Hyacinths and roses in women’s elaborately dressed coiffures created less comment than three top-hats which were doffed in greeting to friends of the wearers.
Not for years has a theatre audience seen so few coats and skirts. One dress which caught the eye was the black frock worn by Miss Jocelyn Rickard, who covered her shoulders with a
beaded and sequinned net shawl made from a 1920 frock. The shawl shimmered like moonlight as she walked.
Practically all women wore full-length formal evening dresses and covered their frocks with luxurious furs.
Short blue fox and platina fox fur coats rubbed shoulders with plain and treated mouton, orchids were worn in many shoulder corsages, and many men sported carnations or sprigs of daphne in their buttonholes.
The audience had caught the spirit of the first night and seemed unwilling to leave the excitement of the theatre entrance for the quiet of their seats.
But even to get to their seats ticket-holders had to force their way through packed crowds.
Many first-nighters caught up in the glamour of the theatrical occasion arrived at 7 o’clock – an unusual occurrence.
Excitement among members of the audience trying to get to their seats grew as the clock moved towards eight. “Spruikers” did a good trade outside the theatre selling copies of the play, the official “Old Vic” souvenir was on sale inside the doors, and programme sellers ran out of six-pences for change.
The crowd was so thick in the foyer that people could only inch their way towards the stairways. There was such a packed mass that only heads and shoulders of people could be seen, with, at one moment, the bearded head of “Chips” Rafferty towering above everybody else.
Although there were small crowds on the pavement outside the theatre and on the opposite side of the street, the lack of kleig lights probably removed the glamour for people who are used to Sydney film premieres.
The Governor-General, Mr. McKell, and Mrs. McKell, with Miss Betty McKell and members of the vice-regal party were met by Mr. D. D. O’Connor, manager in Australia for the Old Vic Company. Mrs McKell was presented with a large branch of orchids.
During the one fifteen-minute interval the theatre was like an “old home” meeting. People skirted around the chocolate vendors to greet friends, talk loudly and ecstatically about the performance, wave to friends they had not seen for ages, and discuss the results of influenza germs. Some people actually got up from a sick bed to attend the premiere.
The audience comprised practically all the well-known first nighters, but there were many people who had not been seen at a Sydney first night for years.
“It is hoped that this revived interest in the theatre will last after the Old Vic Company has departed,” said one woman.
At the final curtain Sir Laurence Olivier expressed his gratification at the reception given, the play and the company.
“We feel that perhaps the play has been better perpetrated, but we cannot feel that it has been more nobly listened to,” he said. “We thank you most warmly and do not feel we have justified it,
but we will try.”
Sir Laurence said that the company appreciated the warmth of Sydney’s welcome; he paid tribute to the work of the management; the orchestra, and “the lads behind the stage for getting things ready for us so quickly.”
he Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, Alderman R. J. and Mrs. Bartley, who will give a reception at the Town Hall this afternoon for Sir Laurence and Lady Olivier, were in the audience, which included diplomatic and consular representatives, film and theatrical personalities, and the leaders of social life in Sydney.
After the performance Mr. and Mrs. O’Connor, who were married recently in Melbourne, entertained about 50 guests in the dress-circle foyer to meet Sir Laurence and Lady Olivier and members of the company.
Review: SEASON OPENS
Sparkling Old Vic
The Old Vic Company’s opening performance of Sheridan’s “School for Scandal” at the Tivoli last night was a comedy of manners so beautifully and confidently produced and so richly exact in
the polish of its highly stylised detail of movement and gesture andcostume, that it was virtually ballet with words. If there are cobwebs and dust in the comedies of Sheridan, Sir Laurence Olivier’s production was brilliantly calculated to let the sun and air of perfected style clear them away and to send the posturing and pantomiming characters in and out of the extravagances of Sheridan’s plot on a shining ray of wit and laughter. The performance rippled with life and joy.