The first play ever to notch up 500 consecutive nights in London's West End eventually ran for 1382 performances at the Vaudeville Theatre.
This week, I came upon this interesting piece of merchandising marking the 1000th night on 19 February 1878 ...
Now, I don't know the play intimately, but the plot has the conventional 'stern' fathers (one aristocratic, one in the butter trade) of two feckless young men who each falls in love with the girl (one an heiress, one her poor cousin) intended by position and money for the other. A bit of French farcical business with auntie's bonnet ... and that's really it. Of course, it was what went into that frame which made the play the record-breaking hit that it became.
The best roles were, naturally, were those taken by the theatre's managers, David James (as the untutored nouveau riche), and Tom Thorne as the aristocratic sprig in love with the poor cousin. Both of course were still there on night 1000 and well beyond ..
Well, on the bottom of the card someone has pencil scribbled ... why, they're initials. Almost illegible but ... yes CR=Cicely Richard, SL=Sophie Larkin ... and, ahha, CGW. Charles Warner.
And ?N W. Ah-ha! Miss Nellie Walters (a member of the Vaudeville Company) persisted on the bills during the run. I think we have an understudy situation. Which would explain why her face is hidden.
Given the amount of shekels James and Thorne made from the play you would think they could have afforded an up-to-date photo for this occasion: Garthorne, Bessie Hollingshead. Or maybe this wasn't Official Merchandise? Just a souvenir stuck together by an entrepreneur ...