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Poster advertising the Middlesex Music Hall 578

Poster advertising the Middlesex Music Hall 578

Printer: Pewtreis & Co

Medium: Print on paper

Date: 1874

Shelfmark: Evan.578

Item number: 578

Genre: Poster

This poster for the Middlesex Music Hall in Drury Lane advertises two well known performers of the time: George Leybourne and JH Milburn. Leybourne was perhaps the most famous member of the 'Lions Comique', a loose amalgam of character singers who all took the persona of a London 'swell' - quaffing champagne, frequenting fashionable boutiques and clubs, and making louche remarks about the ladies of the day. The Lions wore flamboyant stage costume, such as fur coats, and brandished walking canes, monocles and diamond rings in a comically exaggerated fashion.

As well as being very successful in their time, the Lions popularised a number of words and phrases that persist to this day in the English language. Leybourne's song 'Champagne Charlie' remains a staple of tabloid headlines, while his rival Arthur Lloyd's song 'Walking in the Zoo' is credited with giving us the popular contraction of the term 'Zoological Gardens'.

Not all of the songs were quite as successful. Leybourne's song 'Lounging in the Aq' failed to do for the aquarium what Lloyd had done for the zoo.

JH Milburn's son, GH MacDermott, followed his father into variety, becoming one of the most famous actor-managers of his day.

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