John Le Hay

John Le Hay


Life and career

Le Hay was born in Dublin, Ireland.

Early career

As a young actor, Le Hay traveled with a minstrel troupe, where his gift for ventriloquism was soon evident. He was engaged by Edgar Bruce in 1879 for the Royalty Theatre, where he worked as an understudy and appeared in the chorus of a revival of Stephenson and Sullivan's "The Zoo". Later that year he joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, serving in the chorus on tour. He appeared in the single copyright performance of "The Pirates of Penzance" in Paignton on December 30, 1879, as James, a role that was included in the libretto only for that performance. During 1880 and 1881, he also appeared as Mr. Liverby in "In the Sulks", a curtain raiser that accompanied "H.M.S. Pinafore".

From 1881 to 1883, Le Hay toured as the principal comedian with a D'Oyly Carte touring company, playing J. W. Wells in "The Sorcerer", Sir Joseph Porter in "H.M.S. Pinafore", and Major General Stanley in "Pirates". He also appeared briefly in the tenor role of Ralph Rackstraw in "Pinafore" and filled in as Frederic in "Pirates" on one occasion.

Le Hay then left the D'Oyly Carte organisation and played in pantomime, in low comedies with Cooper Cole's Strand Company, and for several years with Edward Terry. In 1886, he created the part of Tom Strutt in Alfred Cellier's "Dorothy" at the Gaiety Theatre, London|Gaiety Theatre] and the role of Crook in Cellier's "Doris" (1889). He then played Private Smith in "The Red Hussar" (1889), Jacob in "The Red Rover" (1890), Prince Bulbo in "The Rose and the Ring" (1890), and Sir Guy of Gisborne in "Maid Marian" (1891).

, through the end of the run in June 1894.

Later years

Later in 1894 he appeared with Lillian Russell in "The Queen of Brilliants", and then as Mats Munck in Gilbert and Carr's "His Excellency". He would later play the same part in New York, with a George Edwardes touring company. In 1896, he played Alexander McGregor in the musical comedy "My Girl". [Hollingshead (1903), p. 74] He appeared in New York as Hassan in Hood and Sullivan's "The Rose of Persia" (1900, opposite Ruth Vincent as the Sultana) and as Coquenard in "Veronique".

He toured America three times and South Africa once. His talents as a ventriloquist were in demand, and he appeared on several occasions before King Edward VII to perform this skill. Le Hay's stage career continued until his death in 1926. One of his last roles was in Thomas Hardy's "Tess" in 1925-1926. On November 1 1926, Le Hay was struck by a car after leaving the Lyceum Theatre in London, where he had been appearing as Florent, the butler, in "The Padre".

Le Hay died the next day at the age of 77. He was married to D'Oyly Carte performer Marian May.



*cite book|last=Ayre|first=Leslie|year=1972|title=The Gilbert & Sullivan Companion|location=London|publisher=W.H. Allen & Co Ltd Introduction by Martyn Green.
*Hollingshead, John. "Good Old Gaiety: An Historiette & Remembrance" (1903) London:Gaity Theatre Co

External links

* [ John Le Hay] at Who Was Who in the D'Oyly Carte
* [ IBDB list of Broadway shows]
* [ Profile of Le Hay]
* [ Listing of several "Cinderalla" pantomimes in which Le Hay appeared]
* [ Information about Le Hay]

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