Sixty years ago, Thomas Colven, the stage carpenter of the Theatre Royal, which stood opposite Mulligan’s, gave an interview in which he spoke about the appearance of Judy Garland at the venue.
The interview was given to the Irish Times and published on 30 January 1954.
Colven was 74 at the time. He began his career in 1899. His apprenticeship included stints at Covent Garden and Drury Lane in London, the Wintergarten in Berlin, the Hansa Theatre in Hamburg and the Follies Maraine and Alhambra in Paris.
He said the most challenging task ever put to him was to make an 11 foot metal Christmas tree to seat twenty members of a choir.
His work in the Theatre Royal brought him into contact with some of the greatest performers of the first half of the twentieth century. He had conversed with Caruso, Count John McCormack, Bob Hope, Danny Kaye and Gene Autry for whom he made a special box to hold his huge white cowboy boots.
Colven spoke also of Judy Garland who appeared at the Theatre Royal in the first week of June 1951:
‘She was so nervous that I had to build a special wooden block on the stage to stop her from walking over the foot-lights.”
During her week-long engagement in Dublin, Garland established a strong connection with Mulligan’s which is detailed in Mulligan’s – the grand old pub of Poolbeg Street by Declan Dunne, on sale May 2015.
Find out the close relationship between Judy Garland and Mulligan’s which she forged during her visit to Ireland in June/July 1951
Mulligan’s the grand old pub of Poolbeg Street published by Mercier Press will be on sale in May 2015.
Below are two reviews of Judy Garland performances at the Theatre Royal which stood opposite Mulligan’s.
Around the Theatres
Audience Picked the Songs for Judy
Irish Press – Monday July 2nd, 1951
It was the audience (some four thousand) who chose Judy Garland’s songs for her at the Theatre Royal last night and the dynamic film star obliged with the old film favorites many of the ditties having an Irish tinge.
Simply dressed and taking part in good humoured repartee with the people who had flocked to see her, Miss Garland got down to business, flung off her shoes because her feet hurt and got her fans to sing with her “Nellie Kelly,” “Over the Rainbow,” “Great Day for the Irish” and “Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow.”
To about a dozen encores she sang songs from the radio and films, gay, sentimental and witty, accompanied by an excellent pianist named Buddy Pepper.
Her stage presence is easy and friendly and her come-backs to merry comments won quick and long applause.
She will sing at two more performances each night this week at the Royal.
A good supporting programme was led by Vic and Joe Crastoritan who combined a song-music-and-slapstick variety act in quick tempo. An unusual act was that of Harris and Jarius who played championship badminton on the stage.
Irish support for the Garland show was given by the Royalettes, comedian Harry Bailey, and the orchestra conducted by Jimmy Campbell.
Around the Theatres
Irish Press – Monday July 3rd, 1951
Miss Judy Garland will be the principal attraction for the thousands who will go to the ROYAL this week.
Miss Garland has an easy, courteous and friendly manner. At a press interview during the week she was able to talk to about twenty journalists and twice the number of film trade people for two hours without being bored.
She is friendly and courteous and never refuse to answer a question.
During the Press interviews the girls who work at the Metropole waved to her through the glass swing doors. Judy dropped the Press and film people to “have a chat with the girls.” They say it is a typical gesture.
I have read in the magazine press of Hollywood some intense and rather spiteful spate of gossip about many young actresses, including Judy.
I believe the efforts of the “journalists” there to provide “romantic sensations” from the lives of film people often result in a lot of unhappiness for the subjects of discussion.
Miss Garland told us that this type of journal thrives on this unhappiness. You may note that Dublin is at present flooded with such magazines, and that they form for some young Irish people about 80 percent of their conversation material. They are being paid for, indirectly or otherwise with dollars.
Judy Garland, by the way is one of the many American visitors with an Irish grandmother. Judy’s mother’s name was Milne, daughter of an emigrant from Dublin named Mary Fitzpatrick.
Remember the song she sang in “Nellie Kelly” – “The Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow.” Judy is providing herself with the Irish version – “Cailín Deas Cruidte na mBó” while in Ireland.