To-Night’s the Night is one of the most successful of the famed Gaiety shows. Called a Musical Play it opened on 18 April 1915 and ran for 460 performances. Based on the farce Les Dominos roses it was adapted by Fred Thompson with a score by Paul Rubens (music) and Percy Greenbank (lyrics) with two added songs by Jerome Kern that had already been heard in other American shows.
The show was unique that it was the only Gaiety show to open on Broadway before opening in London. It had rehearsed in London and opened in New York on Christmas Eve 1914 and ran for a healthy 112 performances with many of the London stars. While Britain was at war, The United States was not as yet, although the reason for the American opening was most likely more a producers’ decision.
The original farce had opened at the Criterion a couple decades earlier as Pink Dominoes. The plot is slight: Dudley Mitten (who is engaged to June) and his married friend Robin have received invitations to meet girls unknown at that night’s Mannequin’s Ball. Both make excuses to their loved ones and go. But the ‘unknowns’ are actually June and Robin’s wife, Beatrice, wanting to test their partners’ fidelity. There was a third involved – the maid who had written the invites who added one of her own, an older and heavily married Montague whose Nephew Henry also gets drawn in. In traditional farcical mix ups they end up by living happily ever after.
The London cast was George Grossmith (Dudley), Vernon Davidson (Robin), Leslie Henson (Henry), James Blakeley (Montague), Haidee de Rance (June), Julia James (Beatrice), Moya Mannering (Victoria the maid) and, in another plot detour, Madge Saunders (Daisy of the Piccadilly Theatre).
To-Night’s the Night was revived in 1924 at the Winter Garden and was for many years a popular touring show.
The song that has lived from the show is ‘They didn’t believe me’, one of the interpolations by Jerome (D) Kern (with a lyric by M E Rourke). However, there is a marvellous song called ‘Murders’ and that can be heard on YouTube sung by its originator Leslie Henson who became a star through this show.
A CD of this score taken from original cast 78s is available on Palaeophonics 103.
RSB The illustrations are all from our archives which also hold the original 78s.