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The Little Cherub

A musical play in 3 acts by Owen Hall. Music by Ivan Caryll and Frank E. Tours: Lyrics by Adrian Ross

Prince of Wales, London - 13th January, 1906. Closed 28 April, 1906 (114 perfs)

Revised as The Girl On the Stage (additional songs by Frank E. Tours and Jerome Kern) - Opened 5 May, 1906 - Closed 2 June, 1906 (29 perfs)


We are seated in a stall at the Prince of Wales' Theatre, or on a chair in the townhouse of the Earl of Sanctobury: it doesn't matter which. And now let us peep into a room and discover a big crowd of ladies and gentlemen all wildly endeavouring to do something. In point of fact they are trying to "act." Of course their efforts are like nothing on the stage, if not the earth, for they are only a lot of utterly incompetent society amateurs. The company is headed by the Earl's four pretty daughters, whose intention it is to reproduce a successful London play called "The Little Cherub" for the benefit of some charity.

And so we find them wandering abstractedly through the mazes of a rehearsal under the guidance of their dear friend Algy Southdown, who knows as much about stage management as he did when he was just born. Their muddle is hopeless. Clearly the charity will never reap this particular benefit unless professional help rushes to the rescue. Wherefore the Earl's youngest and cheekiest daughter wires off to Miss Molly Montrose, the star of the real "Cherub" company, which is on tour, praying that she will come and show them all how to do it. And Molly, the actress, replies by visiting the Earl's house and giving the distinguished amateurs the benefit of her advice.

Now the Earl has, or is supposed to have, the most rigid theories of propriety - and this brings us to the thickening of the plot. As I have stated, "The Little Cherub" has, professionally, been a highly successful play, so much so that his lordship, in the course of his supervision of public morals, has thought it necessary to write to the papers and comment upon the play's debasing influence. And all the time his daughters rehearse the awful play under his very nose. His shock when he makes this discovery is bad enough, but nothing to his condition when he meets a celebrated actress in his own drawingroom. Words completely fail him. For one long minute the sanctimonious Earl is indignant, and then-well, what Molly doesn't know about men and their ways isn't worth much. In less than another minute she induces the Earl to believe that the alleged impropriety of her performance is a matter calling for further consideration, and extracts a promise from him to run down to Dunbridge Baths, where the play is being performed, that very evening.

And so it comes to pass that a slightly disguised Earl departs in the best of spirits to have a real good time, and with the knowledge that no one is likely to find him out. Where ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise. How was he to know that his four pretty daughters also make up their minds to witness that night's performance of "The Little Cherub and follow him by the next train? We, too, have followed them and go right into the saloon of the Dunbridge Baths Hotel, the manager of which has been ordered to provide supper tables for two separate parties. We know these parties; one consists of the Earl and Miss Molly Montrose and some of her companions, and the other is Algy Southdown accompanied by Lady Isabel, Lady Dorothy, Lady Agnes and Lady Rosa, the Earl's dutiful daughters.

The hotel is very full in consequence of a ball which is in progress, and as there are no private rooms vacant the manager uses a screen to separate the two tables with exhilarating results. What with the cracking of bon-bons, the popping of champagne corks and the laughter of the actresses, there is quite a "noise" on the Earl's side of the screen. The comparatively sedate ladies on the other side become curious, and Dorothy, the youngest, tip-toes on the table and peeps over the screen. She recognises her papa, and now it is their turn to be shocked. "He never let us know one word of it says Dorothy. "It's a sensation!" says Isabel. "A revelation!" says Rosa. "There would be fun if people heard of it says Agnes. After which Algy discreetly takes the girls out of the room.

Matters are not made smoother either by the arrival at the hotel of the Rajah of Talcutta, a sort of universal lover, at present running after Molly, or by a gallant river-plunge by Algy, the amateur stage manager, who has a mania for rescuing persons whether they desire it or not! On this occasion Algy mistakes a professional swimmer (swimming for a wager) for a drowning man, and having dragged him from the water, is thanked by the Mayor, who in turn mistakes Algy for the Earl.

This incident partly helps to smooth over his lordship's difficulties after the family have returned home, but it is Miss Molly Montrose who really clears the air. As you know, she has more than made him regret his scathing criticism of her play, and by way of compensation he has fallen in love with her. So she determines to complete the cure by accepting his offer of marriage.

(Taken from Plays Pictorial)

Musical Numbers

  1. Opening Chorus - "We're rehearsing, we're rehearsing, working very, very hard! ..."
  2. Classical Chorus - Agnes, Rosa, Dorothy, Capt. Hereward, & Sir George - "We are little ladies of mythology..."
  3. Quartet - Ladies Isobel, Rosa, Agnes & Dorothy, with Chorus - "Altho' we're an earl's four frivolous girls..."
  4. Song - Shingle - "Altho' I serve a lord, a regular tip-topper, yet I know he must be bored by having to be proper! ..."
  5. Octet & Solo - Molly - "Oh, it's jolly when the gods go wrong, we're worse than mortal man can! ..."
  6. Song - Duke & Chorus - "I love to roam away from home, a restless rover I've always been..."
  7. Finale Act I - Quartet & Chorus - "Off to Dunbridge 'on your own', all to see a play there..."
  8. Opening Chorus - "In the town of Dunbridge Baths, famed for its wonderful well..."
  9. Duet - Mrs. Briggs & Duke, with Chorus - "Your Autocratic Highness, if that's the term in use..."
  10. Duet - Letty & Ethelbert - "If I was the Honorable Miss Fitz-Jones ... And I was her friend Lord Arty..."
  11. Song - Lady Isobel - "Girls have a rotten time! There's not the slightest doubt of it! ..."
  12. Song - Duke - "Oh! the girl that you take out to luncheon may be a saint or a dear little sinner..."
  13. Quartet - Ladies Isobel, Rosa, Dorothy & Agnes - "Oh! what an unexpected sight..."
  14. Song - Molly & Chorus - "Auntie sent me marketing on a morning in the spring; birds were twittering, tra la la!..."
  15. Song - Alderman & Chorus - "Although I started bus'ness in a small provision line, Canadian Cheddar cheese..."
  16. Duet - Molly & Duke - "Won't you take a pearl to make an ear-ring, or perhaps to deck your pretty neck? ..."
  17. Finale Act II - "Seize on the wretch breaking the peace! Somebody fetch in the police! ..."
  18. Opening Chorus - "It's our latest universal grand rehearsal all in dress..."
  19. Song - Shingle & Chorus - "I never was crusty or surly in all of my service before..."
  20. Song - Lady Dorothy - "Young Cupid had dropp'd his arrows, and bought a pretty little gun..."
  21. Song - Molly - "Life is a play, done in a day, comic for laughter, tragic for tears..."
  22. Song - Molly - "When Molly marries Polly, she'll leave off song and dance..."
  23. Finale Act III - "His wife will be My Lady!..."


  24. Extra Song - Duke & Chorus - "A host of friends has Charlie Brown with whom his time he spends..."

Scenes and Settings