Charley's Aunt

Definition

Theater

  • A farce by Brandon Thomas, first performed in London in 1892at the Royalty Theatre in Soho. It ran for four years and 1466 performanceswith W. S. Penley as the cross-dressing Lord Fancourt Babberley. Manyyears later the play provided the first professional role for the19-year-old Rex Harrison; in 1927 he earned £8 a weekplaying the girl-crazy Jack Chesney in a 16-week touring version.Frank Loesser turned Charley's Aunt into the successful Broadwaymusical Where's Charley?

    The story follows two scheming Oxford undergraduates, JackChesney and Charles Wykeham, in their attempts to lure a pair of girls,Kitty Verdun and Amy Spettigue, into their rooms to meet "Charley'saunt" from Brazil "where the nuts come from". Theaunt, however, is a male friend, Lord Fancourt-Babberly (played ina 1955 production by Frankie Howerd). 'Babbs' enjoys getting closeto the girls but has to dodge the attentions of Amy's uncle Stephen.The action becomes more confused when the real Aunt Donna Lucia suddenlyshows up under an assumed name.

    The phrase still running - like Charley's Auntwas formerly applied to anything or anyone that showed a stubborn longevity.

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