Category Archives: Nineteenth Century

Today in Theatre History: THE GREAT RICHMOND THEATRE FIRE–December 26, 1811

On this day in theatre history—December 26, 1811—occurred one of the greatest theatre calamities in American history: the infamous Richmond Theatre Fire. At the time, it was the worst urban disaster ever in the U.S., killing 72 in all. The … Continue reading

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Today in Theatre History: JEFFERSON’S RIP ON BROADWAY–December 24, 1860

It was on this very day in theatre history–December 24, 1860–that Joseph Jefferson first performed his famed Rip van Winkle on the New York stage at the Winter Garden Theatre.  And the opening was a rough one.  Critics were tepid … Continue reading

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Today in Theatre History: MRS. IBSEN GIVES BIRTH TO HENRIK–March 20, 1828

On this very day (March 20) in 1828, Marichen Ibsen, wife of wealthy merchant, Knut Ibsen of Skien, Norway, gave birth to a healthy baby boy.  For some reason they decided to name him Henrik and eventually got him involved … Continue reading

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Today in Theatre History: THE FLAMMABLE BEGINNINGS OF CHICAGO THEATRE–February 24, 1834

It was on this very day in theatre history (February 24) that Chicago saw its very first documented theatrical performance back in 1834.  A “Mr. Bowers,” billed as a “professeur de tours amusant,” gave an evening’s performance on an improvised … Continue reading

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Today in Theatre History: “A WELL-REGULATED THEATRE”; OR, THE OPENING OF THE BOWERY–October 22, 1826

With the rise in immigration and industrialization following the Napoleonic wars, New York’s neighborhoods began reaching farther northward and away from the traditional old city at the southern tip of Manhattan.  And as the city expanded, the wealthy found themselves … Continue reading

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Today in Theatre History: NEW YORK’S ACADEMY OF MUSIC, “FRENCH BALLS,” AND THE METROPOLITAN OPERA–October 2, 1854

After the infamous Astor Place Riot in May of 1849, New York was left without a dedicated opera house.  A handful of investors decided to resolve the situation by building the Academy of Music which opened on this day in … Continue reading

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Today in Theatre History: LONDON AUDIENCES RIOT OVER TICKET PRICES–September 18, 1809

In one of the more unusual events in 19th century theatre history, patrons of the newly rebuilt Covent Garden Theatre in London went on an extended riot beginning on this day–September 18–in 1809.  The trouble began the year before when … Continue reading

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