St. James Theatre

Event Information

St. James Theatre (1870-73)

Proprietor / Lessee:
John E. [actor-manager] McDonough
H. A. Earnshaw

Price: $.75; $1 reserved seat; $.50 familiy circle

Event Type:
Variety / Vaudeville

Record Information


Last Updated:
13 October 2023

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

23 Oct 1871, Evening
24 Oct 1871, Evening
25 Oct 1871, Evening
26 Oct 1871, Evening
27 Oct 1871, Evening
28 Oct 1871, Evening
28 Oct 1871, 2:00 PM

Program Details

Offenbach's operetta translated and adapted by Thomas Whiffen under the title Prima donna of a night.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Prima donna of a night; Prima donna for a night
Composer(s): Offenbach


Announcement: New York Clipper, 14 October 1871, 222.

The theatre formerly occupied by Newcomb & Arlington’s Minstrels is to reopen on October 23 as the St. James Theatre.

Advertisement: New York Herald, 15 October 1871, 13.

"A first class vaudeville theatre."

Advertisement: New-York Times, 22 October 1871, 7.
Review: New York Herald, 24 October 1871, 3.

“The musical mania seems to have touched almost every class and division of the metropolitan population. Nothing but melody is in the air. The springing notes of Wachtel are resounding in every part of the city, and the delightful cadences of Parepa are yet tingling in the ears of the amusement-loving public. To add to the harmony vibrating in the atmosphere another songstress of considerable repute made her debut last night at this pretty little theatre. Her singing was so unlike anything at present before the public that she crept at once into the good graces of the audience, and is certain to keep her position there. The part Miss Galton selected for her entrée is one well calculated to show her most prominent and winning features. It is replete with exquisite music and affords fine opportunities for acting. She was admirably supported by Miss Vernon, Mr. Arnold and the other members of the company, who certainly seemed to vie with each other in their efforts to make the entertainment a success. The vaudeville throughout is full of amusing situations, and although it is a style of performance almost entirely new to New York, we have no hesitation in saying it is one that is certain to become popular. The house under its new names wears an entirely new appearance. The seating accommodation has been enlarged and improved, and the ceiling and walls newly frescoed. There is a rich, warm glow of color now in the place that is a most significant contrast to its former aspect under the rule of negro minstrelsy. The second part of the performance last night was devoted to the ventriloquist eccentricities of Mr. Davies, and a more amusing or varied entertainment we have rarely witnessed. The rapidity of his vocal transitions are wonderful, and to be duly appreciated must be seen. He made the house ring with the peals of laughter he evoked, and we have no hesitation in prophesying for him a brilliant career in America. The house was well filled with a fashionable audience, and Mr. McDonough is likely to meet with that encouragement in New York which his enterprise demands.”

Announcement: New-York Times, 26 October 1871, 5.
Announcement: New York Clipper, 28 October 1871, 238.
Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 28 October 1871, 2.
“Miss Galton is not unknown to local play-goers. She has a frank, kind, bright face; a vivacious temperament inclining to innocent mischief; a graceful and sprightly dramatic method; and well-trained vocal ability. A tinge of artifice, perhaps, mars her singing and her graceful demeanor. One wishes that a performer so pleasing were more simple, and did not so strenuously try to make effects that ought rather to proceed from apparent unconsciousness of all the arts and fascinations employed. Miss Galton appears as Ernestine, the Prima Donna of a Night. The topic illustrated is hackneyed on the stage from continual treatment in many forms. A rich parvenne, receiving guests to whom he has promised a musical entertainment, is disappointed by the non-arrival of certain celebrated singers; whereupon his daughter proposes the substitution of herself, her parent and her enamored swain in place of these recreant warblers. The imposition is practiced; and, by Mrs. Galton, Mr. Alfred Kellener, and Mr. James Arnold, it is practiced in a vigorous and humorous manner, at the St. James Theatre. A burlesque of the affectations of musical artists is the comic element, and this is made very conspicuous. The guests are particularly ludicrous—from a queer resemblance that they have to similar victims in real life. This solemn stagnation of well-bred misery is, in truth, one of the most facetious of spectacles, at any time—filling the mind with all sorts of vagrant desires to explode powder crackers, or turn on a furtive stream from the garden hose. Miss Brevoort’s ‘Crystal Chimes’ are skillfully sounded, and a certain pungent suggestion of repressed fun in the performer herself, gives a flavor to the performance. The Swiss Bell Ringers, by the way, used to charm their listeners with much the same spell, though their performance was abler and more various.”
Review: New York Clipper, 04 November 1871, 246.

“The St. James Theatre, Twenty-eighth street and Broadway, was opened on Monday evening, Oct. 23d, under the management of Messrs. McDonough and Earnshaw, with a light entertainment of a pleasing nature, the performance commencing with Offenbach’s operetta entitled a ‘Prima Donna of a Night,’ in which Miss Susan Galton, as Ernestine, acted and sang with much effect and created a very favorable impression. The other roles were effectively sustained by James Arnold, Alfred Kelleher, O. P. Sweet, J. H. Surridge, J. D. Thompson and Miss Clarice Vernon. After the operetta, Miss Kate Brevoort performed upon the Crystal Chimes—a number of glasses partially filled with water—with the right hand, accompanying herself upon the pianoforte with the left. Her performances were liberally applauded and she was thrice recalled.”