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TANNER, James T[olman] (b London, 17 October 1858; d London, 18 June 1915). Architect-in-chief of the George Edwardes musical comedies.

In his earliest years in the theatre Tanner worked with Alice Dunning-Lingard as a scene-painter and actor, and toured with Horace Lingard and Auguste van Biene's companies, first as an actor (Volteface in The Old Guard etc), then as company manager and stage director. In 1892 he added the function of playwright by appointment to this list when he provided the dramatically inclined cellist who was his employer with a vehicle which would allow him to wring withers and to play his instrument in the same evening. The play Tanner turned out, The Broken Melody, was an enormous success on the touring circuits, and van Biene trouped his musical weepie for many years from Blackpool to Broadway to Brisbane.

By the early 1890s van Biene had gone up in the world. He was touring the major road versions of the Gaiety Theatre's burlesque productions and, in 1892, his Faust Up-to-Date company (directed by Tanner) was popped briefly into the Gaiety to fill a gap in the house schedule. George Edwardes's eye fell on the obviously useful Tanner, who soon exchanged touring for a place with Edwardes's organization. He retained that place through two decades, becoming one of the most important members of the Edwardes establishment as constructor of the libretti for his shows, stage director, and all-round ally and confidant to the great producer.

Tanner's first West End directing credit was on the shortlived The Baroness, but soon after Edwardes entrusted him with the construction (billed as 'James Leader') and the staging of his new-style musical play In Town (1892). He next had Tanner provide the outline on which Owen Hall would construct A Gaiety Girl (1893), and gave him the unfinished burlesque of Don Juan, which the late Fred Leslie had begun, to complete and stage as a vehicle for Arthur Roberts. Tanner directed the original Gaiety production of The Shop Girl (1894) and Daly's Theatre's An Artist's Model (1895) as well as A Modern Trilby (1895) for Nellie Farren, but thereafter, although he directed his own The Ballet Girl for Broadway (w Frederick Leon) in 1898, he mostly left the staging to Edwardes's other principal aide, J A E ('Pat') Malone, and concentrated largely on evolving the outlines and libretti of the shows with which Edwardes conquered the theatrical world in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

1892 In Town (F Osmond Carr/w Adrian Ross) Prince of Wales Theatre, 15 October

1893 Don Juan (Meyer Lutz/Ross) Gaiety Theatre, 28 October

1895 All Abroad (Frederick Rosse et al/w Owen Hall) Portsmouth, 1 April

1895 Bobbo (Carr/Ross) 1 act Prince's Theatre, Manchester, 12 September

1896 The Clergyman's Daughter (Carr/Ross) Theatre Royal, Birmingham, 13 April

1896 My Girl revised The Clergyman's Daughter Gaiety Theatre, 1 December

1896 The Circus Girl (Caryll, Monckton/Ross, Harry Greenbank/w Walter Palings) Gaiety Theatre, 5 December

1897 The Ballet Girl (Carl Kiefert/Ross) Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, 15 March

1898 The Transit of Venus (Napoleon Lambelet/Ross) Dublin, 9 April

1900 The Messenger Boy (Caryll, Monckton/Ross, H Greenbank/w Alfred Murray) Gaiety Theatre, 3 February

1901 The Toreador (Caryll, Monckton/Ross, Percy Greenbank/w Harry Nicholls) Gaiety Theatre, 17 June

1902 A Country Girl (Monckton/Ross, P Greenbank) Daly's Theatre, 18 January

1903 The Orchid (Caryll, Monckton/Ross, P Greenbank) Gaiety Theatre, 26 October

1904 The Cingalee (Monckton/Ross, P Greenbank) Daly's Theatre, 5 March

1906 A New Aladdin (Caryll, Monckton/Ross, P Greenbank et al/w W H Risque) Gaiety Theatre, 29 September

1909 Our Miss Gibbs (Monckton, Caryll/Ross, P Greenbank/w 'Cryptos'), Gaiety Theatre 23 January

1910 A Quaker Girl (Monckton/Ross, P Greenbank) Adelphi Theatre, 5 November

1912 The Dancing Mistress (Monckton/Ross, P Greenbank) Adelphi Theatre, 19 October

1913 The Girl on the Film (Filmzauber) English libretto (Gaiety Theatre)

1913 The Girl from Utah (Sidney Jones, Paul Rubens/Ross, P Greenbank, Rubens) Adelphi Theatre, 18 October

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