San Francisco Minstrels

Event Information

San Francisco Minstrels Hall

Manager / Director:
William H. [minstrel] Bernard

Price: $.30 family circle; .50 parquette; .75 reserved seats; $5 private box

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
6 May 2012

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

22 May 1865, Evening
23 May 1865, Evening
24 May 1865, Evening
25 May 1865, Evening
26 May 1865, Evening
27 May 1865, Evening

Program Details

Venue advertised as “Heller’s Hall.”

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Gounod
aka Opening chorus
Composer(s): Verdi
Composer(s): Thomas
Participants:  David S. Wambold
aka Prisoner's hope; Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are marching
Composer(s): Root
Text Author: Root
Participants:  Ira [minstrel] Paine
Composer(s): Foster
aka Favorite ballads ; Ballads and warblings; Beautiful ballads
Participants:  David S. Wambold
aka Clog reel
Participants:  Tim [dancer] Hayes
aka Imitations of famous actors; Imitations of popular actors
Participants:  Charley Backus


Advertisement: New York Herald, 22 May 1865, 7.
Advertisement: New York Clipper, 27 May 1865, 56.
Advertisement: New York Herald, 27 May 1865.
Review: New York Herald, 29 May 1865.

     “San Francisco Minstrels.—One of the most artistically successful enterprises in the minstrelsy line that has ever been started in this city is that of the new troupe which is performing under the above site at Heller’s Salle.  Although new to us so far as their designation is concerned, they are not so in fact, as all the members of the company are established favorites.  Wambold, the popular tenor, Billy Birch, the great stump orator, and Charley Backus, the best mimic on the stage, are so well know to our public that it is unnecessary to expatiate on their individual merits.  United in the same troupe, under the able direction of Mr. Bernard, they offer to the public a combination that cannot easily be matched.”

Review: New York Clipper, 03 June 1865, 62.

     “The San Francisco Minstrels have made a big hit at Heller’s Hall, and are drawing crowded houses every night.  A programme was submitted last week which, for genuine merit, has seldom been equalled [sic] in this city.  It was an entertainment to win admiration from the most critical, for Birch, Backus, Wambold and Bernard appeared in all kinds of parts, and discharged their duty with unusual brilliancy and excellence.  The musical portion of the entertainment was really unique, and gave unbounded satisfaction.  The olio business, which was well arranged, evinced the excellence of the artistes, and also testified to the enterprise and judgment of the manager.  The musical part of the programme was very fine.  There was the overture from Faust, the opening chorus from Ernani, and then followed Shattuck’s singing of ‘My Lady Love,’ Wambold’s beautiful ‘Isle of the Sea,’ and Ira Paine’s ‘The Prisoner’s Hope,’ all of which were encored.  Birch and Backus were very funny on the end.  We are pleased to notice a great change in these gentlemen’s style of playing.  They have discovered the difference between playing to a first-class Broadway audience and a first-class San Francisco audience.  They have toned down considerably since their first night, and are now really good, and can be listened to by the most fastidious.  In the ‘Police Court Scene,’ Birch was very funny; Charley Backus’ imitations are received each night with much favor.  Now that the boys have established themselves, they are improving every night, and, we are pleased to state, are meeting with all the success they could possibly wish for.  There is one thing certain, they give one of the best minstrel performances seen in this city for a long time, and therefore ought to be encouraged.”