Wood's Minstrel Hall
Proprietor / Lessee:
Henry [Wood's Minstrels] Wood
11 September 2010
“There is no better summer entertainment than that provided by our minstrel friends, and no better ventilated hall than that occupied by Wood’s Minstrels. It is at once cool and comfortable and the amusements offered are of a character suited to all tastes and conditions. This hall seems to be a favorite place of resort for the ladies, for they attend here in large numbers, lending an additional beauty to the place, while they bask in the ‘sunshine of man’s approving smile.’ You can laugh at the fun and frivolity of Charley Fox and Nelse Seymour, or you can shed tears of penitence over the pathetic ballads and choruses of Henry, Lockwood, Glenn and Schwicardi; or you can peacefully enjoy the instrumental music which is such a feature with these colored sons of cork. Mr. Henry Wood’s excellent taste and liberal spirit have given us a hall which is an ornament to Broadway, and a troupe of artists that can favorably compare with any organization now in existence… At Wood’s Minstrel Hall, this week, the management inaugurate a new feature in addition to their burnt cork business. A magnificent and, said to be, a very truthful and life-like Panorama of the North River has been painted, and will be unrolled for the first time on the evening of the 29th. There is to be a ‘set’ steamboat, with her paddles and walking beam in motion. A negro regiment is supposed to be on board the steamer and bound on an excursion up the Hudson. The panorama moves, giving a correct representation of all the intermediate points from Newburgh to New York city. The company go up the river and then return by moonlight, landing at Castle Garden. The painting is said to have been executed in the highest style of art. We shall drop in this week and ‘have our see’ for next week’s paper. A grand matinee will be given on the afternoon of July 4th, on which occasion all the company will appear in a choice programme, and the panorama will be exhibited to please the ladies and the rising generation.”
“On the 2d. inst. we visited Wood’s Minstrel Hall to please the eye as well as the ear. On this occasion the manager promised the public a new feature in the Minstrel business, which was a Panoramic view of the North River, from Newburg to Castle Garden. The first and second parts of the evening’s performances being over, wherein we had the pleasure of listening to some really enchanting singing by one of the finest quartettes in the city, and the eccentricities pertaining to negro life as represented by the sable comedians, Nelse Seymour and Charley Fox, the curtain went up, and in the second entrance and extending across the stage was a life-like representation of a steamboat, which was in waiting to take a target company home after an excursion to Newburg. The company then made their appearance in uniform, headed by the redoubtable Seymour as captain, and the rear closed by Mr. Glenn with the target. In the ranks of the ‘Raw Recruits’ we discovered a well known and very popular leading Broadway actor [A.H. “Dolly” Davenport] who, to have a little fun, had for the nonce rubbed off the carmine and ‘rubbed in’ the burnt cork, being ‘his first appearance on any stage as a member of the burnt cork fraternity.’ In the course of the ‘wind up’ and during the ‘walk around’ he distinguished himself by executing a few break down steps which caused him to measure his length on the stage. Despite his disguise, we knew him. The ‘Raw Recruit’ act was then performed and the ‘Company’ jumped on board the steamer for the return trip to New York. The panorama now commences to move and the paddle wheels of the steamer are seen in full motion. Correct representations of all the intermediate points from Newburg to New York are given. Steamers, sloops, market boats (all in motion) pass up and down the river. Scenes on the Hudson, moonlight views, and New York by gas light, all are exceedingly well given. During the moving of the Panorama the scene is heightened by some beautiful singing by the company, several of the songs being very suggestive for the occasion. ‘Down the River’ by the admirable quartette was exceedingly well rendered. ‘Seeing Nelly Home’ by master Wood was very cleverly done. ‘Meet me by Moonlight,’ by Messrs. Henry and Lockwood, and ‘Home Again’ sung when reaching New York were capitally given and received a hearty applause. The scenes are exceedingly well done and are very truthful representations of the many points of interest to be seen up the river. The illumination of the city is very cleverly done and the getting up of the whole affair reflects the highest credit on Mr. Cool White, the stage manager and interlocutor of this establishment—a gentleman who has a life-long experience in the minstrel business and who understands not only what to cater for the public but one who knows how to carry it out in all its details. Mr. Wood is a very enterprising manager, and deserves success for this his latest ‘New Idea.’”
COMMENT: A. H. (Dolly) Davenport, Broadway actor, tries minstrelsy for the first time.