Mrs Dooley's Little Joke

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Mrs Dooley's Little Joke is a musical comedy by P. Finn (fl.1900) and John F. Sheridan (1848-1908)[], with lyrics and music by Fred W. Weierter ()[].

Also found as Mrs Dooley's Little Joke! and Mrs Goldstein.

The original text

Set in the Melbourne house of newly-married Arthur Menzies, who is trying to keep from his bride the fact that he owns a racehorse, and keep his mother-in-law, Rachel Mendoza (whom he has never met), from ever entering his house. During the ensuing dinner party the mother-in-law tricks her way into the house, pretending that she is Mrs Goldstein, a friend of the young actress Polly Belcher and in town visiting prior to the running of the Melbourne Cup. Arthur soon finds himself inviting the remarkably go-ahead, good-natured woman, to lunch the next day at a sporting hotel. In professing his love for a Miss Carbine, Arthur unknowingly sets the mother-in-law on the trail of attempting to discover who this "woman" is and to what extent her son-in-law loves her. Eventually, after many misunderstandings, all is worked out, and Mrs Goldstein is relieved to know that Miss Carbine is a thoroughbred racehorse… who just goes on to win the Cup and present Arthur with a handsome return.

Produced for the first time on at Sydney's Criterion Theatre by John F. Sheridan, under the title Mrs Goldstein, 20-24 October, 1902, with John F. Sheridan adopting a Jewish accent in the role of "Mrs Goldstein". Performed at the Opera House in Wellington, New Zealand, as Mrs Dooley's Little Joke in 1903, (the Jewish character having been turned into an Irish one), with John F. Sheridan now in the role of "Mrs Dooley", and repeated at the Criterion Theatre 19 August 1905 (also as Mrs Dooley's Little Joke).

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1904: Performed as Mrs Dooley's Little Joke in South Africa as part of the repertoire of the Sheridan Comedy Company while on a six month tour of the country. They played during September in the Good Hope Theatre, Cape Town (under the management of Frank and Ben Wheeler). Besides the actor manager John F. Sheridan himself, the piece featured the popular midget[1] performer John Rumbelow (known as "Little Gulliver")


"Mrs Goldstein": [aka "Mrs Dooley's Little Joke"] The Australian Variety Theatre Archive: p. 360[2]

"John Rumbelow, "Little Gulliver" 14/1/1876-12/1/1906". Posted on the blog "In Loving Memory" by Otago Taphophile on Sunday, 27 January 2019[3]

Otago Witness, Issue 2705, 17 January 1906, Page 59, PapersPast website[4].

Evening Post, Volume LXVI, Issue 49, 26 AUGUST 1903[5]

D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p.421

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