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Costume Design - Drury Lane Design Collection
  • Drury Lane Design Collection
    Comelli, Attilio, born 1858 - died 1925
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Drury Lane Design Collection

  • Object:

    Costume Design

  • Date:

    1915 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Comelli, Attilio, born 1858 - died 1925 (designer)

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Costume design by Comelli for 'Mr Evans' in a production of Puss in Boots at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, 1915. The comedian and singer Mr Will Evans (1866-1931) played the role of the Grand Duke (husband to the pantomime Dame part, the Grand Duchess of Cerulia). Will Evans was a well known for his Music Hall performances (for which he wrote many of his own songs and sketches) and made frequent appearances in the Drury Lane Christmas Pantomimes.

A production of Puss in Boots first performed at Covent Garden in 1817-1818, but was not a success. In 1832 another version entitled, Puss In Boots: or Harlequin and The Miller's Son was also performed at Covent Garden in which Eliza Povey (who played the role of the Miller's Son) was one of the earliest Principal Boys. These early productions were chiefly Harlequinades rather than the pantomime versions which are more familiar to modern audiences.

Drury Lane first produced Puss In Boots: or Harlequin and the Fairy Of The Golden Palms in 1859, and in 1868 the theatre produced Grimalkin The Great: or Harlequin Puss In Boots and The Miller's Son. They had more success with their sumptuous 1887 production, which as its title (Puss in Boots) suggests followed the 'rags to riches' storyline of the traditional fairytale.

These designs come from a production at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in December of 1915 entitled Puss in Boots, (A fairy tale). The script was written by Geo.R.Sims, Frank Dix and Arthur Collins featured music composed and arranged by J.M.Glover. It starred Miss Renée Meayer as Puss in Boots. All the costumes we 'specially designed and supervised' by Comelli. The production was mounted during World War One when business was understandably poor for the theatre, with the result that the cast were actually asked to accept a half salary for the run. Fortunately the subsequent success of the show meant that it ran from December until Easter and the cast were eventually presented with cheques making up their salary to the full amount.

Comelli (1858-1925) was the house designer of the Royal Opera House from the late 1880s to the early 1920s. During this period he also worked for the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and also designed costumes from a number of Gilbert & Sullivan productions.

This design comes from a collection of costume designs, some of which are costumier's copies, which were originally part of the Archives of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

Physical description

Costume design by Comelli for 'Mr. Evans' in a production of Puss in Boots, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, 1915. A watercolour costume sketch showing a man dressed in deep purple pantaloons and a cutaway jacket. The pantaloons flare out at the thigh and then narrow towards the ankle to expose socks striped in purple and white. The coat fits tightly at the waist and has a lightly purple collar with wide lapels, there is also a large white rose in his buttonhole. Beneath this coat he wears a pale apricot waistcoar with a turquoise band around the collar and a white frilled shirt. In his left hand he holds a shiny top hat and in his right he holds a gold topped cane. The design is signed and dated Comelli, 1915.


1915 (designed)


Comelli, Attilio, born 1858 - died 1925 (designer)

Marks and inscriptions

Mr Evans
Handwritten annotation in ink at the bottom right hand corner of the design

Comelli 1915
Handwritten signature in pen at the left hand side of the design

Handwritten annotation in pencil in the top right hand corner of the design

17 1/2, 42/7, 20, 29 1/2, fa, 17/38 1/2, 38/ 14 1/2, 26/ 42, 30, 37 1/2, 42 1/2
Handwritten annotation in pencil on the rear of the design.


Height: 36.2 cm, Width: 26.2 cm

Descriptive line

Costume design by Attilio Comelli (1858-1925) for Will Evans in the pantomime Puss in Boots at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, 26 December 1915. Drury Lane Design Collection.


Paper; Watercolour on paper; Pen


Painting; Painting


Entertainment & Leisure


Theatre and Performance Collection

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