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Everett, Minnie Rebecca (1874–1956)

by Joan Maslen

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

Minnie Rebecca Everett (1874-1956), dancer and producer, was born on 28 June 1874 at Beaufort, Victoria, twelfth (and seventh surviving) child of English-born parents George Everett, bricklayer, and his wife Eliza Ann, née Hardy. After the family moved to Melbourne, Minnie trained under Emilia Pasta, a ballet dancer from Italy. From the age of 13 Everett took casual engagements at the Alexandra Theatre, the Opera House and the Theatre Royal. For a time the dancers were required to complete their performance at the Theatre Royal and be driven by wagonette to the Princess Theatre to appear with Nellie Stewart in the last act of Dorothy.

Having joined J. C. Williamson in 1888, Everett became one of the Royal Ballerinas, a permanent ballet of trained dancers who appeared with his Royal Comic Opera Company. Promoted to soloist, she appeared in December 1893 at the Princess Theatre in the pantomime Little Red Riding Hood. On 28 November 1895 at St Peter's Anglican Church, Melbourne, she married William Walter Rice who played the viola in the orchestra accompanying her performances.

Minnie Everett, as she continued to be professionally known, made her debut as a choreographer in 1897. Henry Bracy presented a revival of Karl Millöcker's The Beggar Student; it included a grand Polish mazurka, staged by Everett, in which she appeared with a troupe of dancers. Next year she created the dances for The Geisha and appeared as première danseuse of the Royal Ballerinas, of which she was made director in 1899. As ballet mistress for thirty years, she created and produced dances for most of J. C. Williamson Ltd's productions.

From the early twentieth century Everett won renown for her work not only as a ballet mistress but as a producer of comic and grand opera. In 1914 'the Firm' sent her to produce pantomime in South Africa; two years later in England she was responsible for High Jinks and was hailed as the first woman producer in London. Back home, her productions of Gilbert and Sullivan were full of sparkle and freshness, and, while traditional, were not rigidly so. She knew every note of the music, the full dialogue and all the stage 'business', and had the ability to turn raw beginners into polished ensembles. Among the stars she worked with were Strella Wilson, Gladys Moncrieff, and Cyril Ritchard and Madge Elliott. With Gustave Slapoffski as her musical director, she was largely responsible for J. C. Williamson's brilliant Gilbert and Sullivan seasons of 1920, 1926-27 and 1931.

For many years Everett ran her own theatrical schools in Melbourne and Sydney where she taught singing, dancing, voice production, deportment and stage technique. She employed many of her pupils in her productions. In the late 1930s she independently produced several pantomimes, using companies of her juveniles. Although she retired in 1940, Everett continued to take a keen interest in amateur theatrics and in 1955 was coaxed into producing The Mikado for the Victorian Council of Adult Education. Survived by her daughter, she died on 7 June 1956 at Prahran and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • V. Tait, A Family of Brothers (Melb, 1971)
  • E. H. Pask, Enter the Colonies, Dancing (Melb, 1979)
  • Theatre (Sydney), 8, no 11, 1 Nov 1910
  • Herald (Melbourne), 12 Jan 1924, 18 Apr 1931, 24 Sept 1949, 8 June 1956
  • Australasian Post, 20 July 1950
  • Age (Melbourne), 8 June 1956
  • theatre programme collection (State Library of Victoria).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Joan Maslen, 'Everett, Minnie Rebecca (1874–1956)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/everett-minnie-rebecca-10135/text17895, published in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 23 October 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

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