Petroleumania

Event Information

Venue(s):
Wood's Minstrel Hall

Event Type:
Minstrel

Record Information

Status:
Published

Last Updated:
31 July 2012

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

13 Mar 1865, 7:30 PM
14 Mar 1865, 7:30 PM
15 Mar 1865, 7:30 PM
16 Mar 1865, 7:30 PM
17 Mar 1865, 7:30 PM
18 Mar 1865, 7:30 PM

Program Details

Scenery by Gaspard Meader.
Synopsis of Scenery, Incidents, &c.:
SCENE FIRST—WILLIAM ST, MERCHANTS’ EXCHANGE, &c.
SCENE SECOND—A CAVE. PETE’S ANTE CHAMBER.
SCENE THIRD—SWAMP ANGEL CREVICE.
SCENE LAST—PETROLIA.
“HOW DO YOU FLOW?”


Performers and/or Works Performed

2)
aka Petroleum girl
Text Author: Gayler
Participants:  James W. [minstrel] Glenn (role: Job S. Turkey (an unfortunate speculator));  Frank B. Converse (role: Cumb Coal (oil speculator));  H. Schwicardi (role: Mariposa (oil speculator));  C. J . [minstrel] Lockwood (role: Johannes Jerome (Pete’s favorite imp));  S. S. [Ethiopian comedian] Purdy (role: Chic N. West, a heavy dealer in stocks);  Master [clog dancer Sheridan and Mack] Sheridan (role: Petroleum Imp (with Demon dance));  Master [Wood's dancer] Mark (role: Petroleum Imp (with Demon dance));  Frank Brower (role: Pete Trolium, Demon King of the Oil Regions);  Cool [Wood's] White (role: Oleaginous Trap (a Darkey that’s struck Ile));  Charles Henry [minstrel tenor] (role: Mich Central (oil speculator))

Citations

1)
Advertisement: New York Herald, 13 March 1865.

     Ad takes up the entire column, which was very unusual at the time. Cast list.  Includes names of oil fields from that time period, such as Blood Farm and Swamp Angel.

2)
Review: New York Herald, 13 March 1865.

     “The new farce now on the board . . . is an immense success, more than equal to the real operations on Wall Street.  Such a piece is a novelty in Ethiopian minstrelsy. The piece is well got up, the scenic effect being particularly good. The dividends are declared nightly instead of monthly as at the Petroleum Exchange.”

3)
Advertisement: New York Herald, 14 March 1865.

     “Second week of great burlesque, Petroleumania, or Oil on the Brain. M. Lewis, Ethiopian dancer, joins Wood’s this week.  He has recently arrived from California.”

4)
Announcement: New York Clipper, 18 March 1865, 390.

5)
Advertisement: New York Clipper, 18 March 1865, 391.

     [a quote from NYH] “Petroleumania is a splendid combination of Funny and Scenic effects; it abounds in Local and Political Hits. They laugh uproariously at Petroleumania.” “revious to the Burlesque, A GRAND MINSTREL ENTERTAINMENT.”

6)
Review: New York Clipper, 25 March 1865, 398.

     “The New Burlesque, ‘Petroleumania,’ has the merit of attracting unusually large audiences at Wood’s Minstrels, if nothing else; for the house has been crowded every night during the past week. We saw the piece again on Saturday evening last, and have no cause, from what we saw or heard, to change the opinion we expressed in our last concerning its merits and demerits; it is nicely placed upon the stage, the scenery, dresses, etc., being of a better character than we are accustomed to in minstrel shows; but, as a burlesque, it is no more to be compared with ‘Oh, Hush!’ and pieces of that caliber, than a confederate bond is to a 7:30. Cool White has a pretty fair part, and makes all out of it that can be made. Frank Brower has the other intended prominent part—for these are but [last line on page is illeg.] two clearly defined characters in it—but we never saw him in a part that he appears to such disadvantage in is in the character of Pete Troleum; there is no life about it, no fun, and the whole thing lacks that vim so necessary to the success of a ‘Nigger Burlesque.’ However, as we said before, the new piece fills the houses, and we hope it may continue to fill it for weeks to come; for Manager Wood is deserving of large patronage for his liberality in producing novelties; but this fact cannot be permitted to bias us in our impressions of ‘Petroleumania.’ Let the public go and judge for themselves, for, at the best, the people are the real critics, and their favor is of more importance than that of a newspaper critic.”