Fred. W. Zaulig
Variety / Vaudeville
24 March 2019
Opening postponed because of rainstorm damage.
“A New Burlesque Theatre. There are physical epidemics, and there are moral epidemics. Cholera and yellow fever belong to the former class, opera bouffe and burlesques to the latter. They break out in a community in the same unlooked for way, come to a climax and die out and are forgotten. New York is peculiarly sensitive to these affections, especially to the class of moral epidemics. Negro minstrelsy was one of them. There was a time when every alternate place of amusements was of this sooty character. Every one went to them. The young ladies all sang Foster’s negro melodies. ‘Rosalie,’ ‘The Old Folks at Home,’ and “Uncle Ned,’ were the staple articles in the hand-organ line. Happily we have lived through these dark ages. The negro minstrel business has lost its chief ornaments; the singing element has almost entirely disappeared, and the whole thing has degenerated into simple buffoonery, and daily loses in public estimation. In its place came the opera bouffe, and took the town by storm. The natural outgrowth of this has been English burlesque and both managers and public seem to have succumbed to this form of the epidemic, and consider it that tide in their affairs ‘which taken at its flood leads on to fortune.’ Of the many theatres that have been given up to the representation of this phase of the dramatic art, the Waverley is the newest. It is the last candidate in the field, but enters it well equipped. This theatre opened on Wednesday evening at the place formerly occupied by the Kelly & Leon Minstrels, but which has been very greatly improved, so that now it is really a very pretty and cozy little theatre. The managers have had the discretion to perceive that with so many rivals in the field it was useless to produce anything in a second-rate manner, and they have evidently exerted themselves, and to good purpose, to make their theatre in every point as attractive as possible. The company is a very excellent one. Miss Elise Holt, its chief ornament, is especially bright and piquante. ‘Lucrezia Borgia,’ the burlesque with which they have opened, is very sparkling in dialogue, the plays upon words are of unusual excellence, and what is very much to the purpose, the parts are well learned and smoothly spoken. The dismal tragedy is turned quite inside out and made into a first-class farce. One of the peculiarities of this burlesque-business is that is has set everybody to singing. Actors who are not only not on singing acquaintance with a tune, but can hardly recognize one when they meet it going down Broadway with a street band, suddenly find themselves called on to do duty as first-class vocalists. The result is in most instances very melancholy. It is a pleasure, therefore, to be able to say that at the Waverly, the singing is really above the average. To sum the matter up briefly, we may say that in the direction of what is now-a-days considered a good burlesque, this theatre goes as far as any. There are some people who will say that the more perfect a burlesque is, according to this standard, the less they are disposed to like it, and that when the can-can is best it is really worst. For such there is fortunately the legitimate drama to fall back upon. They can go and hear Mr. Buchanan in ‘Hamlet’ or Wallack in ‘Much Ado’ or Booth in ‘Romeo.’ Those, however, who favor burlesque will be pretty certain to favor the Waverley.”
Lists complete casts for above shows. 3rd col., top: The theater was closed Saturday, 02/20, because of damage to the roof.
Around the time of this review, Minnie Jackson has substituted for Elise Holt, who is sick. She has added a song called “Chick, chick”.
A success despite the fact there are already so many theaters in the city. Insufficent means of exit.
The Holt Troupe made their debut on the 18th, instead of the 15th because of the hoarseness of Elise Holt. “She [Holt] has a charming voice, and sings with admirable taste, judiciously blending in her comic songs the parlante with her singing, by which means her humorous points are brought out clearly, and the effect aimed at gained. She is graceful and easy in her manners, and while she understands the art of playing to the audience in her peculiar style, is free from all vulgar confidences, going just far enough without overstepping the mark. She dressed superbly and her performance throughout displayed merit of a high order. The vehicle which served to introduce this lady to us was Byron’s burlesque of ‘Lucretia Borgia,’ decidedly the wittiest affair of the burlesque order presented in this city for some time. It has been localized for this city, and is very laughable, being full of pointed wit, fun and life. It has been placed upon the stage in a careful manner, the costumes being handsome, and the piece effectively cast. Mr. James Lewis, who appeared in this city several years ago at Mrs. John Wood’s Theatre, made quite a hit as Lucretia Borgia, his make-up, acting and singing being very good. . . . Mary Pitt is possessed of a good voice, and sings well. Taken on the whole the burlesque was most satisfactorily rendered. In the last scene Miss Holt appears dressed in [?] attire, in a pair of rich purple velvet pants, white satin coat, vest, and white silk hat, and with a cigar in her mouth and a cane in her hand, presents quite a taking appearance, and sings ‘Up in a Balloon.’”