Dion Boucicault Jr.


Dion Boucicault Jr.

's "Mr. Pim Passes By"---Punch, 14 January 1920]

Dion Boucicault Jr., born Dionysius George Boucicault, (23 May 185925 June 1929) was an actor and stage director.

Early life

Boucicault was born in New York, the third child of Dionysius Lardner Bourcicault, the well-known actor and dramatist, and his wife, Agnes Kelly "née" Robertson (1833-1916), who was also well known on the stage. Boucicault was educated at Esher, Cuddington and Paris, and served briefly in the militia.cite web |url=http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A030189b.htm |title=Boucicault, Dionysius George (Dot) (1859 - 1929) |accessdate=2008-02-19 |author=Helen M. van der Poorten |work=Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3 |publisher=MUP |year=1969 |pages=pp 200-202]

Theatrical career

Boucicault made his stage début in his father's play, "Louis XI" at Booth's Theatre in New York City on 11 October 1879. His London début was in November 1880, when he played Andy in another of his father's plays, "Andy Blake". From then he was constantly on the stage either playing himself or directing productions. In 1885 he went to Australia with his father and decided to remain there. He entered into partnership with Robert Brough in 1886, and at the Bijou Theatre in Melbourne and the Criterion in Sydney a long series of plays by Robertson, Pinero, Jones and other dramatists of the period was produced with great care and artistry. A fine company was assembled which included Boucicault's. sister Nina, afterwards to make a reputation in London, G. S. Titheradge, and G. W. Anson. Though modern comedy was usually played there was one excursion into Shakespeare, a notable performance of Much Ado About Nothing with Titheradge as Benedick, and Mrs Brough as Beatrice. Boucicault had invaluable experience both as a producer and as an actor, and when he returned to London in 1896 he was capable of taking any part that his lack of height, 5ft 7ins (170 cm), did not disqualify him for. On 20 January 1898 he played one of his most successful parts, Sir William Gower, in "Trelawney of the Wells", and a long succession of important parts followed, including many characters of 'crusty senility'. He directed the first production of Peter Pan and other well-known plays by Barrie, Milne and various leading dramatists of the time.

Boucicault visited Australia again in 1923 with his wife Irene Vanbrugh, with a repertoire which included "Mr Pim Passes By", "Belinda", "The Second Mrs Tanquerary", "Trelawney of the Wells", "His House in Order" and "Aren't We All". Two other visits followed in 1926, when he was accompanied by Brian Aherne, and 1927-28 when plays by J. M. Barrie, Milne and others were staged.

Late life and legacy

Boucicault's health began to deteriorate in Australia, and returning to England via New Zealand, he in died Berkshire on 25 June 1929, survived by his wife. A portrait of him by Byam Shaw is at the National Gallery, Melbourne. Boucicault was a great producer of comedy and paid great attention to detail. In Australia he set a standard that has seldom, if ever, been surpassed. He was a most finished actor in a wide range of parts and in his later years became the legitimate successor of Sir John Hare in playing old men's parts. News of his death in Australia had critics mourning his death.

References


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