Luscombe Searelle

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Luscombe Searelle (1860-1907)[1] was an actor, singer, dramatist, composer, conductor and manager.

He first arrived in South Africa with his family in 1887. He toured the country with his productions and opened the Theatre Royal in Johannesburg, where he performed operas, as well as plays. He presented his wife Blanche Fenton, in the opera Maritana and followed this with his own operas Isidora, Bobadil and Estrella, productions also staged in Pretoria and Cape Town.

From 1891 he began to concentrate on plays rather than operas, doing serious plays (e.g. Macbeth, ) as well as lighter fare (Forget me not,).

In 1891-2 he brought out the world-renowned American-born opera singer and actress Genevieve Ward to tour South Africa for nine months. They presented an astounding 26 plays, sixteen in Johannesburg alone. The tour encompassed all the major towns, but en route two of the company died and the tour was cut short. Another popular performer was W.Vernon.

On Tuesday, February 22, 1898, Searelle's Theatre Royal building was put up for auction by Richard Currie's Sales. The building, with a frontage of 100 feet, was situated on plots 316, 317, 320 and 321, central Commissioner Street, Marshall's Town, Johannesburg. The building consisted of a theatre, shops, bar, tearooms, cafes and Searelle Chambers, and was built using the best quality burnt bricks. There were also a barber, tobacconist and watchmaker's shops. There were also seven two-roomed offices with private toilets. Electric lights and water were supplied. Facing Fox Street were four semi-detached, double-storied houses, each containing five rooms, a kitchen, a pantry etc.


Eastern Province Herald, Friday, January 21, 1898.

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