You are here: The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive > British Musical Theatre > Authors > Harry Greenbank

British Musical Theatre   Bantok

GREENBANK, Harry [GREENBANK, Henry Harveston] (b London, 11 September 1865; d Boscombe, 26 February 1899). Short-lived lyricist to the influential British series of Daly's Theatre musicals.

The young Harry Greenbank first succeeded in placing one of his works at the Savoy Theatre, when his musical playlet Captain Billy, set by the company's musical director Frank Cellier, was staged there as a curtain-raiser to The Nautch Girl. He continued to write such small-scale pieces over the following years, both for the Savoy and for the Lyric Theatre, and it was at the latter house that Horace Sedger allotted him the job of supplying the English lyrics to F C Burnand's adaptation of the French operette Le Coeur et la main (Incognita).

It was, thereafter, as a lyricist that Greenbank found his niche, and it was he whom George Edwardes chose, shortly after, when he put together the team of neophytes (Sidney Jones, Owen Hall and Greenbank) from whom he commissioned the musical comedy A Gaiety Girl. After the enormous worldwide success of that piece, the three stayed together and subsequently formed the backbone of the team which produced the famous series of Daly's Theatre musicals – An Artist's Model, The Geisha, A Greek Slave and San Toy.

Greenbank also provided lyrics for two of the most successful of the lighter brand of shows produced by Edwardes at the Gaiety Theatre – The Circus Girl and A Runaway Girl – and ventured twice as a librettist-lyricist, once with an original musical, Monte Carlo, and once with an adaptation of Lecocq's La Petite Mademoiselle as The Scarlet Feather. His other assignments included additional lyrics for The Bric à Brac Will (1895) and, posthumously, a song for the London production of A Chinese Honeymoon (1901, `Roses Red and White').

Always extremely delicate of constitution, Greenbank was rarely seen in public and during the production of A Greek Slave moved, with his wife and son, to England's southern coast in an attempt to regain some strength. He died there whilst engaged in writing the lyrics for San Toy, and the piece was completed by Adrian Ross, who, with Greenbank, was largely responsible for establishing the job of lyricist (as opposed to all-in writer, or co-writer) in the modern musical theatre.

1891 Captain Billy (François Cellier) 1 act Savoy Theatre 24 September

1892 Incognita (Le Coeur et la main) English lyrics (Lyric Theatre)

1892 The Young Recruit (Le Dragon de la reine) English lyrics w Adrian Ross, Harry Nicholls (Newcastle)

1892 Beef Tea (Wilfred Bendall) 1 act Lyric Theatre 22 October

1893 Poor Jonathan (Der arme Jonathan) English lyrics (Prince of Wales Theatre)

1893 Mr Jericho (Ernest Ford) 1 act Savoy Theatre 24 March

1893 A Gaiety Girl (Sidney Jones/Owen Hall) Prince of Wales Theatre 14 October

1894 Mirette (André Messager/Frederick E Weatherly) Savoy Theatre 3 July

1894 The House of Lords (Ford, George Byng) 1 act Lyric Theatre 6 July

1895 An Artist's Model (Jones/Hall) Daly's Theatre 2 February

1896 The Geisha (Jones/Hall) Daly's Theatre 25 April

1896 Monte Carlo (Howard Talbot) Avenue Theatre 27 August

1896 The Circus Girl (Ivan Caryll/w Adrian Ross/James T. Tanner, Walter Palings) Gaiety Theatre 5 December

1897 The Scarlet Feather (La Petite Mademoiselle) English book and lyrics (Shaftesbury Theatre)

1897 Old Sarah (F. Cellier) 1 act Savoy Theatre 17 June

1898 A Runaway Girl (Caryll, Monckton/w Aubrey Hopwood/Seymour Hicks, Harry Nicholls) Gaiety Theatre 21 May

1898 A Greek Slave (Jones/Hall) Daly's Theatre 8 June

1899 San Toy (Jones/w Adrian Ross/Edward Morton) Daly's Theatre 21 October

British Musical Theatre | Authors

   Page created 1 June 2017 Copyright © 2017 Paul Howarth All Rights Reserved