Showing posts with label Christy's minstrels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christy's minstrels. Show all posts

Monday, October 4, 2010


Everything I know about minstrels in Australia, I learned from Richard Waterhouse's book, From Minstrel Show to Vaudeville. If you are interested in the history of minstrels, I recommend buying it, it's a great read.

Minstrel shows were very popular in Australia in the mid to late 19th century. The tradition of end man and bones was incorporated into variety halls in Australia, and for many years, the Tivoli theatre chain had a minstrel style first part in every programme.

Why I am talking about minstrels? Well, whilst looking in my files last night, I discovered two music sheets.

The first is from Christy's minstrels and is probably an English sheet.

The song is , Smile your sweetest smile again, sung by Ernest Bruce of the original Christy's Minstrels, St James's Hall.

The second appears to be from Australia.

This is The Cuckoos Notes, sung by Mr Rawlinson of the original Christy's Minstrels. It was printed in England but sold at Palings in Sydney, according to an embossed stamp on the left hand side. Of interest is the fact that it has a signature, J Rawlinson, on the bottom left hand side.

Now according to Professor Waterhouse, a Christy's minstrel troupe toured Australia in the late 1860s. I wonder if this music sheet dates from then?

One famous graduate from an American minstrel group which toured later than Christy's was Irving Sayles. An article about Irving is here

Minstrelsy is a fascinating area of Australian theatre history. If you have an interest in it, Professor Waterhouse's book is the best place to start.