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The Woman Behind the Man 

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by and featuring


      An entertaining and dynamic one-woman cabaret-style entertainment with authentic songs based on the life of the legendary male impersonator, Ella Shields.(b., Baltimore, MD, 1879-1952).  Miss Shields’ extraordinary performing career spans over 50 years from her debut in 1898, the Victorian era, thru WWI & WWII.  Ella was hailed on many a continent for her talents and was a “star attraction” in both vaudeville and British Music Hall.  Miss Shields opened the London Palladium in 1910 and featured in America on the Keith-Albee circuit in vaudeville theatres in her native country, including in her hometown of Baltimore, Maryland in 1947 at the recently refurbished 1914 historic Hippodrome.   Her signature song, Burlington Bertie from Bow,  (1915) is still being sung today.  Miss Shields is the likely role model for “Victor” in Victor/Victoria since Julie Andrews adored Miss Shields and both appeared on the same bill for a Royal Command Performance in 1948 with Danny Kaye topping the bill.  Ella enjoyed a spectacular success late in her career in Thanks for the Memory ( a three year smash hit) with other British Music Hall legends and was honored as the “First Great Grandmother of British Music Hall”. 

Ella Shields: The Woman Behind the Man has been performed at such venues as the Victorian Festival in Cape May, NJ, Queen Mary 2, International Museum Theatre Conference  in London, Senior Theatre League of America Conference in Las Vegas, NV,  Johns Hopkins University, Walters Art Museum, Washington College, Goucher College, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Creative Alliance and other venues including Baltimore Living History Theatre Series at the Garrett-Jacobs Mansion in 2007. (view  2006-2007 Programs)   (2005-2006) (2008) (2009) (2010)

Note:  Harriet Lynn in summer 2006 was one of nine other women invited from across the country to learn the “Chautauqua way” bringing her “Ella Shields” show to participate as a member of the inaugural training class of the Woman Chautauqua Institute (WCI) at Cottey College, a two-year, liberal arts, women’s college, in Nevada, Missouri. WCI received support from the Missouri Humanities Council and National Endowment for the the Humanities for this program. 

“Harriet Lynn’s performance as Ella Shields is energetic, entertaining and educational.

I recommend it”.

Larry Gard, Artistic Director, Carpenter Science Theatre Company

Former President, International Museum Theatre Alliance

“The presentation was entertaining…dynamic and thought provoking…

A wonderful way to tell a story”.

         Lynn Ashton, Educational Director, Guernsey Museum, U.K.

“… such style and verve”!

David Mosley, Platform 4 Theatre National Railway Museum, York, UK

Contact for bookings and further information 


116 W. University Parkway    Penthouse 3

Baltimore, MD 21210     USA

Ph/fax:  410-235-4457   cp:  443-630-5312  hlynn@umbc.edu     www.h-tac.com

Harriet Lynn as Ella Shields featured in National Directory of Chautauqua Performers 2010

Harriet Lynn as
Ella Shields

photo credit:
Paul Hayward

Ella Shields Performances/

Ella Shields

Ella Shields