthur Sullivan Liberal Support of the Press Mr.
Arthur Sullivan's Letter on Band Parts A Weighty
name in a Court of Law Tribute to Mr. Phelps Mr.
Forbes Robertson as a Portrait Painter Mr. Arthur
Cecil in Society Partiality for Pie The Great Fight
against Ash Wednesday Restrictions Protest signed by
491 Persons Lord Rosebery's Support Provocative
Advertisements The Veto finally Removed by a Con-
servative Government Letter from Lord Rosebery
Novelists and Unauthorized Stage Adaptation A French
Comic Opera Company Mr. Toole's Return from
America Mr. Charles Mathews His Financial Troubles
Tour Round the World Great Reception at the Gaiety
Controversy over De Balzac's Mercadet My Awful
Dad Mr. Gladstone goes " Behind " at the Gaiety
The Drawing Power of Charles Mathews Speech by
Charles Mathews Last Appearance in London List of
Plays written or adapted, and Characters created by
Mr. Charles Mathews Mr. Hollingshead's Tribute to
Mr. Charles Mathews . . . . . . .267



CHAPTER VIII
Gaiety Burlesque

Gaiety as the " Aunt Sally " of the Critical Press Musical
Comedy and Variety Theatre Sketches The Celebrated
Gaiety Quartette Ladies from the Music Halls success-
ful at the Gaiety Henry J. Byron as an Actor Friction
xii



CONTENTS

PAGE

with the Times Return of Mr. Toole Fire Panic in
London Benefit to John Parry The Programme
Various Benefits 329



CHAPTER IX
French Plays and the Electric Light

The Comedie Franchise The Contract List of Societaires
The British Public upset the Traditions of the Theatre
Frangais Sarah Bernhardt created a "Star" Detailed
List of Representations "Sarah" Nights affect the Box
Office Madame Bernhardt finds her Commercial Value
She makes an Agreement to come again The Palais
Royal Company More French Plays and French Com-
panies Madame Titiens plays a Joke on the Musical
Director and Stage Manager Letter from G. A. Sala
Mr. J. A. McN. Whistler caricatured by Consent An
Amateur Pantomime Rehearsals at Midnight Street
Lighting in London in 1878 Electric Light introduced
Professor Erasmus Wilson's Prophecy Letter to the
Times A Good Advertisement ..... 360



CHAPTER X

The American Drama The Parsee Drama
and Curtain

Thackeray adapted by F. C. Burnand Miss Jenny Hill at
the Gaiety Tenth Anniversary Henry IV. Defend-
ing Authors in Advertisements Desecrating Shake-
speare "The Sacred Lamp of Burlesque" Twelfth
Manifesto Thirteenth Manifesto Fourteenth Mani-
festo Fifteenth Manifesto Neglected Dramas George
Barnwell Castle Spectre Melodrama excites Merri-
xiii



CONTENTS

PAGE

ment Hanlon-Lees^- Death of Mr. Lionel Lawson
Gaiety a Theatre-Militant Dodging the Local Board
Mr. Toole becomes his own Manager Gulliver, a Bur-
lesque in Four Acts Four Hundred Performers enter
Stage Door every Night Mr. Penley and the Hanlon-
Lees Pure Pantomime American Plays Colonel Sel-
lers Mr. and Mrs. Florence The Mighty Dollar
Miss Constance Gilchrist's Success as a Leading Juvenile
Tribute to Mr. Florence First Appearance of Ibsen
on English Stage Miss Litton's Matinees Anti-Fire
Notice " Amateur Scavengers " Another French Sea-
son Amateur Irish Company Manager's Financial
Obligations Ali Baba Mr. Hollingshead suffers from
Typhoid Fever Gaiety and Empire turned into Small
Joint Stock Company A Good " Loser " Death of
George Moore, the Faithful Door-keeper Partnership
with Mr. George Edwardes Seventeenth Anniversary
Parsee Dramatic Company Mr. George Edwardes
has Sole Control Dinner to Mr. Henry E. Dixey
Mr. Dixey's Generous Offer Recapitulation by the
Manager of the Greatest Variety Theatre in the World
ji, 000,000 paid to the Profession ^25,000 realized
by Benefits A Booth in Vanity Fair Mr. Fred Leslie
Mr. Hollingshead's Tribute to Miss Farren Miss
Nellie Farren's Recent Benefit -Her Early Training
Reigned Supreme in Burlesque No Use for Under-
studies The Best " Principal Boy " since Ladies were
introduced into Drama An " Anti-Gaiety " Public
Mr. Hollingshead blackballed at the Reform Club
" Anti-Gaiety-ite " a Manufacturer of Pink Silk Tights
Quotation from the Muse's Looking- Glass An Anony-
mous Letter Escape from Testimonials " Keepsake "
from the Theatre Cleaner A Gnostic Gem of the Second
Century Curtain 392

List of Pieces Performed at the Gaiety Theatre, 1868-1886 459
Index . . . . . . . . . -477

xiv



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



Frontispiece. CARTOON MR. JOHN HOLLINGSHEAD

" HOUSEHOLD WORDS " OFFICE 1 1

MR. JOHN HOLLINGSHEAD 15

MR. C. J. PHIPPS ........ 19

"PROSPERITY". ........ 25

MR. ALFRED WIGAN . . . . . . .31

Miss MADGE ROBERTSON (MRS. KENDAL) . . -35
MR. ROBERT SOUTAR . . . . . .41

Miss EMILY FOWLER . . . . . . -51

Miss CONSTANCE LOSEBY ...... 63

MRS. JOHN WOOD 77

MR. JOHN CLAYTON 85

MR. SAMUEL EMERY 91

Miss ADELAIDE NEILSON. ...... 95

MR. HENRY J. BYRON . . . . . . . 101

MR. HENRY IRVING (SiR HENRY IRVING) . . . 109
MR. GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA . . . . . -113

Miss MARIE LITTON ; . . . . . .117

M. JACQUES OFFENBACH . 127

MR. HERMANN VEZIN . . . . . . -135

MR. CHARLES SANTLEY 155

HERR MEYER LUTZ 159

MR. JOHN L. TOOLE . . . . . -175

Miss JULIA MATTHEWS 195

REHEARSAL OF "THESPIS" 203

MR. DION BOUCICAULT 217

xv



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE

Miss KATE VAUGHAN , 231

MR. F. C. BURNAND 251

MESSRS. CHARLES MATHEWS, JOHN L. TOOLE, AND

SAMUEL PHELPS . . 257

Miss ROSE LECLERQ . . . ... . . 265

MR. SAMUEL PHELPS . ..,.'. . . 269
MR. ARTHUR SULLIVAN (SiR ARTHUR SULLIVAN) . .277

MR. ARTHUR CECIL ... . . . . . 283

CARTOON MR. JOHN HOLLINGSHEAD AND COLONEL

BATEMAN . . . ..... . . 289

MR. CHARLES MATHEWS . . . . . - . . 307

" WE ARE A MERRY FAMILY " MISSES ELLEN FARREN

AND KATE VAUGHAN, MESSRS. EDWARD TERRY

AND E. W. ROYCE . . ... . . 333

Miss CONSTANCE GILCHRIST (COUNTESS OF ORKNEY) . 337

MR. E. W. ROYCE . 355

CARTOON MR. JOHN HOLLINGSHEAD . . .361

MADAME SARAH BERNHARDT ...... 369

MR. EDWARD TERRY . . . . . . . 393

MR. FORBES ROBERTSON . 403

MR. W. J. FLORENCE . 419

MR. DAVID JAMES 431

MR. H. E. DIXEY 437

MR. GEORGE EDWARDES 441

MR. FRED LESLIE 445

Miss ELLEN FARREN 451



xvi



THE THEATRE

These natural " interrogatories " have to be an-
swered by the chronicler as fully as if they were
legally "administered," but the answers are not
excessively difficult. The book, or booklet, may be
the first of a series, if it meets with a fair measure
of encouragement. The subject was naturally
chosen by the writer with the usual parental par-
tiality, in spite of the unruly character of the off-
spring.

Human nature has not yet gone out of fashion.

The subject, as far as the writer is concerned, has
one great drawback. He knows it only too thor-
oughly. There is little or no scope for fancy or
imagination. A study of twenty or thirty years has
accumulated a store of facts, while it has destroyed
far too many illusions, and vestiges of romance.

These Chronicles are essentially Chronicles of
Small- Beer. " The earth hath bubbles as the water
hath, and these are of them." The spirit of the
booklet is parochial. This should not be against it,
if it is honestly parochial. In a very early number
of the Cornhill Magazine, I wrote for William
Makepeace Thackeray (the editor) a short article
called "The Parochial Mind." In this I pointed
out, to the best of my ability, that the man who
cultivates his little patch of experience, as a French
peasant cultivates his few square yards of produc-
tive soil, who resolutely turns his back upon all
electro-plated universality, who has the courage to
be minute even to the verge of common-place, and
has no ambition to shine in encyclopaedic glory, may

3



GAIETY CHRONICLES

probably leave something behind him that the great
historians of the century may welcome with grati-
tude. The parochial book has its useful place in
the world of print and paper, though it is not given
to every one to write a Natural History of Sel-
borne.

In the early sixties a period spoken of with
contempt by many chroniclers of the stage, simply
because a sleepy stage management had encouraged
the creation of that theatrical abortion, the "Adelphi
Guest," the central theatres, not very numerous,
were far from being remarkable as models of com-
fort and cleanliness. The Strand Theatre was de-
servedly popular by reason of its entertainments
(chiefly burlesque), but was a stuffy little house, in
which the audience and the actors could almost
shake hands across the footlights ; the Olympic,
always having the air of a thoroughly " minor
theatre," had just recovered from the lamented death
of that meteoric genius, Robson, and was rejoicing
in the best adaptation from the French ever placed
upon the English stage the Ticket-of- Leave Man,
by Tom Taylor. Lyon's Inn, in Newcastle Street,
Strand, still existed, and the Globe and the Opera -
Comique were neither built nor thought of; there was
no Vaudeville, to be called by the cabmen the "War-
Devil," and to divide the old Vestris Lyceum from
the re-constructed Adelphi ; Terry's little playhouse
was in the womb of time, its master being at the
Surrey Theatre ; Her Majesty's Theatre (with its
dangerous little play-house, the " Bijou," packed

4



THE THEATRE

somewhere in its bowels), to be burned to the
ground, then rebuilt as a stately but unprofitable
opera-house, and afterwards cruelly murdered, di-
vided musical and spectacular business with Covent
Garden and Drury Lane ; the Princess's had ac-
quired a classical reputation under the able and
scholarly management of Charles Kean, who earned
the systematic abuse of Punch and Douglas Jerrold ;
the Hay market, with the most juicy low comedian,
but unskilful manager, John Baldwin Buckstone,
the bosom friend of Charles Dickens, was old-
fashioned, but a thorough play-house, with a most
uncomfortable dress-circle, from which you could
only see the stage with one eye, according to the
side on which you were placed, but with a snug en-
closed pit, every seat being in the open, and all
sighting the stage at a proper elevation, so that the
occupants were justified in saying, as I did,

"We have been there, and still would go;
'Tis quite a little Heaven below ! "

The small gallery in King William Street, Strand,
afterwards to become a popular theatre under
various managements, notably under Mr. J. L.
Toole's, was only used for " one-man shows," and
Ethiopian Serenaders. There was no Criterion, no
Prince of Wales's, except the famous little barn in
Tottenham Street, Tottenham Court Road, im-
mortalized by the Bancroft management ; there
was no Shaftesbury, no Lyric, no Daly's, and no
" Queen's." Toole's and the Queen's have died an

5



GAIETY CHRONICLES

honourable death, and are both entitled to favour-
able epitaphs. There was no Comedy Theatre
(now partially reconstructed), then the cheapest built
theatre in London ; there was no Garrick, built by
a successful dramatic author for an admirable cha-
racter actor, almost against the wishes of the noble
ground landlord ; there was no Avenue on the
river-bank, erected in the heart of American Lon-
don, under the fond impression that it would be
immediately bought up for the necessary extension
by the South Eastern Railway ; there was no re-
constructed Royalty in the petty France of Soho,
transformed from a toy theatre into a compact
playhouse ; there was no Novelty in Great Queen
Street, disputing the right of way with brokers'
shops, the cabs of Freemasons, and the legal colony
of Lincoln's Inn. There was no reconstructed St.
James', where Braham's "folly" was practically
rebuilt at the cost of a new theatre. There was no
Duke of York's and no Savoy, the golden nursery
of Gilbert and Sullivan, and a new form of comic
opera.

The old theatres of the sixties were nearly all
badly built, badly lighted, badly seated, with in-
convenient entrances, narrow winding passages, and
the most defective sanitary arrangements. They
smelt of escaped gas, orange peel, tom-cats, and
mephitic vapours. Drury Lane, which should have
set an example, being large and claiming a patent,
was one of the greatest offenders. The playbills
were badly printed with damp ink which came off

6






THE THEATRE

on your hands, until a well-known perfumer, named
Rimmel, appeared with scented programmes, which,
if anything, were a little too aromatic. The " re-
freshments" consisted chiefly of an undefined ardent
spirit probably the original fire-water which ex-
terminated the red man and the fee-(fi-fo-fum)
system was the rule everywhere.

The Strand thoroughfare is the chief street of the
world. Like most ancient ways, it is narrow and
snake-like. Whitechapel and the Mile End Road
may rival the barbaric proportions of the Newskoi
Perspective of St. Petersburg, or the Grand Place
of Prague ; but the Strand, if only an " alley," as
the Thames is only a " ditch," has been moulded
by Time and History. It is controlled by several
authorities and half a dozen vestries. Its roadway
and pathways are undermined by many commercial
trespassers, fortified by Acts of Parliament. Gas
companies, telephone companies, water companies,
electric lighting companies, and others have the
power to take up its wood blocks whenever they
feel so disposed, and to make clay pies in the centre
of its pavements. It is as badly swept as a suburban
lodging-house. It is only really clean for an hour
when a royal visitor makes a semi- state progress
from Buckingham Palace to the Guildhall, to accept
the freedom of the City. Disraeli admired and
praised it, and his " English gondola " the hansom
cab let loose empty in uncontrolled hundreds,
usurps the right of way, and with the happy-go-
lucky hooded cart the demon of the streets the

7



GAIETY CHRONICLES

pampered promoter of bad language defies and
dislocates the legitimate traffic.

The centre of this interesting and overgorged
alley is where the greasy curve of Bow Street,
re-named in this link Wellington Street North,
pours its railway and market-carts downhill into the
Strand, to struggle across the road into Wellington
Street South, and over Waterloo Bridge (now free
from the halfpenny tax on suicides), on the way to
South London. For more than a century London
has wanted a good cross thoroughfare from north
to south, and for nearly half a century it has been
promised such a thoroughfare. One day it may
get it.

The mouth of Wellington Street North (or
"Mud-Salad Market" Hill, as it might be re-
named) has two blocks of buildings one at the
west corner, the centre of which is the Lyceum
Theatre, and the other at the east corner, the
centre of which is the Gaiety Theatre. Thalia (if
I may be allowed such classical allusions) is repre-
sented on one side, and Melpomene on the other.
The hilly gorge between, too well known to drivers
and horses, is the Dardanelles of the drama.

The eastern corner, which has long held, at the
back, the historic premises of the Morning Post,
presented a Strand frontage that was marked out
by destiny for a metropolitan place of amusement.
The frontage was part of an island of some little
interest in the history of London the history of
the day before yesterday, and not the records of



THE THEATRE

remote antiquity. When the Hay market was really
a market for hay in the daytime, and had not
earned its night character of the Gay-market,
Catherine Street (or, as it used to be spelt,
Katherine Street), the eastern boundary of the
property, was a festive thoroughfare, where the
chimes were heard long after midnight, from Drury
Lane Theatre and the (now defunct) Albion Tavern
at one end, to the Strand thoroughfare at the other.
Old taverns and alamode beef shops abounded,
and a private amateur theatre, where many celebri-
ties made their first appearance, which afterwards
became a flash night-house called " Jessop's," then
a printing office, then one of the numerous homes
of the Savage Club before it turned its Bohemian
coat and cultivated a liking for clean linen and the
aristocracy, stood near the middle of the street,
where it stands now as the office of the Echo
newspaper. Many of these taverns had a literary
flavour. Mark Lemon kept one ; a distinguished
author lived and wrote so long in another without
going out of the place, that when, at last, he made
up his mind to face the street, his hat had been
mislaid and lost, and in anger he transferred his
custom to another tavern. In those days the half-
past twelve o'clock closing Act of 1872 had not
been invented ; people went to bed when they
liked, not when they were told to do so by their
own servants, the police, and the scrofulous "bogus"
club had not been called into existence. The Albion
Tavern now a potato warehouse and a tenement



GAIETY CHRONICLES

lodging-house attracted men like Charles Dickens,
who loved to dine and sup near his work and in
the very heart of his beloved London.

The west side of Catherine Street saw the birth
of the Era newspaper, a professional journal de-
voted to the interests of the stage, and always very
ably conducted ; and the Ilhistrated Times, 'one of
the early picture papers, originated by the late
Henry Vizetelly, a clever member of a large and
clever family, who, in. Echoes from the Chibs, brought
out the late Edmund Yates as a " society journalist."
Round in Exeter Street, on the north side of the
block, stood an old tavern called the Fountain, that
had seen better days, and was a poor relation of
the London Coffee House on Ludgate Hill, the
Crown and Anchor in the Strand, the Sabloniere in
Leicester Square, the Blue Posts in Cork Street,
and Clunn's in Covent Garden. They all had a
family likeness. There was plenty of good old
polished mahogany and sound old Sheffield plate
(and sometimes silver, as at " Simpson's ") inside,
and the rich brown entrance doors generally
mahogany had dwarf green curtains and bright
brass wire railings.

At the north-east corner of the block, on the rise
of the Wellington Street Hill, was the most in-
teresting building of all the first public workshop
of Charles Dickens. Here Household Words was
started the master and his faithful foreman, W. H.
Wills, working together on the first floor, the upper
rooms being used for little dinner parties and

10





" HOUSEHOLD WORDS " OFFICE, CHARLES DICKENS'
FIRST WORKSHOP



THE THEATRE

suppers after the theatres. The building still exists,
unchanged externally ; but about ten years ago it
was absorbed by the Gaiety Theatre, providing
space that had long been much needed. The
changes in the " local habitations " of literature,
properly so called, in the neighbourhood are curious.
When Charles Dickens had his well-known quarrel
with his partners, Messrs. Bradbury and Evans
(Sir William Agnew was not then one of the firm),
he dropped Household Words and re-started it
under the name of All the Year Round, taking
premises a little higher up Wellington Street, at
the corner of York Street, one of the twenty " York
Streets" in London. These premises now are
occupied by a theatrical wig and mask maker, and
a music-hall and variety agent. The agent has
Charles Dickens' working-rooms upstairs, and the
wig-maker trades in the shop and basement. Lower
down Wellington Street, nearer the Strand, the
offices of the Athen&iim, the great literary organ
founded by the Dilkes father, son, and grandson
have been surrendered to a music-hall agent, and
the old Household Words house, after being used
for several years by Sir William Howard Russell,
as the editor of the Army and Navy Gazette, has
(as I have just said) been converted into dressing-
rooms and offices for the Gaiety Theatre.



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