Uncovering the history of Black practitioners in British musical theatre 1900-1950

This project provides supporting material and information for individual practitioners and practices – with the aim of producing biographies on many of the key figures initially in this early period. You can browse by category or find individual stories.

Latest Posts

Nicholas Brothers in the UK (1947 tour)

This map was produced for a talk with the British Library – as we tried to negotiate the problems with a ‘flat dataset’ (i.e. a google sheets list) being turned into something that visually represented the story of a theatrical tour.

Johnny Nit

(b. 1914, fl. 1920-1936, d. 1951?) Dancer and choreographer, Johnny Nit performed on Broadway and in Harlem in How Come (1923), a show which also featured Alberta Hunter, and in Dixie to Broadway (1924-5). He was frequently billed as ‘the world’s greatest tap dancer’, and his reviews suggest no one was disappointed at the moniker.…

Madeline Rossiter Millar (known as Madeline Rossiter)

(b. Sept 12, 1886, Ealing – d.1964, Scarborough) Join us as we return from our summer break to continue with the biographies – this time – the extraordinary Black British composer and performer, Madeline Rossiter. A contralto singer, performer, male impersonator, tap dancer, dance teacher, choreographer, multi-instrumentalist, theatre director and comedian, as well as a…

Connie Smith

Cornelia Estelle Johnson (b. 29 April 1875, New York – d. 1970, London ) Connie Smith was born in the US in 1875, and lived the majority of her life in the UK after her arrival in 1894. With her partner Augustus ‘Gus’ Smith (who became her husband), she performed touring British theatre as a…


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