Quality Street (play)

Quality Street (play)

"Quality Street" is a comedy in four acts by J. M. Barrie, who would later become famous for his creation "Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up". The story is about two sisters who start a school "for genteel children".

It opened at the Knickerbocker Theatre in New York on November 11 1901, produced by Charles Frohman and starring Maude Adams, but ran for only a modestly successful 64 performances. It then opened at the Vaudeville Theatre in London on 17 September 1902 and ran for a very successful 459 performances, starring Ellaline Terriss, Seymour Hicks and Marion Terry, making it one of the first American productions to score a bigger triumph in London than in New York. The piece then enjoyed numerous revivals and tours.

When Hicks and Terriss moved to a new home, The Old Forge at Merstham, Surrey, their cul-de-sac was renamed "Quality Street". [ [http://www.oldreigate.com/?goto=qualitystreet Photos and information about Hicks and Terriss's home at "Quality Street" in Merstham] ]

Roles and 1902 London cast

*Valentine Brown - Suitor of Miss Phoebe – Seymour Hicks
*Miss Phoebe Throssel - A School Mistress – Ellaline Terriss
*Miss Livvy - Alter ego of Phoebe – Ellaline Terris
*Ensign Blades - A Young Officer – A. Vane Tempest
*Lieutenant Spicer - A Young Officer – Vincent Sternroyd
*Susan Throssell - Sister to Phoebe – Marion Terry
*Patty - Maid-of-all-work in service of the Throssell sisters – Rosini Filippi
*Recruiting Sergeant – George Shelton
*A Waterloo Veteran – Charles Daly
*A Gallant –
*Arthur Wellesley Tomson – George Hersee
*Miss Willoughby – Henrietta Watson
*Miss Fanny Willoughby – Irene Rooke
*Miss Henrietta Turnbull – Constance Hyem
*Miss Charlotte Parratt – May Taverner
*Isabella – Winifred Hall
*Harriett – Edith Heslewood


The play is set in Napoleonic times.

;Act 1There is heightened anticipation as the local gossips of the town discuss the developing relationship between Miss Phoebe Throssel and Valentine Brown. Phoebe then confesses to her sister, Susan, that Brown intends to drop by later that day, and both are certain he means to propose. When he finally does appear, it is not to ask for Phoebe's hand in marriage but to announce his intention to join the fight in Europe against Napoleon. This leaves the girls devastated.

;Act 2Ten years after the departure of Brown, we find the girls have set up a school in order to pay the rent. Phoebe has not accepted any other suitor and has allowed herself to become an 'Old Maid' and school mistress. Phoebe, however, longs for her youth, and the return of Captain Brown only deepens her melancholy. "I am tired of being lady-like," she declares. With some encouragement from her maid, Patty, she creates the fictional character of Miss Livvy, a more energetic, flirtatious and naughty version of her younger self, and begins to tease Captain Brown who, captivated by her, persuades her and Susan to accompany him to the ball.

;Act 3It is the scene of the ball, and Phoebe is still playing the part of Miss Livvy. In this guise, she has captured the eyes of many of the young men and the scorn of ladies. However, Phoebe is now annoyed that Brown seems to prefer this unsubstantial 'young' flirt that she has created to her true personality and qualities. Her actions cause events to come to a head as her act is almost brought to light by the local gossiping girls Fanny Willoughby and Henrietta Turnbull. In a final confrontation with Captain Brown, we discover that he has found his love for Miss Phoebe and not for Miss Livvy, as he insists that "I have discovered for myself that the schoolmistress in her old maid's cap is the noblest Miss Phoebe of them all."

;Act 4Miss Livvy still hangs heavy over the sisters: having been created, she is now difficult to dispose of. The local gossips watch for any sign of Miss Livvy and frequently visit the sisters' home. Brown comes to ask for Phoebe’s hand and is turned down without explanation. As a result, he becomes aware of the disguise and the sisters' plight and sets out to right all wrongs, even his own.



* [http://www.ibdb.com/production.asp?ID=5513 Information about the Broadway production]
* [http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/stage2/produce/quali/th-quali.html Review, cast list, photos of the London production]
* [http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/dgkeysearchresult.cfm?parent_id=1038980&word= Photos from "Quality Street"] ]

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