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Olive May (née Olive Mary Meatyard), Countess of Drogheda

by Bassano Ltd
whole-plate glass negative, 6 July 1910
Given by John Morton Morris, 2004
NPG x127684

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John Culme

01 September 2017, 11:13

This and associated images of Olive May show her as she appeared in the character of Lady Betty (otherwise Lady Elizabeth Thanet, a part created by Denise Orme) for her 'Japanese' song, which was introduced into the musical play, Our Miss Gibbs (Gaiety Theatre, London, on 23 January 1909) when the production was refurbished and new songs and business added on Saturday, 11 June 1910. According to The Era (London, Saturday, 18 June 1910, p. 14b), Miss May's new feature was a 'song on a swing with flowers,' while The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (London, Saturday, 13 August 1910, p. 1002) went further by publishing several photographs from the Bassano sitting. The Tatler (London, Wednesday, 22 June 1910, p. 12c), meanwhile, explained the Japanese element: '. . . Our Miss Gibbs . . . has entered upon her second childhood. There is practically an entirely new second act, and the Franco-British Exhibition has now given way to the Japanese-British variety of the same bush. The result is that we have now a troupe of lovely ladies in kimonos and multitudes and multitudes of Japanese lanterns . . . [Among the fresh items] Miss Olive May has also a new number all to herself, and [Edmund] ''Teddy'' Payne has a new ju-jitsu interlude which is among the funniest things that he has ever done . . .'
Our Miss Gibbs ended its long run of 638 performances on 3 December 1910.

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