British journalist Kathlyn Hayden describes watching Chaplin burst into song during a break on the set of City Lights:
❝In the flesh there is little of the pathos about Charlie. He is essentially the comedian. For instance, during one of the usual interminable waits while the electricians were charging the lights Charlie ordered the radio turned on. (It seems he always has a loud speaker on the set--to amuse him during the waits.) The stage was suddenly flooded with the glorious voice of Lawrence Tibbett--a gramophone recording of one of his numbers from 'The Rogue Song.'
|Chaplin puts a record on the gramophone.|
Behind him are (L-R): Ralph Barton, Virginia Cherrill, Allan Garcia, & Carlyle Robinson.
At far left in the white coat (partially cut off) might be Granville Redmond.
❝Instantly Charlie sprang to his feet, struck a theatrical posture, and began to sing the song himself. As he imitated Tibbett he was pricelessly funny, capturing all of the grand opera star's mannerisms.1 But that wasn't all. The Chaplin singing voice is wonderful. The little fellow amazed me with his robustness of his middle register. And when Tibbett took the high notes Charlie was with him! Perhaps I am prejudiced, and I don't profess to be a music critic, but so far as I am concerned there is nothing to between Tibbett and Chaplin--as singers.
But of course it would never do for the pathetic little tramp of the funny shoes and bowler to burst into song--in character.2 The Chaplin of the films couldn't do such a thing. Yet if only once he might consent to play a different role, I am sure he could win new laurels--as a singer of the first order.❞
("A Day With Charlie," Picture Show, April 4th, 1931)
Note: I'm not sure if the above photos are from the same performance Ms. Hayden witnessed.
2 Little did they realize in 1931 that Chaplin would "burst into song" in his next film, Modern Times,--and it would be the first time audiences would hear the Tramp's voice.