AUSTRALIAN TOUR – 1948

While most Australian critics agreed that their concerts were well-received and every auditorium was filled to capacity with delighted audiences, they felt that the lighter show music was more suitable to their light voices than the operatic excerpts and solos.

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Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth were received in Australia with just as much enthusiasm as in New Zealand. Clarence Black, the Australian pianist from Adelaide remained their accompanist for the tour in Australia. They were guests of honour at countless civic and mayoral receptions throughout the country and Tasmania.  Most of the photos here are taken from contemporary newspapers so are of a poor quality.

While most Australian critics agreed that their concerts were well-received and every auditorium was filled to capacity with delighted audiences, they felt that the lighter show music was more suitable to their light voices than the operatic excerpts and solos.

On 4th August Anne showed some of her wardrobe to the press:

CONCERT OF SHY KISSES, RAPT GAZES – Sydney critic
Love was comprehensively examined in the second programme given by the English singers, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, at the Town Hall on Saturday night. It was a programme of pretty bon-bons, the musical equivalents of pink ribbons and silver paper and St Valentine cards.

     The audience was delighted. One difference between this sort of concert and a concert of serious music is that the audience listening to serious music is always deep in frowns and scowls and anguish of soul. The audience for these singers is all smiles – dreamy smiles, sentimental smiles, bitter-sweet smiles, nostalgic smiles. The singers make love sound as if it is made up entirely of honey and roses.

Mr Booth and Miss Ziegler, in their duets, gazed raptly upon each other, held hands, dated about in conventional operetta poses, and with all sang so sweetly that it seemed inevitable that a pink little Cupid should leap up from the piano and fire silver arrows at them.

ROSE FOR USHER

Miss Ziegler, who looked as pretty as a portrait, even went so far as to present an usher with a red, red rose and to bless his prosaic life with a shy, shy kiss when he brought her the first beautiful bouquet of flowers. Yet he slunk away from this enviable moment of rapture, as though unaware of a moment in paradise.

     The voices are not outstanding, but they are better than most that have been heard in Australian musical comedy and operetta for some years. The singers know how to control the sweet natural tone in a way that will extract the last drop of sentimental unction from it.

Notable illustrations of this were their duets – Stay Frederick, Stay from The Pirate of Penzance, the waggishly comic presentation of The Keys of Heaven and the medley of ballads which included Until, Love’s Old Sweet Song and I Hear You Calling Me.

Clarence Black, their accompanist, played several well-worn solos in the certain knowledge that his choice of items would make his audience sigh with pleasure.”

13 August 1948 – Newcastle

On the 16th August in Newcastle Anne lost her watch valued at £350. They reported the matter to the police but there was a happy outcome to this loss:

Concert in Newcastle City Hall.
Sydney Concert – 16 August 1948.
Reception in Gloucester Room of Australia Hotel, Sydney.

Unfortunately, Anne also lost a valuable diamond ring worth £900 in their suite at Hotel Australia, Sydney. The police were called in and someone sifted through all the bags of the vacuum cleaners, but this ring was never found.  There were several newspaper photographs of Anne and Webster looking (in vain) for this ring.

19th August 1948. Anne and Webster are pictured scouring the floor of their hotel suite trying to find the lost ring. Some of the more unkind reporters suggested that the “lost ring” was a publicity stunt!

20 August 1948. A less favourable Sydney criticism.
7 September 1948 – Brisbane concert and His Majesty’s Theatre.

Anne and Webster go through their music for one of their Australian performances.

Brisbane Hotel flat.
Brisbane 29 August 1948.

2 September 1948 Woolongong
Adelaide concert 16 September 1948
16 September – Hobart concert.

Webster and Anne meet the mayor of Adelaide’s daughter, Barbara McLeay at a civic reception in their honour.

5 October 1948 – Perth.
10 October 1948 Perth

Before they left Australia after their extensive tour of the country, Webster had the last word about the critics in the following cutting:

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Anne and Webster arrived back in the UK on board the Strathaird after seven months away, on their tenth wedding anniversary, 5 November, just in time to do a broadcast on In Town Tonight.

Their film The Laughing Lady opened in Australia shortly after they left the country. Unfortunately, Australian critics were almost universal in their scathing comments about this film. It occurred to me that after being acclaimed and treated like Royalty on their extended tour of New Zealand and Australia in 1948, only ten years later they were living in South Africa in very much reduced circumstances.

Jean Collen©

May 2011. Updated 4 April 2019.

Bibliography: 

Booth, W, Ziegler, A, Duet, Stanley Paul, 1951

Davies, P, List of New Zealand cuttings (1948)

NATIONAL LIBRARY OF AUSTRALIA

New Zealand Newspaper Archive














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