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'The Whip'

Details of the original production at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 1909, along with images from this, and later productions at the Gaiety Theatre in Hastings and the Metropolitan Theatre in London.

A postcard for George Dance's production of 'The Whip' whilst showing at the Gaiety Theatre, Hasting

Above - A postcard for George Dance's production of 'The Whip' whilst showing at the Gaiety Theatre, Hastings

A postcard for George Dance's production of 'The Whip' whilst showing at the Gaiety Theatre, HastingIn 1909, the Lane, was again to make history. It had an Italian Opera Season in the spring, but the autumn drama was the record-breaking play "The Whip." The work of the famous combination, Cecil Raleigh and Henry Hamilton. (The play in novel form can be found here.)

Right - A postcard for George Dance's production of 'The Whip' whilst showing at the Gaiety Theatre, Hasting.

"The Whip" was the beau ideal of all that a Drury Lane melodrama should be. It had ancestral halls with Hunt breakfasts, bachelor chambers where dirty work was hatched, jockeys whose sisters had been "betrayed" by the villain, a hero who lost his memory and did not remember to whom he was engaged, and a heroine who wanted to ride "The Whip" (which was a racehorse) in defiance of Jockey Club rules. Also there was a handsome, ruthless adventuress, a drunken curate who was her dupe, an Army Captain who stopped at nothing to gain his ends, a genial trainer, and his bluff and breezy "lady friend..."

A Scene from the original production of 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1909 - From 'The Stage Yearbook' of 1910.

Above - A Scene from the original production of 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1909 - From 'The Stage Yearbook' of 1910. Cast identified in the caption are: 'Miss Nancy Price, Mr. Vincent Clive, Mr. Alfred Bucklaw, Mr. Basil Gill, Miss Jessie Bateman, Miss Fanny Brough, Mr. Cyril Keightley, and Miss May Warley.'

A Scene from the original production of 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1909. From 'The Whip' novelized from the play by Richard Parker in 1913.

Above - A Scene from the original production of 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1909. From 'The Whip' novelized from the play by Richard Parker in 1913.

...The horse box containing the favourite "slipped" on the railway outside the tunnel just as an express was due, the horse being rescued in the nick of time by the good angels who arrived by motor car. Horse box and train were smashed to splinters amid terrific din, steam and conflagration...

A Scene from the original production of 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1909. From 'The Whip' novelized from the play by Richard Parker in 1913.

Above - A Scene from the original production of 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1909. From 'The Whip' novelized from the play by Richard Parker in 1913.

...And finally there was a horse race on the stage with real horses and jockeys thundering along to the winning post...

Postcard for 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane - 1909

Above - A Postcard for 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 1909. The 'Travellator on which the horses ran on stage to simulate the race can be seen under their feet.

A postcard for George Dance's production of 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane....This was Drury Lane fare as it should be; melodrama in excelsis. In the splendid cast were Cyril Keightley as the villainous Captain Sartoris; Nancy Price as the wicked, scheming "Mrs. D'Acquilar," Basil Gill as the drunken curate, Madge Fabian as the betrayed girl, Fanny Brough as the outspoken lady friend of the trainer; whilst the trainer himself, "Tom Lambert," was played by George Barratt, who gave one of the best performances ever seen at Drury Lane in drama.

Right - A postcard for George Dance's production of 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

A Scene from the original production of 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1909. From a programme for a production of the same show at the Metropolitan Theatre in 1962 - Kindly Donated by Edward Beckerleg. Things had seldom gone smoothly at an Augustus Harris first night, either of pantomime or drama, and that was another legacy which Collins inherited. On the first night of "The Whip" the great race scene brought the house to its feet cheering, but lo and behold something went wrong. "The Whip" was down the field; it failed to pass the post first! For no apparent reason, the judge's box shot into the air, and the judge (a super) was left standing like a jack-in-the-box whose position had been reversed, a truly astonished and terrified man. The curtain fell quickly, and the short last scene was played at top speed.

Left - A Scene from the original production of 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1909. From a programme for a production of the same show at the Metropolitan Theatre in 1962 - Kindly Donated by Edward Beckerleg.

A Programme Cover for a production of 'The Whip' at the Metropolitan Theatre in 1962 - Kindly Donated by Edward Beckerleg. Then Arthur Collins came forward, complete master of the situation. "Ladies and gentlemen," he said to a cheering house, " perhaps some of you may have noticed that to-night 'The Whip' did not win. Owing to a misunderstanding with the judge's box, however, I may tell you that it was no race.

Right - A Programme Cover for a production of 'The Whip' at the Metropolitan Theatre in 1962 - Kindly Donated by Edward Beckerleg.

It will be run again to-morrow night, and judging by your applause, for many nights to come; and on those occasions I can promise you that 'The Whip' will be the winner." A masterpiece of quick thinking and cool demeanour typical of Collins. He was right about the result, for "The Whip" was the greatest winner the Lane had known. It ran until the panto, it was revived after it, running for 388 performances in all. It toured all over the country and made fortunes for many...

The back of 'The Whip' Postcard shown above right

Above - The back of 'The Whip' Postcard shown above right

A Scene from the original production of 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1909. From 'The Whip' novelized from the play by Richard Parker in 1913.

Above - A Scene from the original production of 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1909. From 'The Whip' novelized from the play by Richard Parker in 1913.

A Scene from the original production of 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1909. From 'The Whip' novelized from the play by Richard Parker in 1913.

Above - A Scene from the original production of 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1909. From 'The Whip' novelized from the play by Richard Parker in 1913.

A Scene from the original production of 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1909. From a programme for a production of the same show at the Metropolitan Theatre in 1962 - Kindly Donated by Edward Beckerleg.

Above - A Scene from the original production of 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1909. From a programme for a production of the same show at the Metropolitan Theatre in 1962 - Kindly Donated by Edward Beckerleg.

A postcard for George Dance's production of 'The Whip' whilst showing at the Gaiety Theatre, Hasting..."Aladdin" arrived at Christmas, with Marie George, Ida Rene, Truly Shattuck (who was a large handsome American), George Graves, Wilkie Bard and George Ali. Graves made his first entrance in an aeroplane surrounded by live chickens, and when, for no reason whatever, all the huge crowd, including himself, found themselves at the North Pole, he described that remote spot as " The Margate of the North."

Right - A postcard for George Dance's production of 'The Whip' whilst showing at the Gaiety Theatre, Hasting.

The following year, 1910, " The Whip" was revived. The theatre, however, was closed for three nights from May 6th owing to the death of King Edward VII The pantomime was " Jack and the Beanstalk."

A Scene from the original production of 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1909. From 'The Whip' novelized from the play by Richard Parker in 1913.

Above - A Scene from the original production of 'The Whip' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1909. From 'The Whip' novelized from the play by Richard Parker in 1913.

The text on this page is edited from 'Theatre Royal Drury Lane' The biography of the greatest theatre in the world' by W. Macqueen Pope. - 1945. (The play in novel form can be found here.)

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