Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels

Event Information

Kelly and Leon's Minstrels Hall (720 Broadway)

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
10 May 2016

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

01 Oct 1866, 7:00 PM
02 Oct 1866, 7:00 PM
03 Oct 1866, 7:00 PM
04 Oct 1866, 7:00 PM
05 Oct 1866, 7:00 PM
06 Oct 1866, 7:00 PM

Program Details

Performance originally scheduled for evening of September 17, 1866; postponed, however, because of renovations to the venue; see citations.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Vepres; I Vespri siciliani; Sicilian vespers, The
Composer(s): Verdi
Composer(s): Isaacs
Text Author: Million
Composer(s): Thompson
Participants:  Francis Leon
aka Kiss; Kuss, Der
Composer(s): Arditi
Participants:  Francis Leon
aka Clog reel
Participants:  Hank [minstrel] Mudge
aka cow-bell ogeons; cow bell ogeons; Cow-bell-o-gians; cow-bell ogians
aka Comic circus; Circus show


Announcement: New York Herald, 17 September 1866, 5.

“This well known troupe has returned to the metropolis from a starring tour through the country. The manager opens the hall, No. 720 Broadway, this evening, assured that a new stage, new scenery and a fine bill will render it attractive.” 

Advertisement: New York Herald, 17 September 1866, 7.
Advertisement: New York Clipper, 22 September 1866, 191.

A New Minstrel Hall is being put in readiness for Kelly & Leon’s Minstrels, who are to open at 720 Broadway, on the 24th inst. As there is nothing of the kind in that section of the great thoroughfare, a really talented troupe ought to meet with liberal patronage up there. We have not yet received a list of the performers, but we are told that the managers intend to present a strong combination.”

Announcement: New York Clipper, 22 September 1866, 191.

Kelly & Leon’s Minstrels wish the public to understand that they are in no wise connected with a party calling themselves the ‘Associated Artists, formerly with Kelly and Leon.’”

Announcement: New York Clipper, 22 September 1866, 191.

Johnny Allen, of Seaver’s Minstrels, withdraws from that company, as he has been engaged to open with Kelly & Leon’s Minstrels, shortly to open here.”

Announcement: New York Herald, 22 September 1866, 5.

“Kelly & Leons’ [sic] Minstrel Hall, which was to open on Monday next at 720 Broadway, will not open until next Wednesday.”

Announcement: New York Herald, 24 September 1866, 4.

“The opening night of this troupe is postponed to Monday, the 1st of October, the extensive alterations which are being made at the hall, No. 720 Broadway, not being yet completed.”

Announcement: New York Clipper, 29 September 1866, 198.

The Alterations going on at 720 Broadway not being completed, Kelly & Leon’s Minstrels have postponed their opening in the city until Monday evening next, Oct. 1st, when their hall will be thrown open to the public for the first time under the new regime. We are informed that the managers intend to present a first class company. This will be necessary to success on Broadway, and Messrs. Kelly & Leon must not lose sight of this fact.”

Advertisement: New York Clipper, 29 September 1866, 200.
Announcement: New York Herald, 01 October 1866, 5.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 01 October 1866, 7.
Announcement: New-York Times, 01 October 1866, 5.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 01 October 1866, 7.
Review: New York Herald, 02 October 1866, 7.

“Kelly and Leon’s minstrels made their first appearance before a New York audience last night, at No. 720 Broadway (Hope Chapel). During the last three weeks great changes have been made in this place, and it is now one of the prettiest music halls in the country. The gallery, which formerly extended the whole length of the building, has been shortened, and a very fine stage with a frontage of twenty-five feet erected at the rear of the hall. The place has also been newly upholstered, and presents a very comfortable and neat appearance. The programme of the evening was a pleasing one, and well calculated to display the abilities of the members of the company. The opening chorus, a selection from the Sicilian Vespers, was very well sung, and deserved the applause it received. The quartette was also well rendered, the harmony being good and evidently the result of careful practice. Mr. Kelly’s voice and style was shown to good advantage in the ballad ‘Marion Lee,’ and justly entitle him to be classed among the leading balladists of the country. Mr. Leon’s assumption of the role of an opera figurante and his display of agility in the pas were excellent. His ‘Il Bacio,’ sang in falsetto, was a remarkable effort and a very good burlesque on the manner in which that piece of music is sung by some of our leading concert singers. Of the remainder of the programme it is only necessary to say the negro comedies were laughable and the jokes and sallies humorous. The hall was quite crowded and the success of the first appearance of the company is an indisputable fact.”

Announcement: New York Clipper, 06 October 1866, 206.

Messrs. Kelly And Leon – of Minstrel fame – having leased the building long known as Hope Chapel for a term of years, have fitted up the second floor as a Minstrel Hall. It was their original intention to have knocked the floor through and made the two saloons into one, also to have carried it out to the rooms fronting on Broadway, but the present occupants would not vacate until the first of May, which considerably interfered with the plans of Messrs. Kelly and Leon. Consequently they were obliged to do the best they could for the present, and in the Spring, we are told, they will carry out their original intentions. The auditorium of their hall is on the second floor, and is reached by ascending fifteen steps, which are about thirty feet, through a passage way from Broadway. There is the main floor and dress circle. The pews have all been removed, and handsomely stuffed chairs placed in the lower part of the hall. There are three rows of orchestra chairs in front. The gallery, which was formerly square, has been made circular in shape, and richly covered seats put in the place of the pews. A row of gas jets run around the circle, the same as at the French Theatre. The ceiling has been handsomely frescoed, and the auditorium presents a very handsome appearance, everything being new. The stage, which before was only eight feet deep and about 20 feet wide, has been enlarged to a depth of 26 feet. It is 30 feet in the proscenium, and 17 feet 6 inches high. There are four grooves and a back drop; the flats are 21 by 14 feet; the drop curtain is a red baize; the lower part of the auditorium will seat about 400 persons, and the circle about 600; the hall is warmed by heaters, and the ventilation is good; there are two flights of stairs to the circle. The entrance to the hall has been handsomely frescoed, and is illuminated by several rows of gas jets with colored globes. At the top of the stairs leading to the hall is a vestibule, where are hung lithographs of members of the company. Over the main entrance is a large prismatic light, with a star, and the names of Kelly and Leon in bold relief. Taken altogether, the hall has been greatly improved, and nothing but the walls of Old Hope Chapel remain to tell its history. The initial performance is announced to be given this evening. The company consists of E. Kelly, balladist and interlocutor; Leon, burlesque prima donna; Johnny Allen and Frank Moran, end men; T. McNally, first violinist, and others.”

Advertisement: New York Herald, 06 October 1866, 7.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 06 October 1866, 7.
Review: New York Clipper, 13 October 1866, 214.

Kelly and Leon opened their New Minstrel Hall, 750 Broadway, in an unfinished condition, on the 1st inst. to a good but not crowded audience. The first part of the entertainment consists of thirteen performers on the stage, and a pianist in the orchestra. Frank Moran and Johnny Allen keep up the ends, and Edwin Kelly is interlocutor and balladist. The introductory overture and opening chorus were very good. Mr. Jackson sang ‘When the Moon with Glory Brightens,’ which was deservedly encored. This gentleman possesses an excellent voice, and he has the good taste to know how to use it. Mr. Kelly possesses one of the sweetest tenor voices of any one in the business; every word he utters can be distinctly heard. He sang ‘Marion Lee’ with considerable feeling. Mr. John Oberist, one of the best Tyrolean singers we have listened to for some time, gave the ‘Mountain Song’ very well. Frank Moran, who appeared on the bone end, made a big hit; he is, without doubt, one of the most original and witty end-men that blacks up. When he gets hold of a good thing he does not run it into the ground, but is ever on the alert for something fresh. Not one of his gags on the opening night do we remember hearing before, and it is this that helps to make a minstrel show entertainment and an end-man popular. Frank is even funnier in his olio business than while on the end. Johnny Allen, at the other end, is clever in the position, but his style is a little too heavy for a Broadway audience; what gags he told were very good, several of them being new. The great fault of Mr. Allen is that he attempts too much, and is apt to over-do it. He endeavors to imitate, to a certain extent, Dan Bryant, both in singing and acting, but the copy is not equal to the original. His ‘Active Boy’ in the olio was good. Leon appeared in the olio in two acts, first in a burlesque dance, and second in an operetta entitled ‘The Two Doves,’ with Mr. Kelly. His dancing failed to awaken any enthusiasm, although the music was not fast enough for him. In the operetta, in which he was very funny, he caused roars of laughter. Hank Mudge gave a clog dance; if he would cut it a trifle it would be more satisfactory. Frank Moran’s act of the ‘Oxygenated Air’ was very laughable. The ‘Cow-bell-o-gians’ followed, and the entertainment closed with the burlesque circus. Taken altogether, and considering it was a first night, the performance was a satisfactory one, the first part especially being first class. This week George Christy joins the company and takes the tambourine end. ‘The Doctor of All-can-tear-her,’ a burlesque on Julius Eichberg’s physician, will be given.”

Review: New York Clipper, 13 October 1866, 214.

"The leading violinist with Kelly & Leon's Minstrels was not in proper condition to attend to his duties during the entertainment given on Saturday evening last, and should not have been permitted to appear at all. The managers must not let this occur again."