The Better 'Ole - Bandman Opera Company
The Bandman Opera Company was established in 1899 by Maurice E Bandman, and became one of the leading overseas touring theatrical companies, playing throughout Egypt and the Near East and India and the Far East.
The company was well-known for presenting seasons of some of the most popular plays from England, and between 1917 and 1921 The Better 'Ole featured in their repertoire of productions. They staged the great Bairnsfather play at theatres from Bombay to Tokyo, to great success.
.Although no complete schedule of the Bandman Opera Company's productions of The Better 'Ole exists, it has been possible to trace a number of dates they produced the play, and these are detailed below.
17, 18, 19 December 1917 – Excelsior Theatre, Bombay
Special performance given before nearly 1,000 wounded war heroes….
? January 1918 - ? Theatre, Calcutta
29, 30 April 1918 – Excelsior Theatre, Bombay
1 May 1918 – Excelsior Theatre, Bombay
5 May 1918 – Excelsior Theatre, Bombay
14 May 1918 – Excelsior Theatre, Bombay
25 May 1918 – Excelsior Theatre, Bombay
6 June 1918 – Excelsior Theatre, Bombay
2 November 1918 – Excelsior Theatre, Bombay
? February 1920 – Municipal Theatre, ?, Greece
? April 1921 – Lyceum Theatre, Shanghai
? May 1921 – Lyceum Theatre, Shanghai
? June 1921 – Lyceum Theatre, Shanghai
29 May 1921 – Imperial Theatre, Tokyo
1 August 1921 – Victoria Theatre, Malaya
? October 1921 – Excelsior Theatre, Bombay
While some actors were longstanding members of the company, others changed from season to season. At least two actors are known to have played Old Bill. Details of identified cast members are given here.
CAST – December 1917
Old Bill – Fred Winn
Bert – Con Cooper
Alf – Billy Rex
Cast - 1921
Old Bill – Dan Mansfield
Bert – Jerry Verno
Alf – Jack Crichton
Victoire – Madeline Rossiter
Captain of the War Workers – Dolly Prince
Sergeant – Eric Masters
The Spy (Dubois) – Harry Reynolds
French Officer – Roy Smith