Actor Edward Askew Sothern, who was known as Douglas Stewart in the early part of his career and possibly went by the initials E.A. Sothern in his later years, moved in theatrical circles like many of the Pfaffians, including playwright John Brougham, actress Adah Menken, and theater critic William Winter. Sothern was part of the troupe that theater historian George Odell describes as Laura Keene’s best company. In addition to working with Keene, he also appeared at Barnum’s and at Wallack’s during the 1854-55 season. Shortly afterwards he began to appear as “Sothern” for the first time, credited as the former Mr. Stewart at Wallack’s in the 1856-57 season. His memorable roles include Lord Dundreary in Our American Cousin (Odell 6:359, 530). This role became his "stepping stone to fortune" (7:129). These performances earned him a place among the most popular actors of the day including Edwin Booth and Joseph Jefferson, both of whom were admired by theater critic William Winter.
Sothern maintained connections with Jefferson and Laura Keene during the 1850s. He made his first appearance at Keene’s in a benefit for Jefferson in the 1857-58 season, and he is listed as the manager of Keene’s theater. The addition of Sothern to Keene’s company helped make Our American Cousin a success in the 1858-59 season. The play was a turning point in both his and Jefferson’s careers and would later become famous as the play Abraham Lincoln was watching when he was assassinated.
Though he was not among Keene’s company in the 1859-60 season, Sothern’s connections with Pfaff’s playwright Charles Gayler enabled him to appear in Gayler’s sequel to Our American Cousin, entitled Our American Cousin at Home, or, Lord Dundreary Abroad. This dramatic work was a mix of "fun and melodrama" and included Dundreary falling into a well, a panorama of the Hudson from New York City to Albany with effects of sunset, moonlight, and sunrise, the destruction of Asa’s mills, and a grand skating scene with the actors on roller skates. Perhaps inspired by the success of this play, Sothern brought out his own play Suspense for the 1860-61 season on the eve of the Civil War (7:319-20).
Of his performance in Our American Cousin Dodo writes that Sothern's performance as Lord Dundreary "was, perhaps, all that the author intended" (2).[pages:2]
English dissociates himself from Sothern, mentioned as one of English's "associates" at Pfaff's in "Our New York."[pages:202]
Mentions Sothern as one of the actors Eytinge met at Bulfinch Place in Boston (60). She refers to this place as "the actors' Mecca" (57) and says that at supper "there was talk, — that sort of talk where every one who talked had something to say, a condition to which there are unfortunately many exceptions" (60).[pages:60(ill.)]
Figaro reports that Mr. Anderson's interpretation of Dundreary is a nearly perfect imitation of Sothern's (153).[pages:153]
Figaro reports that Mr. Andrews is the only actor who has been able to approximate Sothern's success in the role of "Dundreary" in Our American Cousin (137).[pages:137]
Odell mentions that Sothern played a role originally intended for Jefferson at the London Haymarket in Home by Roberston. Sothern originated the role abroad, but did not play it in America (561).[pages:561]
Known early in his career (1854-55) as Douglas Stewart. Appeared at Wallack's for the first time in the 1854-55 season. Sothern had previously played at Barnum's (359). His wife appeared on stage with him in the early part of career.
Sothern was still acting as "Stewart" at Wallack's in the 1855-1856 season. He appeared as "Sothern" for the first time and was credited as the former Mr. Stewart at Wallack's in the 1856-57 season.
Odell mentions Sothern's future success as Lord Dundreary (530).[pages:359,367, 396,441,530]
Odell mentions that Sothern won much applause in the 1856-57 season for the role of "Armand." He played this role opposite Heron in 1857-58 season.
Sothern was one of the popular actors (including Booth and Jefferson) who firmly fixed their reputation in the 1856-57 and 1857-58 seasons at Wallack's. He made his first appearance at Keene's in a benefit for Jefferson in 1857-58 season. Sothern is listed as the manager of Keene's theater and is often involved in the personality conflicts that seem to have arisen there. Sothern's addition to Keene's company made it possible for Our American Cousin to be a success in the 1858-59 season (39). Keene's 1857-59 company is described as her best ever.
Odell discusses Sothern's versalitily as an actor in addition to the versatility of other members of Keene's company. Sothern seems to have been upset at his casting as Dundreary in Our American Cousin, but that role became his "stepping stone to fortune" (129). The success of Our American Cousin is described as the turning point in his and Jefferson's and Keene's careers.
Sothern was missing from Keene's company at the beginning of 1859-60 season. He later appeared in Gayler's sequel to Our American Cousin entitled Our American Cousin at Home, or, Lord Dundreary Abroad as Lord Dundreary on his travels in America and also as Dundreary's younger brother (319). This play was a mix of "fun and melodrama" and included Dundreary falling in a well, a panorama of the Hudson from NY to Albany with effects of sunset, moonlight, and sunrise, the destruction of Asa's mills, and a grand skating scene with the actors on roller skates. This play seems to have pleased the public in the early days of the Civil War (319-20).
Sothern brought out own his own play, Suspense in the 1860-1861 season.[pages:20,30,38,39, 126,127,128(ill)-129,152,217,319-320]
Sothern is mentioned in the New Orleans True Delta account of the events of a performance of Our American Cousin at the Varieties Theatre (3).[pages:3]
Personne notes that Sothern has been helping to "resuscitate" the Howard Athenaeum in Boston with Mrs. Sinclair-Forest (2).[pages:2]
Personne mentions that Sothern was mentioned among the cast of Keene's production of She Stoops to Conquer as playing the role of "Young Marlow," but he does not recall seeing a "Young Marlow" on the stage (2).[pages:2]
Personne notes that Sother is missing from Laura Keene's "stock-list" for next season (3).[pages:3]
Personne reports that there will be a benefit for Sothern at Laura Keene's Theatre. It will include Our American Cousin (3).[pages:3]
Personne reports that Sothern is suing Keene for "breach of contract" (3).[pages:3]
Quelqu'un reports that Our American Cousin will be performed next at Jefferson's with the original cast. He claims it will be "on the most approved Sothern principles" and is "A Dundreary Prospect!" (3).[pages:3]
Quelqu'un mentions that he has just seen Jefferson and Sothern in the new production of Our American Cousin (3).[pages:3]
Mentioned in reference to the Bohemian Club, which may be a post-Pfaff's group of journalists, even though they are described here as frequenting "Pfaaf's" [sic]. See Thomas Dunn English's "That Club at Pfaaf's [sic]."[pages:64]
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