Page from The Gaiety Girls' souvenir programme

Page from The Gaiety Girls' souvenir programme

The 1894 production of The Shop Girl started a catchphrase. There had always been girls in the shows at the Gaiety Theatre, but the plot of this musical needed lots of them. New names such as Constance Collier and Fannie Ward (who would both go on to be famous) joined current favourites Violet Monckton and Topsy Sinden. The grand total came to more than 15 beautiful young actresses in the cast. You can see many of them in the pages of the souvenir programme here. It's no surprise that they caught the eye of fashionable London. There had been a successful musical at the Prince of Wales' Theatre the year before called A Gaiety Girl. As The Shop Girl was at the Gaiety, it was a short step to all of London talking about The Gaiety Girls. The Shop Girl ran for 546 performances into 1895, when this souvenir programme was produced.