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Henry Pottinger Stephens


STEPHENS, Henry Pottinger [Lygon] (aka Henry Beauchamp) (b Barrow-on-Soar, Leicestershire, 1851; d London, 11 February 1903).

A journalist (Daily Telegraph, Tit Bits etc) and the first editor of Topical Times, 'Pot' Stephens made his first appearance as a dramatic author under the aegis of the German Reed management at St George's Hall. He subsequently wrote lyrics for F C Burnand's Robbing Roy burlesque at the Gaiety and collaborated with Burnand on a couple of other burlesques before, in the wake of HMS Pinafore, joining up with composer Teddy Solomon on a comic opera. Their Billee Taylor appeared the same year as The Pirates of Penzance, won a major success and favourable comparison with Gilbert and Sullivan's piece, and caused its authors to be hailed briefly as the equals of Carte's prized writers. Carte had his associate, Michael Gunn, get the pair under contract, but they failed to come up
Arnold Breedon as Billee Taylor
with a second piece at the same level. Stephens returned to burlesque, and he had an important effect on London theatre when his The Vicar of Wide-awake-field and Little jack Sheppard set in motion George Edwardes's management at the Gaiety Theatre and the fashion for the 'new burlesque'.

However, other authors provided the later scripts for the Gaiety, and Stephens had just one more success, like the first in tandem with Solomon, when a piece they had written several years before was produced under the title The Red Hussar. Since Solomon was involved, law suits were also the order of the day, but the show had a good international career, giving Stephens his third major stage hit. He also authored novels, plays, a revue (A Dream of Whittaker's Almanack w Walter Slaughter, Florian Pascal, Georges Jacobi, Walter Hedgecock, Crystal Palace 5 June 1899), and pantomimes, in one of which he was appearing at Brighton at the time of his death.

1879 Back from India (Cotsford Dick) 1 act St George's Hall 25 June

1879 Robbing Roy, or Scotched and Kilt (pasticcio arr Meyer Lutz/F C Burnand) Gaiety Theatre 11 November

1879 Balloonacy, or A Flight of Fancy (pasticcio arr Edward Solomon/w Burnand) Royalty Theatre 1 December

1880 Cupid, or Two Strings to a Beau (pasticcio arr Barrow/w Charles Harris [uncredited]) Royalty Theatre 26 April

1880 The Corsican Brothers& Co Ltd (pasticcio w Burnand) Gaiety Theatre 25 October

1880 Billee Taylor (Solomon) Imperial Theatre 30 October

1881 Herne the Hunted (pasticcio/w William Yardley, Robert Reece) Gaiety Theatre 24 May

1881 Claude Duval (Solomon) Olympic Theatre 24 August

1882 Lord Bateman, or Picotee's Pledge (Solomon) Gaiety Theatre 29 April

1882 Through the Looking Glass (Solomon) 1 act Gaiety Theatre 17 July

1883 Virginia and Paul, or Changing the Rings (aka Virginia) (Solomon) Bijou Theater, New York, 8 January

1883 Galatea, or Pygmalion Re-Versed 1 act Gaiety Theatre 26 December

1885 Hobbies (George Gear/w Yardley) 1 act St George's Hall 6 April

1885 The Vicar of Wide-awake-field, or the Miss-Terryous Uncle (Florian Pascal/w Yardley) Gaiety Theatre 8 August

1885 Little Jack Sheppard (Meyer Lutz et al/w Yardley) Gaiety Theatre 26 December

1889 The Red Hussar (Solomon) Lyric Theatre 23 November

1896 The Black Squire, or Where There's a Will There's a Way (Pascal) Torquay 5 November


Adapted from The Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre by Kurt Gänzl.

Page created 8 October 2004