Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels

Event Information

Kelly and Leon's Minstrels Hall (720 Broadway)

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
29 June 2018

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

08 Jun 1868, Evening
09 Jun 1868, Evening
10 Jun 1868, Evening
11 Jun 1868, Evening
12 Jun 1868, Evening
13 Jun 1868, Evening
13 Jun 1868, 2:00 PM

Program Details

Music arranged by Prof. Zaulig.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Belle L. N.
Text Author: Leon
Participants:  Kelly and Leon’s Minstrels;  Willie Guy [minstrel] (role: To-Bac-Cus);  William H. Brockway (role: Money-Less);  G. W. Jackson [minstrel tenor];  Francis Leon (role: Helen);  Edwin Kelly (role: Paris);  John F. Oberist (role: A-Killer);  Add Ryman (role: Cal-Chase);  George W. Howard Griffin (role: All-Gammon);  Joe [bones player] Murphy;  George Guy [baritone] (role: Herald);  Mr. [harpist] Blamphin;  Sam S. [Ethiopian comedian] Purdy (role: Arrest-Us);  Mr. [tenor] Naylor


Announcement: New York Herald, 01 June 1868, 4.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 08 June 1868.
Review: New York Herald, 12 June 1868, 7.

“The great event of the week—and we might say of the season—at this establishment is the roaring and enjoyable burlesque entitled ‘La!—Bell—L. N,’ in which Mr. Edwin Kelly made his rentrée before the public on Monday evening last. The reappearance of Mr. Kelly upon the boards called forth from his admirers and friends such an ovation as has rarely been bestowed upon actors of acknowledged merit standing at the head of their profession. As absurd as it may appear for an audience to shower bouquets upon a male disciple of Melpomene or Momna, it is nevertheless true that upon his first appearance on Monday evening Mr. Kelly was literally covered and loaded down with the floral offerings of his friends and the applause which greeted him was so continuous and deafening as to interrupt for a time the acting.  Mr. Kelly certainly ought to feel gratified by having his return before the public endorsed in such an enthusiastic and cordial manner. The new burlesque of ‘La!—Bell-L.N’ is well mounted, the costumes are, as a general thing, excellent and in keeping with the burlesque which it burlesques and the dialogue is sprightly, vivacious and abounds in local hits, and all the popular airs from the original have been preserved. The choruses, however, were rendered in a superior manner to the solos, and were invariably given with good effect. Last evening the singing throughout was good, and received the usual flattering approval in the way of applause from the audience, Mr. Kelly as Paris, and Mr. Leon as Helen, carrying off the honors. There is perceptible in the acting of some of the minor characters a little roughness, which needs toning down, and which will, no doubt, be remedied so soon as the burlesque gets in smooth working order.  This piece has been better placed upon the stage than anything of the kind that has as yet been presented to the public in any minstrel hall in this country. More attention has been given to detail, scenery, music and costumes than has heretofore characterized minstrel performances, and it is certainly encouraging to see and know that minstrelsy is advancing instead of deteriorating. The burlesque, upon the whole, is a decided success, and will, no doubt prove to be the attraction for many weeks to come. Mr. James Blamphin—a recent addition to the ebony troupe—last evening gave a superb performance upon the harp, which called for a well deserved encore, and gave evidence that the performer was master of the instrument. It was, in short, one of the best of this particular kind of performances that we have heard in a minstrel hall for many years.”

Announcement: New York Clipper, 13 June 1868, 78, 2d col., top.

“The original music has been arranged by Prof. Zaulig.”

Advertisement: New York Clipper, 13 June 1868, 79.
Advertisement: New York Clipper, 20 June 1868, 87.
Review: New York Clipper, 20 June 1868, 86, 2d col., bottom.

“’La Bell L. N.’ the latest production in the way of a burlesque at Kelly & Leon’s Minstrel Hall, is decidedly the best thing yet offered by this company.  As a burlesque, it is the best of the two of that opera bouffe of Offenbach’s. It has been written to suit the times and is full of local hits and topics of the present day. The dresses are all very handsome, and strange to say in a minstrel hall burlesque, in perfect keeping with the requirements of the piece. Leon dresses and looks very well as Helen. The initial performance of this burlesque, which was given on the 8th inst., was also the reappearance of Edwin Kelly, as Paris. His reception was one of the most enthusiastic we ever heard, equaling that accorded any great artist on the regular theatrical boards. A great many bouquets were thrown him and the applause was kept up for several minutes. All through his performance he was heartily applauded and at the close of the burlesque called before the curtain, when he made a brief speech, thanking a densely crowded audience for the kind reception awarded him. S. S. Purdy, as Arrest-us, was very good indeed, and sang the music cleverly.  Brockway, as Money-less, was also good as was his make-up. The rest of the characters were well enacted. The choruses were equal to anything of the kind we have ever heard. In addition to the company and the chorus previously engaged there were several chorus boys from the leading choirs of the city, whose soprano voices lent an additional attraction to the piece. ‘La Bell L. N.’ is the best burlesque yet offered by the company, and ought to enjoy a long run, for it is magnificently placed upon the stage as regards scenery and general appointments, and the costumes are very handsome. The company at present engaged here is the largest ever before seen in a minstrel hall in this country. There are nineteen performers besides a pianist in the first part.  Prof. [Zeulig?] is deserving of great praise for the assistance he has afforded in the production of this burlesque. He has collected around him a charming orchestra, and, as has been proved, is capable of mastering the most difficult music of Offenbach, the original of which is given in this piece. Business was great all the past week, the house being crowded every night.”

Announcement: New York Clipper, 20 June 1868, 95.
Review: New York Herald, 25 June 1868, 10.
Review: New York Clipper, 27 June 1868, 94.

(notice that Purdy left the cast)