Wood's Minstrel Hall
30 August 2012
“The title [of this burlesque] is significant, and the reader cannot fail to understand the drift. The piece consists of six scenes, in which Mr. Barnum and the Chieftain of the Satanic Press are the principal characters. Incidents not wholly unconnected with the destruction of Barnum’s Museum, the purchase of its site by Mr. Bennett of The Herald, and the recent conduct of the New York managers in reference to that newspaper, are to be illustrated in this burlesque. We trust that it will prove a pungent and effective piece.”
“Wood's Minstrels.—In addition to a very excellent programme of colored minstrelsy, Mr. Wood last night favored his audience with a most extraordinary sensationalism entitled the ‘Manager’s Triumph, or the Blackmailer’s Defeat.” Were the intent and drift of the composition at all obscure—and they are not—the names of the dramatis personae would clearly indicate the point and moral of the play. In brief, the story narrates the ills to which managerial flesh is said to have been exposed for some time past, the disgust of Satan at the folly of his protégé and his determination to ‘go back on him,’ the council of managers at which Messrs. Stuart, Wallack, Wood, Bryant, Wheatley, Maretzek, Barnum and Mrs. Wood appear to take high vows of vengeance, the emute between the managers and the blackmailer, the fearful dreams of the aforesaid, and his final descent, to slow music, to the realms of sulphuric torment and never-ending remorse. The questionable propriety of thus holding any one up to ridicule and contempt of the public, seemed to have but little weight with the audience, which was uproariously merry, and seized with readiness every local allusion and personal application. One or two rehearsals will somewhat oil the wheels of business, and then, doubtless the ‘Managers’ Triumph,’ slang, wit, venom and all, will have a good and paying run. The gentlemen personating our suave and courtly managers, would do well to follow the example of Cool White, who, with Mr. Budworth, perhaps, was the only one ‘up’ in his part, and whose acting could in any way be commended.”
“The commodious and pleasant hall of Wood’s Minstrels . . . is now nightly crowded with amused and approving spectators of the new burlesque of ‘The Managers’ Triumph, or the Blackmailer’s Defeat.” This piece is brief and pungent and, to the public at large, is calculated to convey an unmistakable explanation of the recent protest of the New-York theatrical managers against the injustice and tyranny of a corrupt newspaper. The facts connected with that protest are well-known, and need not here be rehearsed. The burlesque scarcely exaggerates any point in the whole affair. It introduces the principal parties, and it throws around them all an atmosphere of farce. The sable tinge, appropriate to Ethiopian performers is, of course, preserved. Mr. Budworth personates Barnum, and Mr. Purdy appears as the indefatigable Max Maretzek.
The unwelcome character of Satan is assumed—in Scottish garb—by Mr. White. Suitable scenery heightens the effect of this very plain-spoken and pointed piece of local satire. As a composition, it does not challenge criticism. Its chief merit is its bluntness in a good cause. To our mind, despite its ludicrous aspect, it has a sad significance. It is mournful to witness the visitation of public obloquy upon any individual, however well deserved. In this instance, strict justice governs the hand of the satirist. There are other attractions in Wood’s Minstrel Hall, in the nature of Ethiopian Minstrelsy, one of the best of which is Signor Louis Vayo’s remarkable imitation of birds and animals.”
“Rare Fun.—We are promised some racy enjoyment at Wood’s Minstrels this week, on the occasion of the production of a brand new burlesque called ‘The Manager’s Triumph, or the Black Mailer’s Defeat.’ . . . The subject affords a wide scope for the minstrels to display their abilities in a ‘comical mood’ and if the piece does not make a hit we shall be greatly surprised. One of our contemporaries is to be represented in glowing colors, while the managers of the Union Association will be personalized by the members of the troupe. The first scene shows us the Informal Regions; the second, the ruins of the Barnum’s Museum; third, the Editor’s Sanctum; fourth, Managers’ Headquarters; fifth, abode of the black mail chief; sixth, the Enchanted Grove. The whole thing has been worked up in dramatic form, with new scenery, costumes, novel effects, &c., to embellish it. There will be crowded houses at Wood’s Minstrels and everybody will be anxious to see and hear how the dramatist has done his work, and the performers their’s [sic]. Go early if you wish a good place.”
“ ‘The Manager’s Triumph, or the Black Mailer’s Defeat’—the new local sensation burlesque—was produced at Wood’s Minstrel Hall, on Oct. 23d., to a good house, and kept the boards during the week, the attendance each night becoming larger, and on Saturday evening the hall was very crowded. The burlesque is founded on the late troubles between our theatrical managers and the editor of one of our morning journals. On its first representation, like most new plays on the first night it did not go off very smoothly; several of the actors were not up in their roles; while the last scene, the handsomest in the burlesque, was not shown at all, owing to the bungling of the stage carpenters, the drop being run down before the piece was finished. But this was remedied the second night, since which time many new gags have been introduced, and everything works exceedingly well. During the acting of the burlesque many first rate hits are got off at the expense of the editor man, which afford the audience a fund of humor. The piece is in seven scenes . . . [plot synopsis] . . . The scene changes to the enchanted grove, the managers arrive to say good-bye to Gordon, who disappears with Satan through a trap, the managers singing ‘Good-bye Jim,’ and ‘Frog, Black Mail we are Free,’ and the burlesque ends with a long banner inscribed on it ‘This establishment does not advertise in the Herald.’ The burlesque is very cleverly written, and is replete with fun. J. H. Budworth’s make up and acting of Barnum is capital, Clarke’s make up for Gordon is also very good, and C. Henry’s take off of Lester Wallack is good. Cool White perpetuates Satan in a devil of a manner, which is complimentary to Cool. In fact, all do their best to please, and they succeed, judging by the audiences, who are kept laughing all the time. The burlesque is in for a run.”