He's behind you! Pantomimes and Pierrot

By other museum staff on 19 Dec 2012

With panto season firmly upon us, digital curator, Ellie Miles, goes back 200 years to meet some of pantomime’s earliest characters. Whilst working on the theatrical portraits for collections online, I kept finding the same characters appearing. In the left hand side of this print you can see Harlequin, wearing a mask. To Harlequin’s right, in blue, is the character ‘Pierrot’. Beatrice blogged about Pierrot costumes a couple of years ago. She wrote about Gertie Millar’s Pierrot costume, which Millar wore in 1909, but this print is from 1802, when Pierrot was just one the characters in the Harlequinade. I […]


By beatrice behlen on 23 Aug 2010

I can finally show you my all time favourite photograph of Gertie Millar. As you can see, she is sitting on what is probably a flower stand in a fancy, striped playsuit acessorised by striped socks, lovely white shoes and a Struwwelpeter wig. The actress is surrounded by soft toys (what kind of animal is hanging next to her head?) as the photo alludes to Toy Town, a musical number from the revue Bric-à-Brac, which premiered at the Palace Theatre (the one where Priscilla Queen of the Desert has replaced Les Misérables) on 18 September 1915, roughly a year after […]

'I'm such a silly when the moon comes out …'

By beatrice behlen on 9 Aug 2010

On 25 January 1909 The Times published a lengthy review of a ‘New Musical Play, in Two Acts’, that had premiered at the Gaiety Theatre two days earlier. Part of the reason why the article was so long was the comedy’s complicated, if not very original, plot. When the play moved to the Knickerbocker Theatre in New York the following year, one critic described it as the ‘familiar he-fell-in-love-with-one-who-was-beneath-him-in-station type’ (The New York Times, 30 August 1910). Similarly, Richard Traubner in his guide to operetta (Routledge 2003) thought it was a show of the ‘typical department-store-salesgirl-meets-disguised-rich-earl-spurns-and-finally-accepts-him variety’. Gertie Millar played […]

Pierrots and obssessive curatorial behaviour

By beatrice behlen on 12 Jul 2010

The whole thing started about two years ago with a photo album, which I showed to a researcher looking at gowns by Lucile. According to the notes on our database, one of the dresses had been designed for the actress Gertie Millar and, sure enough, she wore it in one of the photos. That was quite exciting in itself but what really gave me palpitations was a group of images showing Gertie dressed as Pierrot and as Jumping Jack. At first the obsession just manifested itself in an email to my long-suffering colleagues in Retail insisting that the photographs had […]