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British Musical Theatre   Alexander M. Thompson

THOMPSON, Alexander M[attock] (b Karlsruhe, 9 May 1861; d London, 25 March 1948). British librettist of the early 20th century.

Socialist writer and journalist and founder of the left-wing journal Clarion, Thompson also worked as a theatre critic under the pseudonym 'Dangle'. He came to the theatre slowly, making his first notable stage appearances with the texts for pantomimes for his crony Robert Courtneidge, manager of the Prince's Theatre in Manchester. Courtneidge was, thereafter, the supplier of virtually all of Thompson's theatrical work, to which his own name was also sometimes appended as co-writer.

Thompson began his connection with English musical comedy when he reorganized the text of Walter Ellis's The Blue Moon before Courtneidge brought it to town after its author's death, and he then supplied the hotchpotch of a libretto (allegedly, but not evidently, based on Shakespeare's As You Like It) for Courtneidge's successful musical piece The Dairymaids. In real contrast to this piece of jobbery, he next fulfilled the task of expertly slimming and resituating Henry Fielding's Tom Jones as the libretto for the enduring comic opera of the same name, but he had his biggest success in fleshing out Mark Ambient's ideas for a fantastical musical as The Arcadians.

His first all-original text, the comic and romantic Japanoiseries of The Mousmé, was a costly failure for his producer friend, but Thompson and Courtneidge had another success together with the London version of Leo Fall's Der Liebe Augustin, adapted and produced as Princess Caprice. Having enjoyed Courtneidge's high days with him, Thompson continued to supply scripts for his later and less-fortunate ventures. A revusical piece of Ancient Roman foolery called Oh, Caesar! failed to make it to town, whilst the cloak-and-swashbuckle The Rebel Maid with its durable paean to 'The Fishermen of England' survived largely with choral societies after 114 London performances.

1897 Toto and Tata (Toto) English version w J J Wood, E Boyd Jones (Grand Theatre, Leeds)

1903 Chilperic new English version w Richard Mansell (Coronet Theatre)

1905 The Blue Moon revised version Lyric Theatre 28 August

1906 The Dairymaids (Paul Rubens, Frank E Tours/Rubens, Arthur Wimperis/w Robert Courtneidge) Apollo Theatre 14 April

1907 Tom Jones (Edward German/Charles H Taylor/w Courtneidge) Apollo Theatre 17 April

1909 The Arcadians (Howard Talbot, Lionel Monckton/Wimperis/w Ambient) Shaftesbury Theatre 28 April

1911 The Mousmé (Talbot, Monckton/Wimperis, Percy Greenbank/w Courtneidge) Shaftesbury Theatre 9 September

1912 Princess Caprice (Der liebeAugustin) English version (Shaftesbury Theatre)

1916 Oh, Caesar! (Nat D Ayer, Arthur Wood/Adrian Ross/w Max Pemberton) Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh 23 December

1921 The Rebel Maid (Montague Phillips/Gerald Dalton/w Bertrand Davis) Empire Theatre 12 March

Autobiography: Here I Lie (Routledge, London, 1937)



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