Over the last couple of weeks I have been illustrating the sport of Internet Rambling - fecklessly wandering from one website to another driven only by curiosity and a desire to waste time in the most entertaining way possible. The last installment saw me finish up on the stage of Ford's Theatre, Washington back in April 1865. The rules of Internet Rambling state that you can go off at a tangent at any time : indeed tangential thinking is encouraged. So I stick with the stage (which is useful as it is Theme Thursday and this week the theme is "Stage") and I jump to the stage of the Rusholme Pavillion in Manchester, England, in June 1931.
"The Stage" is the weekly trade newspaper of the British entertainment and performing arts industry. Established in 1880, the Stage has chronicled the changing tastes and mores of the entertainment industry for more than 120 years, and its' archives - of over 6,500 issues and 170,000+ pages - are available on-line and provide a treasure trove of material. The one problem is - like all good shows - you have to pay to get in. I normally shun pay sites - there is enough free material out there to keep the most enthusiastic Internet Rambler occupied - but I made an exception with The Stage as I was searching for material on my Uncle Harry.
Uncle Harry was the black sheep of our family. He got drunk, died his hair, wore built-up shoes and played the piano at Working Men's Clubs. In his younger days he had run away from a respectable working-class home in Bradford and joined a Pierrot troupe which performed in second-rate English theatres and seaside holiday resorts. I did have a copy of a playbill featuring the troupe (the Silhouettes) but I was anxious to find out whether their performances had ever been mentioned in The Stage. So I paid the £5 fee which let me into the archives and went in search of the legacy of Uncle Harry.
I eventually struck gold with the issue of the 4th June 1931. There, on page 13, was a short review of a performance by the Silhouettes at the Rusholme Pavilion. Finding the sentence : "and Harry Moore adds to the musical side as an efficient accompanist, but with a sweet tenor voice", was like locating the Holy Grail and put a skip in my step as I rambled through The Stage archives. You could spend a week doing nothing more than browsing through reviews of everything from performing dogs to the early concerts of the Beatles. But the rules of Rambling require that you can't stay in one place for too long. So, leaving The Stage behind, I set out in search of new cyber backwaters, ready to dip my toes in the brackish waters of on-line trivia.