Courtice Pounds (1862-1927)

Courtice Pounds
(signed postcard, gloss, Rotary Photo, 1195D, c.1911)

Charles Courtice Pounds was born in Pimlico, London on May 30, 1862. When he was eight, he joined the choir at  St. Stephen's Church, Kensington. He then sang in the choir of the Italian Church, Hatton Garden, before studying at the Royal Academy of Music.

He joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in October 1881, as a member of the chorus of Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience, which opened at the Opera Comique before being transferred to the newly built Savoy Theatre. It ran for 578 performances.

In December 1882, at the end of the run, he left the Savoy to perform with a succession of D'Oyly Carte touring companies. With these, he performed not only in the provinces but also in Germany & Austria.

After the enormously successful opening of The Mikado at the Savoy Theatre in London, it was decided to send a second company to present the comic opera in New York. On August 19, 1885, it opened at the Fifth Avenue Theatre with Courtice Pounds playing Nanki-Poo. His performance was much acclaimed. As a result, he spent much of the next couple of years singing in D'Oyly Carte operas presented in New York and Boston. In April, 1887, when the run of Ruddygore ended, he received several offers to stay in New York. He spent the next nine moths at the Casino Theatre appearing in The Marquis and Madelon.

He returned to London in May 1888 and, in July. was offered the opportunity to create the part of Colonel Fairfax in the premiere of The Yeomen of the Guard at the Savoy, He was to stay there until September 1892, playing a string of major roles.

Production Courtice Pounds' role Opening No. of performances The Times review
The Yeoman of the Guard Colonel Fairfax October 3, 1888 423 D'Oyly Carte's new tenor, Courtice Pounds, is a decided acquisition … the possessor of a charming voice and cultivated style … He acts in a spirited and unaffected fashion, which is very rarely found in tenors, and did much for the general success.
The Gondoliers Marco Palmieri December 7, 1889 554 -
The Nautch Girl Indra June 30, 1891 200 Miss Lenore Snyder and Mr. Courtice Pounds impersonate the lovers with much success.
The Vicar of Bray Rev. Henry Sandford January 28, 1892 143 Mr. Courtice Pounds appears to advantage as Sandford.
Haddon Hall John Manners September 24, 1892 204 Dorothy's favoured lover is played, over-sentimentally as usual, by Mr. Courtice Pounds, whose intonation on Saturday night was often faulty.

No doubt upset by the review he had received, Courtice Pounds left the D'Oyly Carte company in October 1892 to appear in musical comedies - Ma Mie Rosette at the Globe and Prince of Wales's from November 1892 to February 1893, La Fille de Madame Angot at the Criterion from July to October 1893, Miami at the Princess's in October 1893, and Wapping Old Stairs at the Vaudeville from February to April 1894.
He then returned again to the Savoy, where he stayed for another year.

Production Courtice Pounds' role Opening No. of performances The Times review
Mirette Picorin July 3, 1894
October 6, 1894
41, 61 Mr. Courtice Pounds has rather an unsympathetic part, but he does what he can with it.
The Chieftain Count Vasquez de Gonzago December 12, 1894 97 Mr. Courtice Pounds, as the Spanish officer, (and) Mr. Scott Fishe, as the real chieftain … are all completely adequate exponents of their parts

In Gilbert & Sullivan operettas

Courtice Pounds Courtice Pounds
Courtice Pounds
as Colonel Fairfax in
The Yeoman of the Guard
Courtice Pounds (left
- as Marco Palmieri)
& Rutland Barrington
(as Giuseppe) in
The Gondoliers (1889)
Click photo to enlarge

Four of Courtice Pounds' sisters - Lily, Louie, Nancy, and Rosy - appeared with D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.


Courtice Pounds
Page from the souvenir
for La Poupée.
Courtice Pounds is
in the centre.
Click photo
to enlarge

After he left the Savoy Theatre for the last time in 1895, Courtice Pounds went to Australia where he appeared in a production of The Yeomen of the Guard that opened at the Lyceum, Sydney, in February 1896. Later that year, he was back in London starring in La at the Prince of Wales's (which ran from Christmas 1897 to September 1898).

In 1901, he played Feste in Herbert Beerbohm Tree's production of Twelfth Night at His Majesty's Theatre. It ran from February 5 until June 1 - a total of 125 performances. Tree played Malvolio and other parts were taken by Maud Jeffries, Lily Brayton and Lionel Brough.

Later in the year, the play was revived at Her Majesty's Theatre for sixteen performances (October 7-19). Shortly afterwards, Courtice Pounds played Touchstone at the Prince's Theatre in Manchester. It was a part that established him as a popular Shakespearean character actor. The following year, he played Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor. (The quality of his work is shown by his being invited to perform Touchstone and other parts in the 1907 Shakespeare Festival presented at His Majesty's Theatre.)
However, he did not restrict himself to Shakespeare. With his excellent tenor voice, his experience and acting abilities, he also performed in the musical theatre. In 1903, he played Papillon in The Duchess of Danzig at the Lyric Theatre. In 1906, he appeared - with his sister, Louie Pounds - in the enormous success, The Belle of Mayfair, at the Strand Theatre. A review in The Daily Graphic of December 24, 1906, describes a Harlequinade scene in the musical comedy:

The stage ... grows dark, and Miss Louie Pounds then enters as a charming fairy Queen. In a trice she introduces the whole Christmas crowd. The scene changes to the regulation street with a butcher's shop contiguous to a milliner's, and the fun becomes uproarious. One and all enter into the spirit of the thing, as though they had played naught but pantomime all their lives. Miss Burke is a very pretty columbine, Mr. Arthur Williams is a delightful clown, and Mr. Sam Walsh a perfect pantaloon. They steal sausages with all the old zest and tremble before the majesty of the law in the person of Mr. Courtice Pounds, who is a beautifully portentous policeman.

Courtice Pounds
Courtice Pounds, 1890
Click photo
to enlarge

Courtice Pounds continued to be a much loved performer in musical plays until shortly before his death. His important roles included Ali Baba in Oscar Asche's Chu Chin Chow, a part he played for the whole five-year run from 1916 to 1921. It was, however, towards the end of his career that he achieved what was probably his greatest success - playing, in 1922, the lead part of Franz Schubert in Lilac Time, the play about the composer's life with his music. It ran for an astonishing 628 performances.

Courtice Pounds died, at the age of 65, in Surbiton, London, on December 20, 1927.

You may also be interested in these associated sites:

The Camerino Players

Medieval Drama Links

Bibliography of Cornish Medieval Drama

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