The Girl from Kay's

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The Girl from Kay's is a musical comedy in three acts by Owen Hall (1853-1907)[1], with music by Ivan Caryll (1861-1921)[2].

The original text

The story of the complications caused by a misunderstanding that arises when Norah and Harry are about to leave on their honeymoon, and Nora sees Winnie, the girl from Kays hat shop (and an old friend of the groom), kissing her new husband.

First performed at the Apollo Theatre, London, on 15 November 1902 and moving to the Comedy Theatre on 14 December 1903. It eventually had a run of 432 performances, followed by provincial tours. In the USA it played at the Herald Square Theatre, beginning 3 November 1903, and also successful runs in Australia and South Africa.

An interesting sequel to the South African performances is that the South African cartoonist and critic Daniël Cornelis Boonzaier saw the show and, inspired by the name of the American millionaire called "Hoggenheimer" (who takes a liking to Winnie in the play) would create the figure "Max Hoggenheimer", to serve as a frequent symbol of the avaricious and oppressive Randlords and mining capitalism in his popular cartoons between 1903 and 1940.

Translations and adaptations

The musical was later revised as The Belle of Bond Street by Harold Atteridge and Owen Hall (with music by Ivan Caryll and Lionel Monckton) and produced at the Shubert Theatre, New York, from 30 March to 9 May, 1914 and then opened at the Adelphi Theatre, London, on 8 June 1914, running till 17 July 1914.

Performance history in South Africa

1903: Presented under the auspices of the Wheeler Company at the Good Hope Theatre, Cape Town, as part of a season of musical plays by a visiting company consisting of Myles Clifton, Victor Gouriet, Maud Marsland, Gertie Lester and Norah Brocklebank. They occupied the theatre from 10 August till 23 October.


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: pp.416

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