Fifth Avenue Opera House
22 August 2016
“A large audience met last evening in the Fifth Avenue new Opera House. The entertainment was of the usual character. Consisting of pathetic and comic songs and ballads, extravaganzas, dancing and burlesques. The audience evidently went to the Opera House with the expectation of enjoying an evening of pure recreation, and judging from the continual roars of laughter and sounds of applause which greeted this clever minstrel troupe, no one went away disappointed. The concluding piece, ‘St. George and the Dragon,’ was particularly well received, with unmistakeable [sic] signs of approval.”
Includes portrait of James H. Budworth.
“This popular minstrel performer was born in Philadelphia, Dec. 24, 1831. In early life he evinced a decided taste for music and theatricals. Possessed of a powerful voice and a wonderful gift of imitation, he, when quite a boy, amused and astonished those who heard him with his correct imitation of persons whom he had heard speak or sing. He made his first appearance at the Park Theatre, in this city, in 1848, and was performing there at the time the building was destroyed by fire. He then engaged himself at the Broadway Theatre, appearing in several characters with success. Minstrelsy being at that time in the ascendancy, he changed his complexion, and joined an Ethiopian company under the management of the celebrated Luke West. He traveled with this company through the South for a while, and then left them to join Charley White's party, who were then performing at his Opera House in the Bowery. N. Y. While with this company he improved very fast. Being versatile in his performances, he became a very useful member of the profession. His services were shortly after secured by Mr. Henry Wood, for Geo. Christy & Wood's Minstrels, then performing to crowded houses at the old Hall, 444 Broadway. There he became quite a favorite with the New York public. Since then he has traveled through the United States and Canadas [sic], everywhere giving entire satisfaction. On the 26th of May, 1865, he appeared at the Park Theatre, Brooklyn, in the farce of ‘The Persecuted Dutchman.’ The piece in which he appeared is a mere sketch designed for a display of broad humor. It gives the actor an opportunity to air his aptitude for imitating the ‘sweet German accent,’ and Teutonic stolidity of habit. Few actors have ever attempted this line of business, and only one or two ‘stage Dutchmen’ have ever achieved even a passing success. Whether it is that the character is difficult to impersonate or lacks the necessary humorous element to make it popular, we do not know. Mr. Budworth succeeded in keeping the house in a roar of laughter from the time he stepped on the stage till the curtain went down. His make-up was capital, his natural figure being much in his favor. His imitation of the Germanized English was exceedingly good. Mr. Budworth has a natural vein of humor, without which no actor can become a successful comedian; humor in action, gesture, or expression, which sets the audience laughing before he opens his mouth. He is at present engaged with Budworth’s Minstrels, at the Fifth Avenue Opera House. For the past four or five years he has been studying hard to perfect himself in several comic characters, especially Dutch, as he intends shortly to bid adieu to his dark brothers, and appear again on the legitimate stage. With this natural qualification and the aptitude he has displayed, Mr. Budworth may, if he sees fit, make his mark on the stage, if he chooses to abandon minstrelsy and take to the regular walks of the profession. The latter is more laborious and uncertain than the business he is now engaged in, but the reward of success is much greater. It is for Mr. Budworth to elect whether the inducements are sufficient to change his professional complexion.”