is a farce
in three acts written by Brandon Thomas
. It broke all historic records
for plays of any kind, with an original London run of 1,466
was first performed at the Theatre Royal,
Bury St Edmunds on 29 February 1892.
It was produced by
former D'Oyly Carte Opera
actor, W. S. Penley
, a friend
of Thomas's, who appeared in the principal role of Lord Fancourt
Babberly. Thomas himself played Sir Francis Chesney. The piece was a
success, and it then opened in London at the
Theatre on 21 December 1892 and quickly transferred to the
larger Globe Theatre on 30 January 1893 to complete its record-breaking
on Broadway at the
Standard Theatre on 2 October 1893, where it ran for another
historic long run of four years. The play also toured
internationally (with long runs in Paris and
elsewhere) and was revived extensively.
versions of the play were
released in 1915
1925, the latter featuring Sydney
(brother of Charlie
) and Ethel Shannon
" film version starring Charles Ruggles
was released in 1930, and is
one of the earliest "talkie" comedies
took the leading role in a
1940 British film Charley's Aunt
developed themes from the original play. Perhaps the best known
film version was released in 1941, directed by Archie Mayo
and starring Jack Benny
in the principal role.
Poster for the 1930 film
A Broadway musical
by Frank Loesser
and starring Ray Bolger
, ran between 1948 and 1950 at the
St. James Theatre
, was made into a
1952 film (with Bolger repeating his stage role), and began a
successful run in London in 1958.
On March 28, 1957, CBS
television in the U.S.
aired a live production on Playhouse
, starring Art Carney
and Orson Bean
. It was directed by Arthur Penn
A Soviet version was
made for television in 1975, entitled Hello, I'm Your Aunt!.
was also a musical, but had nothing to do with the Broadway
version. The film's title is a Russian figure of
speech, exclaimed when somebody receives shocking news they can
hardly believe (akin to the English
phrase, "Well I'll be a monkey's uncle!").
The film was an
immense hit, and many lines of dialogue subsequently became
Danish version was a 1959 theatrical movie release
starring notable comedy actor Dirch
Passer in the principal role.
Other notable Danish
actors in the production were Ove
, Ghita Nørby
. In the film, Passer sings the
song "Det er svært at være en kvinde nu til dags
(English: "It is hard to be a woman nowadays"). Passer premiered
his role in Charley's Tante
in 1958 at the ABC Theatre where it was a gigantic hit, and played
for 1½ years.
story also proved to be popular in Germany, with at
least 4 different versions being released in 1934, 1956 (starring
the immensely popular Heinz
Ruehmann), 1963 (this one from Austria and starring
Peter Alexander) and a television
version in 1976.
In Spain, there's a well known version starring famous Spanish
comedian Paco Martínez Soria. Filmed in 1981 titled La Tía de
Wykeham and Jack Chesney, undergraduates at Oxford
University, need a chaperon so they
can entertain Amy Spettigue and Kitty Verdun, the niece and ward of Stephen
Spettigue, an Oxford solicitor. When Charley receives word from his
guardian that his aunt, Donna Lucia d’Alvadorez, a rich widow from
Brazil ("where the
nuts come from") whom he has never met,
is coming to visit him, they invite Amy & Kitty to lunch to
But when the aunt's visit is delayed they persuade
their friend Lord Fancourt Babberly to impersonate her.
Charley and Jack intend to declare their love to their sweethearts
so, wanting Lord Fancourt out of the way, they invite Jack's father
as well. But to their exasperation Lord Fancourt is less interested
in Jack's father than flirting with the girls. Then the real aunt
(not the dotty dowager imagined by Lord Fancourt but an attractive
woman of middle age) arrives with her adopted 'niece' Miss Ela Delahay
, an orphan. It emerges that Ela's
father, who had died a little while before, won at cards enough
money to "make her independent for life".
The man from whom he won the money was Lord Babberly. Ela
recollects the short romance that the two of them had, then Donna
Lucia recollects a romance she had 20 years ago with Francis
Chesney, Jack's father, who has just been wooing the fake Donna
Lucia and does not recognise the real one.
Stephen Spettigue enters: he is introduced to the fake Dona Lucia,
the "millionaire", and falls for her so that Lord Babberly, trying
to get letters of consent from Spettigue for the boys' marriages,
ends up receiving a written proposal of marriage from Spettigue.
Charley is forced to confess to the enraged Spettigue who demands
the letter back. The real Donna Lucia reveals herself and takes the
letter, stating that it "is addressed to and has been delivered to
Donna Lucia d’Alvadorez".
Spettigue storms off saying he'll dispute it and Amy, his niece, is
upset at everyone for making a fool of him. Donna Lucia reassures
her and gives the girls all the letters. In the end Sir Francis
& Donna Lucia are engaged, Jack is with Kitty, and Charley with
Amy and Ela ends up with Lord Fancourt.
- Colonel Sir Francis Chesney - Father of Jack Chesney
- Stephen Spettigue - Uncle of Amy Spettigue and guardian of
Kitty Verdun, villain in the story
- Jack Chesney - Oxford undergraduate in love with Kitty
- Charles Wykeham - Oxford undergraduate in love with Amy
- Lord Fancourt Babberley - Undergraduate pulled unwillingly into
Jack and Charley's scheme.
- Brassett - Jack Chesney's Valet
- Donna Lucia d'Alvadorez - Charley's actual aunt from Brazil
("where the nuts come from")
- Kitty Verdun - young woman, ward of Stephen Spettigue
- Amy Spettigue - young woman, niece of Stephen Spettigue
- Ela Delahay - young orphaned woman accompanying Donna Lucia
(loved by Lord Fancourt Babberley)
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