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Tita in Thibet

Tita in Thibet (aka Brum, a Birmingham Merchant) is an English two-act musical comedy by Frank Desprez. It opened at the Royalty Theatre in London on 1 January 1879.

Tita in Thibet was written as a vehicle for the music hall star Kate Santley. W. H. Seymour, who would become the stage manager of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company for 20 years, also played in the piece.

It became Desprez's most frequently played work and was later played by the Majilton theatre company more than a thousand times in the British provinces.

Synopsis

Brum, a European idol merchant, has a jealous wife named Tita. Two Tibetan merchants and a young tea-gardener all seek to wed Tita. They point out that the customs of the country permit every wife to have four husbands. Brum is disgusted and enraged. To punish her husband for imagined flirtations, Tita pretends to be charmed with the idea, and she agrees to meet her suitors in the Temple of Fo for the necessary ceremonies. Brum disguises himself as an idol to watch the ceremony. Complications ensue, and all ends happily

Critical Reception

The Era, a London newspaper, reviewed the piece on Sunday, 5 January 1879, p.12c/d, as follows:
...The story professes to take as its text the following extract from an article in a well-known periodical: "There exists in Thibet one of those extraordinary marriage customs which are to be found in out of the way parts of the world." The scene of the first act shows us the outside of Brum’s house in Lum-ti-Foo. Brum is a European who has established himself among the natives as an idol merchant. He has a jealous wife whose name is Tita. To try her he has placed in his pocket a packet of letters, which she imagines have been addressed to some fair rival. She would like to be revenged, and presently comes her opportunity. Chin-Chin – a mandarin of second class – has long cast loving eyes on Tita, and he reminds Brum of the custom of the country, which permits every wife to have four husbands. He points out the economical advantages of this system, and he proposes to become a co-husband with Brum, much, of course, to Brum’s disgust. No sooner has his proposal been made than a similar one is put forward by Po-Hi, a mandarin of the first class, and by Young Hyson, who is described as an impassioned young tea-gardener.

"For the fun of the thing," and to punish her husband, Tita pretends to be charmed with the idea, and it is arranged that she shall meet her suitors in the Temple of Fo for the completion of the necessary ceremonies which are to give each a fourth part of a wife. What wonder that Brum in his rage strangles somebody! He takes refuge in the Temple of Fo – the scene of the second act – and, finding there the Great Bonze and the Little Bonze, lamenting that their idol, which has been sent to Brum for repairs, has not been returned, and that the proposed ceremonies cannot go on, he determines to turn idol himself, and to take its place. In this character he presently has to listen to the amatory declarations of his rivals, who are gulled by Tita, seeing that by the use of feminine attire she causes Chin-Chin to be made love to by the other two. The necessary reconciliation with Brum is thus brought about, and the time arrives for the fall of the curtain.

Miss Santley appeared as Tita, a part which seemed to please her immensely. Her singing, like her speaking, was spoiled by affectation, although it is only right to say that in "I wish I was a man" and in "Poor Mrs. B." – both songs of the Music Hall class – she was vociferously applauded by the youths in the gallery. In the second act Miss Santley wears a dress which gives a very liberal display of personal charms. Mr. W.H. Fisher played the part of Brum with considerable "go," and his acting in the idol business of the second act was decidedly funny. Mr. Charles Groves exhibited some dry humour as Chin-Chin, but the everlasting talk about the umbrella which he carries may be modified with advantage. Very comical indeed was the Po-Hi of Mr. Frederick Leslie, whose method of indicating mental anguish called forth considerable merriment. Miss Alma Stanley made an imposing Young Hyson, and was of service in the interpretation of the music; the Great and Little Bonzes being respectively represented by Mr. C.A. White and Mr. W.H. Seymour. To those in search of a good and refined entertainment we certainly cannot recommend a visit to the Royalty.

Roles

  • Brum (a European idol merchant)
  • Tita (his jealous wife)
  • Chin-Chin (a mandarin of second class, in love with Tita)
  • Po-Hi (a mandarin of the first class who also seeks to marry Tita)
  • Young Hyson (an impassioned young tea-gardener)
  • The Great Bonze
  • The Little Bonze

Songs

Songs in the show include:

  • "I wish I was a man"
  • "Poor Mrs. B."

External links

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