Gertrude Lawrence and the Gertrude Lawrence Stage
Gertrude Lawrence (nick-named “G”) was an English actress, singer, dancer and musical performer born on July 4, 1898 in the London borough of Southwark. In August of 1904 Gertrude and her family traveled to the Sussex coast on holiday and they attended a concert where the audience was urged to participate. With her mothers prompting she sang a song and was awarded a gold sovereign. This was her first public performance.
After receiving dance, elocution and the rudiments of acting lessons from Italia Conti, Gertrude went on to perform in Max Reinhardt’s The Miracle; Fifinella directed by Basil Dean; and Gerhart Hauptmann’s Hannele.
In early 1923 Noël Coward developed his first musical revue, London Calling!, specifically for Gertrude. Since that time a year did not pass where she was not entertaining audiences until her death in 1952.
In 1939 the pre-Broadway run of Skylark brought Gertrude to the Cape Playhouse. A year later she married the Playhouse producer Richard Aldrich. While in Dennis, Gertrude was enthusiastically involved in the Cape’s village life, theatrical life and charity. What was inside this mercurial, tireless pro may forever remain a mystery, for she was always the star, whether on stage or participating in Dennis Union Church fundraisers.
But the stage is ephemeral. Other than photographs and her portrait above the entrance door to our theater, it leaves too little record. Great performances remain only in the memories of those who witness them. They are unexplainable, and largely irretrievable. So now, because we do not see her old movies on TV (the screen could never capture her very special connection to the audiences) she is largely forgotten.
Her story was told in our theater on her memorial stage in the play “G” by Natalie Ross Miller in August 2002, and twice more in 2003 and 2005.
Notes taken from Natalie Ross Miller’s 2002 program notes for “G”