Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Buster Brown Musical Comedy

      In 1905, a play was performed on Broadway at the Majestic titled Buster Brown. It starred a 21-year-old adult dwarf actor named Master Gabriel (1882–?), born Gabriel Weigel. Photos of Master Gabriel in the role show him very convincing as a child. Gabriel appeared in another children's oriented play in 1908 Little Nemo and a return engagement as Buster Brown in 1913. It also featured famous animal actor George Ali as Tige.
      This musical comedy played and toured the country for many years afterwards. The characters in "Buster Brown" changed throughout it performances many times. Buster Brown for instance, was also played by two other dwarf actors, Master Jimmie Rosen, and Master Rice and Maser Helton who was an actual child actor played Buster in the winter of 1906 in Los Angeles.

Good Attraction at The Grand
"Jack" Bell as "Tige"in Buster
Brown at the Grand in 1908. 
      R. F. Outcault's cartoon comedy, 'Buster Brown," will be the attraction at the Grand theatre all next week, commencing Sunday evening, March 1rst, with matinees Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. 
      "Buster" is too well known to the public to need explanation as to the character of the play; suffice it to say that the best of the many escapades in which "Buster," and "Tige" and "Mary Jane" have figured in the comic supplements of newspapers, have been selected, and so joined together by cleverly written dialogue that a comedy of unusual merit has been evolved. Twenty new song hits, the Bobby Burns Brigade, the Hughes Musical Trio, and a singing , dancing chorus of 25 pretty girls, are only a few of the features of this production. Buster Brown has been seen by millions, and the high standard of the attraction having been kept up, it will be seen and highly appreciated by many more. Goodwins weekly, 1908

"Buster Brown"
Buster, Tige and Mary Jane, in "Buster Brown
at the Grand Theatre."
      The ever-welcome "Buster Brown" will be at the Grand theatre, with matinees Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, for one week commencing tonight. Since musical comedies first became popular none has ever been given great patronage than Mr. Outcault's play. The impression prevailed for some time that "Buster Brown" was an entertainment designed for the amusement of children only, but the error o f this was discovered and the grown-ups now comprise a very considerable part of "Buster's" patrons. They have found that it contains all that combines to make a musical comedies successful. It is full of bright, snappy dialogue that makes it always interesting. Its musical numbers are all new and of the character that will cause those inclined to humor whistle to keep busy for a while. The music is of the jingly sort, that is always a feature of productions of this sort, but with "Buster" it is even a greater feature than is si with any other current musical comedy. That this is a fact is largely due to the effective manner in which a large chorus is employed. Another quality, and a very essential oe to the success of all in which the chorus figures, is what is commonly termed ginger. Or this very desirable element "Buster Brown" has a superabundance, as is amply attested to by the audience in its insistence on repetitions of all numbers in which the chorus participates. Some of the numbers for which the audience have shown their appreciation are "Won't You Be My Baby Boy," "Old Bill Oliver," "I Won't Play Unless You Coax Me," "Rosebud," "I Couldn't Make a Hit With Suzie," and a new "Buster Brown" song. An added feature this season is the celebrated Hughes musical trio. Salt Lake Herald, 1908

Buster Brown Girls in Gay New York at The Bijou This Week.
More clippings from newspapers
"Grand-Commencing with today's matinee, "Buster Brown," the boy hero of the Sunday comic papers, aided and abetted by the faithful Tige, repeat the laughable stunts that have made him famous all round the world and have incidentally made a fortune for his creator. Buster is, of course, accompanied by parents, relatives and all the familiar friends-and then some. Maser Helton is the latest actor to appear as Buster and at the same time the youngest. Buster has hitherto been played by a man, but Helton is a "real boy." Tige is the same Tige that was Tige last year and ma is the same ma, but pa and the policeman and almost all the other members of the company have not been seen here in the parts before. There is a chorus of forty and all the girls are guaranteed to be pretty, young, clever dancers and good singers." Lost Angeles Herald, 1906

Times Dispatch: Richmond, Va., February 11, 1906
      Now, boys and girls, likewise parents, "Master Gabriel," the most talented toy comedian, will make things lively at the Academy on Wednesday, matinee and night. In the latest musical extravaganza, "Buster Brown," this little "bunch of flesh" make his audience quiver with laughter, while his side-splitting partner, "Tige" (his dog) is every ready to assist in mirth-provoking mischievousness. How delightfully pleasing it is to be able to witness a musical play, youthfully pure in every way, and at the same time entertaining to both old and young. There is not a company on the road today, with more beautiful and accomplished lady vocalists than the "Buster Brown Company" possesses. The male members are equally as strong vocally, as the female members, making in all a chorus of voices seldom heard in the most elaborate musical productions of to-day.
      Master Gabriel, though a midgit, is proportioned exactly and perfectly as a four or five-year-old child. He is twenty-one years old, but to see him on the stage, one would not think him other than the real thing-the real "Buster Brown" of comedy life, he and his wonderfully clever dog, "Tige," that did not want to be a "mad dog," nor what is more, "kiss grandma," even to pleas his master, because he did not like her looks, nor her temper. These two are enough for a whole evening's merriment, but when other good things are thrown in, such as a little of vaudeville, farce, musical comedy, newest songs, pretty girls, fine drills, etc... then one has more than the worth of his money.
"Rice plays the part
of Buster, and is admirably suited
to it. He is 22 years old, but is a
child in size, and he romps through
his work with the innocence of a
boy and the intelligence of a well-
seasoned actor." Arthur Hill plays
opposite him as Tige.
      George All, who takes the part of "Tige," is very clever. If there ever was a man who grew into the skin of a sagacious brindle pup more perfectly than he, it has never been known, This make-believe "pup" is about the funniest "made" article that ever came over the pike. He is  warranted to cure a chronic case of the blues. His muzzle is more doggish than his original of the cartoon drawing; in fact, he affects a great deal of "dog" in all his actions. He has a wicked eye, which he rolls ominously at "dear grandma," and when she appears in his proximity his teeth show very dangerously. He is quite as much an actor as 'Buster." He can play "mad dog," "Scotch collie" (where he delights in his plaid and cap for a show occasion), and in general protection of the place; in fact any child might be happy in the possession of such a sagacious and humorous beast.
      On the whole, the present offering is far more successful than the general run of dramatizations in that it pleases young and old alike.
      This is positively the same company that appeared at the Academy last season and scored such a big hit.
Buster Brown played by Harold West, 1911.

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