previous next

The "Late Unfortunate" Theatre.

--Our readers are already aware that the Theatre was burned to the ground on New Year's night. Its predecessor, which stood where the Monumental Church now stands, was burnt also, with great loss of life, on the night of the 26th December, 1811, fifty years and one week ago.

We looked into Mr. Mordecai's book to find out when the late Theatre was built, but there is no record of it there. Our impression is that it was completed, at least, in the year 1818, and that it was opened during the winter of '18-'19 for the first time. The first play we ever saw was in that house, in November, 1820. We recollect to this hour the effect it produced upon us, and we are simple enough to regret that we are no longer capable of feeling as we then felt. The play was Virginius. The principal character was sustained by Finn, whether the afterwards famous comedian and punster, who was lost at sea, we do not know. Mrs. Waring--one of the Placides — now Mrs. W. R. Blake, played Virginia, and an actor named Nichols played Icilius. It is difficult for us to realize, at this distance of time, the emotions of that evening. To us the Theatre was a gorgeous palace, the scenery superhuman, its movements the effect of magic. The actors were the grandest characters whom it was possible to conceive, and the actresses the most beautiful creatures on earth. The farce was ‘"High Life Below Stairs,"’ and Hilson played the part of the master who has been cheated by his servants, and disguises himself as a country boy seeking service, in order to detect them. Harry Placide was in the piece, and several other actors who have since been widely known.--To us the whole was a reality. We believe we half exhausted our power of laughing that night; for we never have been able to laugh as we did then, from that time to this. We roared, we shouted, we screamed, we fairly danced in the box, until we attracted the attention of everybody in the house. We leant over, as though we were ready to jump into the pit. Gilbert was manager at that time, and we believe he opened the house.--There was no such thing as starring then, and when a manager got a good company it generally staid with him for a considerable time. Gilbert had an excellent company, as may be judged from the names we have already recorded. In 1821, Booth came over and played in that theatre the first time he ever played in any theatre in America.

‘"Old Diary"’ has undergone many vicissitudes since that time. It has had many managers, and we are afraid few of them made money. Some of the best players and the best vocalists ever known in the world have played and sung upon its boards. Its history might be made very interesting; but it is gone, and we look back with melancholy pleasure to the many agreeable associations of former days with which it is connected.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Gilbert (2)
Waring (1)
Virginius (1)
Harry Placide (1)
Nichols (1)
Mordecai (1)
Icilius (1)
Hilson (1)
Finn (1)
Booth (1)
W. R. Blake (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1821 AD (1)
November, 1820 AD (1)
1818 AD (1)
December 26th, 1811 AD (1)
January 1st (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: