Графични страници
PDF файл

the play of that name. The season closed June 28, with a benefit to Charlotte Barnes, when she appeared in "Octavia Bragaldi," and in the farce, “ Personation," Harrison acting the dual rôle of Lord Henry and M. Laroche. The farce "Sprigs of Laurel” was also acted, with Barnes as Nipperkin.

Edwin Forrest began an engagement and opened the season Aug. 19, 1839, and during his stay." Macbeth,” “Damon and Pythias, “ Virginius," "The Lady of Lyons," and, for the first time in this city, “ Richelieu ” were played. Mr. Powell (his first appearance in America), A. J. Neafie, Mr. Jamison, J. W. Wallack, Jr., Walton, Rogers, Andrews, Lambert, Mitchell, Williams, Bunner, Johns, Stuart, Baldock, Barnett, Miss Thornton, Miss Monier, Mrs. Everard, Mrs. Baldock, Mrs. Sefton, Mrs. Coad, Browne, Mrs. Rogers, and Mrs. Russell were in the company. In “ Macbeth " Forrest was supported by Powell as Duncan; Neafie, Banquo; and Mrs. Wm. Sefton, Lady Macbeth. During the season " Tortesa.” was repeated, and J. W. Wallack personated the hero, this being his first appearance on the stage in many months. Charles Kean was announced to open Sept. 23 as Richard III., but the theatre was destroyed by fire Monday afternoon, Sept. 23, 1839. The blaze was first discovered at 4.30 o'clock, in a private entrance leading under the stage from the main pit entrance, on Leonard Street. The theatre was the joint property of Messrs. Washington, Coster, and Mauran. The fire originated in the gas-room beneath the stage. The gas-man left a lighted candle in there and the gas escaping, and the door being closed, the result was an explosion. James W. Wallack immediately engaged Niblo's Garden, and for a short but unprofitable season gave dramatic performances there, closing Nov. 18. James Browne was engaged, and he opened June i as Rover, in “Wild Oats,” and as Jeremy Diddler; June 3. as Robert Macaire, preceded by Wallack in " Tortesa.” For Blakely's benefit, June 5, the operatic drama, "Rosina," with Mrs. Bailey in the title rôle; the farce “Love Laughs at Locksmiths,” and (first time here) “Othello Travestie” were acted. The New York Brass Band appeared in full uniform. Rossini's “ La Gazza Ladra, or the Maid of Palaiseau," was sung for the first time here, June 6, with this cast:

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

In October a new house was built, and opened Oct. 12, 1840, under Alexander Wilson's management, with the comedietta “ Perfection,” a pas de deux, and an opera founded on Irving's “ Tales of the Alhambra.” Bad times soon brought its first season to a termination, and ended Mr. Wilson's connection with the place. W.

E. Burton became the next manager, and opened April 2, 1841, with “ The Naiad Queen." F. C. Wemyss was stage manager. Charlotte Cushman played the Queen, and commanded the female warriors. The dramatic company was a powerful one, and “The Naiad Queen" was produced in magnificent style. Burton played Schnapps, and Harry Lewis the Spirit. Mrs. Russell

, sister of Mrs. Harry Watkins, made her debut as Fluvia, in “ The Naiad Queen." Mrs. Russell was divorced in 1847. While playing at Burton's Chambers Street Theatre, in 1849, she was married to John Hoey, and retired from the stage for some time. She re-appeared at Wallack's (Broadway and Broome Street) as leading lady, where she continued until the summer of 1865, when she retired to private life. It was this lady who originated the present extravagant style of costuming, her wardrobe being more gorgeous and expensive than that of any actress who had preceded her. She displayed exquisite taste in the selection of her stage apparel, which was composed of the richest material. It may be remarked here that Mrs. Hoey was not compelled, like other actresses, to live on her salary, but had in Mr. John Hoey a rich and extremely liberal husband. Mrs. Hoey was a most excellent actress. Her peculiar forte lay in rendering that class of characters in which the manners of the modern lady of fashion were required. Yet, as the arch and wayward Beatrice, or the intense and melodramatic Pauline, she also gained the highest praise. In comedy she was perfectly at home. Whoever has been fortunate enough to see her in the enchanting character of Rosalind has beheld a portrayal which, for delicacy, sensibility, and grace, never, perhaps, had its equal. On April 29 F. C. Wemyss appeared as Belmour in “ Is He Jealous ?” with Charlotte Cushman as Harriet, and Eliza Petrie as Rose. “The Naiad Queen” was withdrawn May 22, in the height of its success, for the purpose of giving “Othello," with J. B. Booth and Miss Clarendon, in the cast. Wilson played Othello; Booth, lago; Charlotte Cushman, Emilia; and Shaw, Cassio. Scott did not appear as Othello, owing to an “indisposition.” At the close of Booth's engagement " The Naiad Queen " was repeated, and continued until “ Semiramis, the Daughter of Air," was done, May 24. This was an alteration of a play by Burton. Isherwood painted several scenes. Charlotte Cushman took the city by surprise in a part which, if it had been written for her peculiar style, could not have suited her better. “Love, Law, and Physic” was the afterpiece.

During the season of 1835-36, John B. Gough appeared here under the name of Gilbert. His stage career was a brief one, for he soon afterwards returned to his first trade of book-binding. He reappeared in 1837 as a low comedian at Providence, R. I., and he afterwards acted at the Old Lion Theatre, Boston. He travelled with a diorama and sang comic songs, and ultimately became famous as a temperance lecturer. He died at Frankford, Pa., Feb. 15, 1887.

Jacob Wonderly Thoman made his first appearance in this city, here, July 18, 1836, as Beauchamp in “ The Somnambulist." In the company were Josephine and Elizabeth Anderson. The latter was an aunt of Effie Germon and a granddaughter of the grandfather of the present Joseph Jefferson. The next year she became the wife of Mr. Thoman. He was at Mitchell's Olympic Theatre one season. His wife was divorced from him in San Francisco, Cal., and became the wife of Charles Saunders. In July, 1858, Mr. Thoman married Mrs. J. G. Pearson, formerly Julia Pelby, the daughter of William Pelby, an old Boston manager, and Rosalie Pelby, formerly Rosalie French, and afterwards Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Wm. Pelby. Her mother originally acted under the name of Miss Mortimer. Thoman's second wife (Miss Pelby) died at Malden, Mass., Dec. 8, 1866, from the effects of an overdose of laudanum, taken to ease the pain occasioned by a fall. In 1868 Thoman was married to Margaret Shales. He died at the Forrest Home, Jan. 29, 1886. Previous to his death he expressed the wish that his body be cremated, and the body was taken to Lancaster, Pa., for that purpose. His ashes were removed and interred in the Forrest Home's lot in North Cedar Hill Cemetery. His last appearance in this city was at Niblo's Garden in 1874, as the Lone Fisherman in "Evangeline." He was an inmate of the Forrest Home for seven years.

Joseph Jefferson, our present living representative of “Rip Van Winkle,” made his first appearance on the stage at this theatre when only eight years of age (Sept. 30, 1837), in a sword combat with Master Titus, and personated a pirate. This was not actually the first time Mr. Jefferson had faced the footlights, for at four years of age he was brought upon the stage by T. D. Rice, at the old Washington Theatre, for that gentleman's benefit. He introduced the "kid," blackened and arrayed precisely like himself, into his performance of “ Jim Crow," and little Joe was carried upon the scene in a bag by the shambling Ethiopian actor and emptied from it, with the appropriate couplet:

“ Ladies and gentlemen, I'd have you for to know,

I’se got a little darkey here to jump Jim Crow.” Mr. Jefferson first appeared in London, Eng., as Rip, Sept. 4, 1865, at the Adelphi Theatre. The first stage representation of " Rip Van Winkle” took place during the summer of 1828, at Cincinnati, O., and Charles B. Parsons (afterwards the Rev. Mr. Parsons) was the Rip. The drama was founded on Washington Irving's story. A dramatization of it was produced at the Queen's Theatre, London, Eng., during the season of 1828–29. Mr. Gates was the

[ocr errors]

Rip, and an actor named Carr was the author of the version. James H. Hackett was the next Rip, and his was an admirable performance, for he possessed a perfect Dutch dialect. Hackett first played it April 30, 1830, at the Park Theatre, this city. Joseph Jefferson, Sr., was the next representative of the character. Charles Burke essayed the character, and with much success; yet he gave quite a different view of it from that of Mr. Hackett's drawing. Joseph Jefferson, Jr., followed and combined all the different versions ; but, being dissatisfied with the drama, he engaged Dion Boucicault to rewrite it, and the result is the drama familiar to the public of to-day.

At the matinée performance July 4, 1836, “ Mob, the Outlaw" (a sequel to “The Golden Farmer"), was produced, as was " The Snow Storm.” In the evening “Damon and Pythias," with David Ingersoll as Damon, William Sefton as Pythias, Geo. Goodenow as Dionysius, and Master William H. Hough as Lucullus, was given.

An attempt was made to destroy this theatre by fire, May 28, 1841. It was discovered about six o'clock in the evening. Fire was found in eight different places, and under such circumstances as to leave no doubt that the whole was a wicked attempt to destroy this beautiful edifice. A second and successful attempt was made May 29, 1841. At the close of the performance of May 28 Mr. Burton, with Mr. Wemyss and Russell remained on the premises until about half-past three A.m., and made a thorough search through every part of the house, and it appeared perfectly safe. Mr. Russell then retired to his room in the theatre, and went to bed. He rose after six o'clock, went to the stage door in the rear of the building, and stood in conversation with the private watchman of the establishment. While thus occupied, something was seen to fall from one of the upper rooms, and in a very few moments flames were issued from several different parts of the building. The alarm was instantly given, but so rapid was the progress of the fire that it was with difficulty Mr. Russell rescued his wife. The whole building was destroyed in less than one hour, except part of the front wall and the side wall on Leonard Street. Mr. Burton was a severe sufferer by this calamity. All his private wardrobe had been brought here from Philadelphia only two days before. He also lost all the dresses and scenery made for "The Naiad Queen" and "Semiramis," besides other valuable property in the shape of books, MSS., music, etc. Many of the performers were severe losers, particularly Miss Cushman, who lost a large part of her valuable wardrobe.


[ocr errors]

HE playhouse known as the Franklin Theatre was located at

175 Chatham Street, between James and Oliver streets. It was a little box of a place, only twenty-five feet wide, and had a seating capacity of five hundred and fifty. It opened under the management of William Dinneford, with "The School of Reform" and "The Unfinished Gentleman," Sept. 7, 1835. The company consisted of W. Sefton, stage manager; Russell, musical director; Huntley, prompter; Jefferson, scenic artist; P. C. Palmer, treasurer; John Sefton, J. Mills Brown, Thoman, Senior, Goodenow, Manley, McDonald, Carne, Parker, Gilbert, Kirkland, Anderson, A. J. Phillips, Williams, Burke, Madden, Kent, Parkinson, Everard, Mrs. Duff, Blake, Kent, Alexina Fisher, Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson, Mr. and Mrs. J. Stickney, Mr. and Mrs. Lewellen, Amelia Verity, Mary Gannon, and Misses E. and J. Anderson. Oct. 5, 1835, “ The Golden Farmer" was produced. John Sefton appeared as Jemmy Twitcher, and made an instantaneous success, and for the rest of his life was known as the Jemmy Twitcher of the stage. Mrs. Duff acted Elizabeth, and in that character and at this house made her last appearance on the New York stage. She retired and took up her residence in New Orleans, and in 1850 became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Mrs. Mary Duff was called the Siddons of the American stage. She was among those“ bright particular" stars which decked the dramatic firmament from the year 1810 up to 1835. What had become of this lady after her marriage with J. G. Sevier, of New Orleans, La., and retirement from the stage, was shrouded in mystery for a long time. It was reported that she died in Baltimore shortly after her return from New Orleans. Again it was stated that she had died in New York in 1866. It was also stated that she died in Philadelphia in 1857. Another story was that she died in New York, Aug. 31, 1857. On the books in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, her death is recorded as occurring Sept. 5, 1857, her burial Sept. 6, her name given as Mary Sevier, and her place of death as No. 36 West Ninth Street, New York. This is incontrovertible evidence. Her remains were taken to Greenwood Cemetery, and reposed for nine months in the receiving vault. April 15, 1858, they, together with one of her relatives, were interred in grave No. 805, in Greenwood, lot 8,999. The certificate reads: “Matilda J. Rillieux & Co.” The “ & Co." was Mary Sevier (Duff). The tombstone now bears the simple inscription : "Mother and Grandmother." It was this “ Sevier" that baffled search for so long a time. In her prime she possessed beauty of a most remarkable character, and a voice which, for plaintive tenderness and thrilling expression I have never known equalled. As a tragic actress she had been equalled on the American stage only by Mrs. Merry and Fanny Kemble, and in some characters she surpassed them both. Mrs. Duff was not born in Dublin, as all writers on stage matters have stated for many years. She was Mary Ann Dyke, the poet Thomas Moore's first love. She rejected him and married John

« ПредишнаНапред »