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Annals of the New York Stage: Volume VI (1850-1857)

Odell, George Clinton. Annals of the New York Stage: Volume VI (1850-1857). New York: Columbia University Press, 1931.

This multi-volume history of the New York City theater provides a wealth of information about the actors, actresses, and playwrights who were associated with Pfaff's.

People Mentioned in this Work

Booth, Edwin [pages:34(ill.)-35,36,40, 43,102, 145,526-528,578;]

His first New York appearance noted in the Herald as Sept. 27, 1849. Booth seems to have made a great impression on the New York stage.

Booth often acted with his father and other family members and memorably subsituted for his father at the last minute for a benefit performance of Richard III. Though young, he was referred to as "Master" Edwin Booth.

Booth went to California in 1852.

Brougham, John [pages: 8,10,16, 20,48-53,55,56,68,91, 101-102,148-150150 (ill), 151, 153, 164, 190, 194, 214, 226, 242, 243, 272, 295, 359, 390, 396, 431, 435, 441]

The chief writer and "suggester" for Burton 1848-50 (48). Brougham is described as "clever, gifted, jovial, popular."

Odell mentions his Lyceum and his theater. Odell discusses the "splendor" of Brougham's Lyceum at Broadway and Broom Street, which opened December 23, 1850. Brougham had spent the two previous years as the cheif suggestor and writer at Burton's theater and thought he would succeed with his own theater. This theater, which he had inherited from Mitchell(?), passed into other hands within two years and became Wallack's Theatre. Brougham's Lyceum is said to have had lush decorations and Odell claims that Brougham had the best help in preparing the Lyceum. The first performace was given by a troupe of actors called Brougham and Co. Brougham also performed in the show and his wife was also a member of the company.

Odell includes reviews of several of Brougham's performances as well as provides much detail about the shows at the Lyceum. Odell makes mention of "things running low" in December, 1851, when Brougham quits a production of A Christmas Carol. Odell also makes note of the changing of hands of the Lyceum.

Odell also mentions Brougham's performances as a Broadway actor and discusses Brougham's absences from the stage in 1850.

Brougham seems to have, at one point, begun to do shows in the mode of Barnum that produced by Niblo - he is recorded as appearing in a show with Siamese Twins and other features.

The important theaters/producers at this time appear to have been Burton, Wallack, Niblo.

Brougham left Wallack's to manage the failing Bowery in 1856. Odell observes that no one knew why Brougham always starrred in others' theaters and failed in his own.

The Bowery is described as one of the most "democratic" theaters vs. Wallack's aristocratic status. Brougham invited many actors from the Broadway and several with non-traditional methods to join the company at the Bowery. Odell estimates that Brougham gathered his best company ever in 1856.

In 1857, while running the Bowery, Brougham appeared for the first time in seven years at Burton's . At this time, Brougham was also on stage at Wallack's.

Odell discusses Brougham's "feat" of performing in both New York and Philadelphia in one day. It seems that the quality of plays at the Bowery in 1856-57 was decreasing somewhat or was uneven. Brougham's Hippodramatic spectacle was his last show before leaving the Bowery on May 1, 1857.

A benefit for him was held at Niblo's for in 1857 - one of many for "manager-failures."

Additional page numbers: 48-53,55,56,68,91, 101-102,148-150150 (ill), 151, 153, 164, 190, 194, 214, 226, 242, 243, 272, 295, 359, 390, 396, 431, 435, 441 150 (ill), 151, 153, 164, 190, 194, 214, 226, 242, 243, 272, 295, 359, 390, 396, 431, 435, 441, 461-462, 463, 476, 477, 517, 523-524, 536-537, 546-547, 548-549, 554,559, 564-565, 570, 574

Clapp, Henry [pages:69-60]

Odell cites to 1850 theater reviews in The New York Herald written by "Figaro." These reviews range from March to May (New York Public Library file ends May 10).

Clare, Ada [pages:365,446,454,455, 493]

Odell notes that she acted at Wallacks with Laura Keene's company.

Odell also discusses Clare as part of a mostly amateur performance at the Metropolitan Theater in 1855 that was assisted by the Wallack amateurs. Odell also notes that Clare would act during this season on the regular (professional) stage.

Clifton, Ada [pages:452,464-465, 499, 513, 522, 541, 542(ill), 565,56]

Odell includes reviews of Clifton's 1855-1856 performances. She is also listed among the performers at the second Brougham benefit.

Curtis, George [pages:290,420,507]

Odell mentions that the "then hihgly popular Potiphar Papers of George William Curtis" were dramatized and titled Our Best Society at Burton's (290).

Curtis lectured in Brooklyn during the 1854-1855 season at the Brooklyn Institute - the title and subject of his lecture is unknown(420). He also lectured at the Institute during the 1855-1856 season.

Daly, John [pages:26,162,213, 279]

Odell mentions the future successes of his theater and how certain aerly performances are later echoed in Daly's theater. Odell refers to Daly as though his theater is one of the later, but great, institutions by which to measure New York theater/theatrical performances.

de Walden, Thomas [pages:221,315-6,351,357, 358,442,523]
Dodge, Ossian [pages:82,108]

A "Boston vocalist" who appeared at Tripler Hall on April 19, 1851. Odell says he "'gave one of his chaste, unique and fashionable entertainments,'surely a choicely celebrated show'" (82).

Dodge's performance seems to have paled in comparison to some of the other entertainments happening in Brooklyn during the spring of 1851. Dodge is said to have performed the Institute on May 1, and "[gave] the humorous Jenny Lindianna." It appaers, however, that a live animal show was the most attention-drawing show of that evening.

Emerson, Ralph [pages:195,507]

Appeared at the Lyceum at Williamsburgh. Lectured Feb. 19,1852 (the advertisement for this engagement seems to have been a surprise discovery by Odell in the Gazette); the subject of Emerson's talk is unknown (195).

Emerson is also mentioned in a list of lecturers for a special fall and winter series at the Athenaeum during the 1855-56 season (507).

Eytinge, Solomon [pages:424, 518]

(Questionable whether or not this is him.) Mentioned in supporting roles on the stage (if this is him).

Fry, William [pages:276,415]

Odell mentions him as a lecturer and critic. He is also identified as W.H. Fry and mentioned as assisting a musical performance at the Odeon (276).

Odell also mentions Fry's Sabat Mater and that a performance of it was not given.

Gayler, Charles [pages:438,518,544,585-586]

Wrote Taking the Chances, or, Our Cousin From the Country (a comedy) for J.H. McVicker at Burtons. The show opened March 19, 1855. Gayler adapted The Son of the Night from the Porte St. Martin, Paris for the Broadway for a May 4, 1856, performance. Gayler is described as prolific.

Greeley, Horace [pages:109]

Listed as part of the Lyceum lecture series at Williamsburgh during the 1850-51 season (109).

Grey, Ellen [pages:274, 308, 323, 340, 366, 552, 554,555]
Hall, Abraham [pages:528]

Odell mentions that his play, The Coroner's Exhibition (a new farce), was performed at the last benefit of the season (for Mark Smith) on June 1, 1857.

Odell also mentions that Hall will later be the Mayor of New York.

Heron, Matilda [pages:221,281,342, 534(ill), 534-36,538,542,552,578,587]

Odell records her first appearance in New York at the Bowery during the 1852-53 season.

Odell claims that Heron "is the most famous of American Camilles" and that her interpretation of this role influenced other actresses (281). Heron's "Camille" is described as the biggest hit of the 1856-57 season at Wallack's. Odell speculates that "Miss Heron, in her heyday, must have been complete mistress of emotional effects" (534). Odell states that she presented herself in a sensational new version of Camille and that "few things so striking as her acting of the French demi-mondaine had even been seen in New York." Odell also makes the claim that she "was a genius; she made her own rules, or possibly had none, but a more moving performance than her Camille it would have been hard for 1857 to conceive of." Odell also makes note of her appearances at Wallack's in 1856-57 season (534).

Odell reprints sections of Heron's favorable reviews from the Herald and notes the number of encores she had to give. Most of Heron's review in the Tribune is also reproduced.

According to Odell, Heron's fame allowed her to produce her own version of Legouve's Medea,. Her roles during the 1856-57 season were often supported by E.A. Sothern. Odell claims that the roles Heron played that season were hugely successful and that the 1856-57 was one of of the most successful theatrical seasons to date.

Odell also discusses Heron's tempermental nature and her finding success at Wallack's. Odell mentions other actresses playing the role of Camille, but that they were not really a threat to Heron - Camille seems simply to be hugely popular at this time.

Heron also seems to have taken part in a low-ticket cost and amateur benefit in 1856-57 season given by one of the many dramatic associations. Her success made a burlesque of Camille inevitable - The Black Camille, or, the Fate of a Washerwoman.

Jefferson, Joseph [pages:5,34,37,54,57,128,129,240,546]

As an actor, Odell refers to Jefferson as a "bright feature" at the National Theater in 1850-51(34). Jefferson is called an "admirable comedian." He is frequently on stage with Mrs. Jefferson during 1850-51 season. Jefferson left the National during the 1850-51 season when Lafayette Fox (Christopher Strap) came to the theater. Odell simply says that a theater couldn't expect to keep both of them (37).

Odell uses Jefferson as a source and refers to Jefferson's description of the performance of "Sir William Don" on the stage in 1850-51 season (5).

Odell also uses exerpts from Jefferson's Autobiography to discuss his 1851-52 performance of Twelfth Night. According to Jefferson, the revival at Burton's displayed performances that have not been so skillful since Shakespeare first wrote and performed the play. was Burton's first Shakespearean endeavor and was done on a highly elaborate scale (128).

Jefferson returned to the New York stage after an absence of several years in the 1856-57 season, Laura Keene's second season in her new theater(544).

Keene, Laura [pages:209,214 (ill.), 215, 218,271,272,290,298,295, 435, 444 (ill), 445,450- 451,452, 455-456, 519, 534,540-542 (ill), 585]

Appeared in plays at Wallack's where she spent a year or more as the company's lead actress and helped to raise its standards (Odell reprints reviews on p.215).

Odell claims that Keene was "badly adivised" to leave Wallacks in 1854 to take charge of a Baltimore theater. She did not inform the manager of Wallacks that she was leaving before a show. Keene's biographer John Creahan calls this "a self-regarded ill-advised move." After Baltimore, Keene traveled to California and Australia and then took a long absence from a stage.

Odell reports that there was ill-feeling between Keene and Burton because of the lack of written contracts with actors. This falling-out is described as having "ugly results in the spring," and would later lure key actors away from Burton's for Laura Keene's Varieties.

Odell discusses Laura Keene's Varieties in the Metropolitan Theater (Broadway opposite Bond St.) and her problems with the vandalization/destruction of scenery on opening night. Keene had a contribution of $2000 thrown onstage in a basket of flowers after a benefit of her on June 21st 1855 or 1856.

Keene won over the public although she had opposition from other managers in town. She lost her first theater on a "technical quibble": when she leased the thater she took it for 1 year at $400/week with the privilege of a renewal for 4 years from Sept. 1856 if she gave notice on the first of May. Keene did not give notice on that day because she still owed rent. She gave the money to the owners late and was supposed to have had the lease secured, but Burton bought the building and took a lease on the theater himself, causing her to end her season June 21, 1856.

Keene made plans for a new theater, built by John Trimble and located at 622 and 624 Broadway. Laura Keene's Theatre opened Nov. 18, 1856. Odell reprints the description of new theater from the Herald. Keene's new theater was not immediately successful.

Montez, Lola [pages:68, 115-116, 118(ill.), 119-120, 121, 138-139, 191,586]

A benefit was held for her on January 9,1852. Montes' burlesque was performed at the Bowery again in the summer of 1852 both with Lola Montes starring in the lead role and after her departure from the theater.

O'Brien, Fitz-James [pages:218,361-362]

His My Christmas Dinner written "expresly for this theater" opened at Wallack's 12/25/1852. A Gentleman from Ireland played at Wallacks in Dec. 1854. O'Brien also adapted The Sisters from the French for Wallacks for Dec. 27,1854. This play ran until Jan. 13, 1855.

Smith, Mark [pages:132,473,519,523,528]

He is mentioned as the intended the leading man at Burton's new theater during the 1855-56 season (473). Also at Burton's in the 1856-57 season.

Sothern, Edward [pages:359,367, 396,441,530]

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).

Strakosch, Maurice and Max (brothers) [pages:92,265,502,507,575,576,600,601]

(Information here may also be for his brother, Maurice.) Strakosch served as pianist in a concert of Maretzke on Jan. 11, 1851, at Tripler Hall. He seems to have been a figure in the concert scene from 1850-56; his wife also played with him. At the Academy, in late January of 1857 (575), he conducted the opera, subsequently starting a new season of opera that February. He held concerts in Brooklyn in the 1856-57 season and also ran a series of 4 subscription concerts for which advertisments in the Star and the New York Herald stop around Jan 24 - the date of the first concert. Because of this, Odell is unsure whether the shows at the Athenaeum (scheduled for 1/24, 1/31, 2/5, 2/12 $1 admission + $0.50 for reserved seating) ever ran (601).

Taylor, Bayard [pages:86,109, 420,507, 523]

He wrote the words to "Greetings to America" that was composed by Benedict (?) for Jenny Lind's first American appearance on Sept. 11, 1850. Lind sang the song and Taylor received $200 for the lyrics. Odell says that the money was "offered as a prize for the best poem written under these excruciating circumstances"(86).

Taylor was also one of the lecturers at the Lyceum in 1850-51, a series that included Henry Ward Beecher, Horace Greely, Park Benjamin, and E.H. Chapin. Bayard was also a part of the 1854-55 Brooklyn Institute lecture series (420). Taylor was a lecturer at the Athenaeum in the 1855-56 season in a "special fall and winter course" that also included Emerson, J.G. Saxe, E.P. Whipple, Curtis, Beecher, Benjamin, and Oliver Wendell Holmes (507).

Taylor is mentioned as a "play carpenter" in the same manner as Gayler in Odell's discussion of Walden's style of dramatic adaptation (523).

Wallack's Lyceum [pages:48,205,213,286,295,354,359,424,441,446,461,529-30,531]

Founded in 1852 by J.W. Wallack the elder at the former site of Brougham's Lyceum (48). Became a "great institution" for the next 36 years. The founding of the theater managed to destroy Burton's company and theatical prestige - the management and actors in Burton's company moved to Wallack's. Odell describes the founding of Wallack's as one of the most important events in the history of the NY stage.

Wallack's first theater opened Sept. 8, 1852. Odell says that "immediately on getting into a file of Wallack programmes one realises that one has entered a realm where beatuy and elegance almost invariably prevai" (213). The productions at Wallack's were carefully planned and managed and the quality of actors and plays was always high and excellent. Odell claims, "Nothing like Wallack's Theatre, I am convinced, had existed in New York presiously to 1852; nothing quite like it existed after 1880." Odell makes this claim while also recognizing more contemporary respected theaters (213).

The lobby and decorations of Wallack's were elaborate and included frescoes done by Harvest and Youngling (who also did the Metropolitan Hotel and received positive reviews). Lester Wallack (John W. Lester) was listed as stage manager and Charles Wallack, his brother, as treasurer. The listed staff also included fifteen band members. Admission to the parquet and dress circle was $.50, to the family circle $.25, orchestra seats $.75, private boxes $5-7. Performances began at 7:30 (213).

Boucicault's Love in a Maze was staged both at Wallack's and at Burton's on Sept.5, 1853 (286). Wallack's Second season began Sept. 5, 1853, with "a 'theatre re-gilded and re-painted,' new 'cushioned seats covered with crimson cut velvet,' 'handsome mirrors in the boxes,' a 'complete system of ventilation' including a 'large opening at the back of the parqette, a withdrawing room, with a large French window, at the back of the dress-circle, and in the roof above the family circle a large shaft or cupola, 15 by 11 feet, producing a thorough current air through the house'" (295). New prices: $.50 dress-circle or parquette, $.25 for the family circle, $1 stall seats, $6-7 box seats (295). The company remained largely the same in the second season.

Odell mentions that "fashion was revived at this time also at Wallack's" in the 1854-55 season in response to trends in the theater (354). J.H. Stoddart remarks on his first appearance in America during the 1854-55 season that the company of Wallack's "had become, by long association, the finest band of actors concievable. 'I do not think,' says Stoddart,'the old comedies were ever better played'" (359).

W.R. Blake left Wallack's in the 1855-56 season to manage for Marshall (424). Odell calls the company of the 1855-56 season "one of the most glorious companies I have yet recorded in this chronicle" (441). J.W. Wallack seems to have lost managerial control of the theater some time during the 1855-56 season (446). Brougham leaves in 1855-56 to direct the failing Bowery (461).

The Theatre was leased to W. Stuart in the 1856-57 season (Stuart is best remembered for being connected to the Winter Garden later on). In 1856 he "rechristened Wallacks the Summer Garden" and had a decent summer season. No one knows why Wallack temprorarily retired; Odell speculates hard times but also notes that there's some evidence of illness. Lester Wallack remained during this period as stage manager and "leading juvenile." Season marks debut of Sothern under his own name and return of Blake (529-30). J.W. Wallack returned Oct. 20, 1956, with a revival of Hamlet (531).

Wallack, John [pages:8,14,17,18,52,69,122,166,167,205,213,287,295,354,359,361,441,477,523,530,537,563,564]

Early performances are credited to "Lester," specifically, John W. (Wallack) Lester. Lester Wallack was a member of the theater-owning and acting Wallack family.

Odell mentions that the "long popular comedietta, A Morning Call" was one of his mainstays and that the play was first seen at the Broadway on April 25, 1851. Whether Wallack was a member of the cast for this performance is unclear (14).

Wallack was added to Burton's company in 1850-51 season and is described as "undoubtedly the handsomest and most popular leading man on the American stage" (17). Wallack acted at Burton's under Brougham's direction during this season (52). He became a well-known commedian and was also on stage with Jefferson in the 1851-52 season.

Wallack left Burton's for his family's theater in the 1852-53 season. Wallack was lured away from the Burtons with William Rufus Blake, with whom he debuted at Burton's (205). Lester Wallack is listed as the stage manager when Wallack's opened in 1852-53 (213).

He is described as the attractive leading man type. Odell mentions that when J.W. Wallack gave over control of the theater briefly in 1856-57 season, Lester Wallack remained in the stage manager position throughout the season.

Lester Wallack is also credited with the authorship of First Impressions, a comedy that only ran for 4 nights and was never seen again (530). E.A. Sothern co-starred in this show.

Wilkins, Edward (Ned) [pages:455, 541,543]

The first performance of his My Wife's Mirror occured for Laura Keene's benefit on May 10, 1856. His Young New York played at Laura Keene's new theater after the opening production of As You Like It This show began Nov.24, 1856 and ran until Dec.17. Wilkins held a benefit Feb.21, 1857, where My Wife's Mirror and Young New York both played.

Winter, William [pages:140]

Odell notes an error in Winter's notation of Edwin Booth's last performances in 1851-1852.