Casino des Folies
A long time ago I acquired a delightful little programme that looked as if it was for a venue called the Casino des Folies. The artwork by Ada Peacock is one of my favourites . But what was it for? and what or where was the Casino des Folies?
The programme was only four pages and the front featured a stunning piece of artwork signed AP and seemingly dated 1930. This provided a positive clue to the identity of the artist who was clearly Ada Peacock and the date was therefore 1930. The inside of the programme looked as if it was listing a series of scenes from something called ‘Grande Revue L’Eternelle Jeunesse’ and it was all in French.
The listing of the performers was strange as only one – Carlos and Chita avec Cie – resonated and could be identified. The others were somewhat elusive although as it transpires, I simply did not try hard enough.
At first, because the programme was in French and clearly ‘labelled’ the Casino Des Folies, I did think that this may have been for a one-off performance staged in Paris.
But after doing some research I did conclude that the act – Carlos and Chita- appeared in the C.B. Cochran show Evergreen and this chimed with the fact that Ada Peacock did design for Cochran.
More recently I acquired the actual programme for Ever Green staged at the Adelphi Theatre in late 1930 and there inside was the Casino des Folies programme.
Looking at the text in the programme all the character’s represented in the Casino des Folies programme were in the Evergreen programme and the main character – Harriet Green – was played by Jessie Matthews.
All of the scenes that depicted the ‘action’ around the Casino de Paris were designed by Ada Peacock and made by Gaston Zanel in Paris.
The Casino des Folies programme was therefore a ‘fake’ or a ‘spoof’ and merely a means of depicting the action that takes place within Cochran’s extravagant musical Evergreen.
The plot of Ever Green revolved around Harriet Green (Jessie Matthews), a music hall star of the Edwardian period, who gave birth, out of wedlock, to a daughter. Harriet raises her daughter in South Africa away from the spotlight. But when grown up, the daughter, Harriet Hawkes, returns to London to try to enter showbusiness. A publicity man, Tommy, sees that young Harriet is a dead ringer for her famous mother and convinces a theatre producer to star her in a new revue as a miraculously youthful Harriet Green. The public believes the ruse, but also believes that Tommy is her son. This leads to complications, because Harriet and Tommy fall in love.
What is represented within Ever Green are scenes within scenes as Harriet Green and company appear at the Casino des Folies in Paris in a revue called ‘L’Eternelle Jeunesse’. It is this that is partly replicated in the Casino des Folies programme.