Bird of Paradise

Event Information

New-York Theatre (1866-69)

Proprietor / Lessee:
Mark Smith
Lewis Baker [mgr-actor]

Manager / Director:
Sallie A. Hinckley

Ballet Director / Choreographer:
Antonio Grossi

Record Information


Last Updated:
21 December 2015

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

29 Jan 1867, Evening
30 Jan 1867, Evening
31 Jan 1867, Evening
01 Feb 1867, Evening
02 Feb 1867, Evening

Performers and/or Works Performed

Participants:  New-York Theatre, corps de ballet;  Lewis Baker [mgr-actor] (role: Short-boots, Fernand's Valet);  Mark Smith (role: Nikobar, the Musician);  Ida DeVere (role: Dilna, the Bird of Paradise);  William Gomersal (role: Mousseline, Handmaiden of Nikobar);  Sallie A. Hinckley (role: Don Fernand)
Composer(s): Tissington


Advertisement: New York Herald, 26 January 1867.

“…produced with entirely new scenery, magnificent wardrobe, new and appropriate music, a complete corps de ballet and a powerful cast.”

Advertisement: New York Herald, 29 January 1867.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 29 January 1867.
Review: New York Herald, 30 January 1867, 8.

"Last evening 'The Bird of Paradise,' a crude translation of a very bad French extravaganza, was presented at this house with its many blank spots filled in with ballet beauties. The plot in the piece is meagre, as is usually the case in such affairs. A Brahmin magician being in want of a thirteenth wife devises the novel experiment of manufacturing one to his taste. By an accident and the commingling with his chemical compound of an unexpected element, the being created has the power of transforming herself at will into a bird of Paradise, and thus empowered flies about the stage throughout the last three acts of the piece, committing polygamy at every turn. The plot ends here, and the remainder of the piece is based on ballet action, fine dresses and neat figures exclusively. Miss Hinckley acts well in the little she has to do, and displays several beautiful dresses. As for the rest of the company, owing to the wretched construction of the dialogue, their business was little more than to fill in the scene with their presence. The principal tableaux were encored, however, and the lighting up of the stage was effectively managed. The piece will be performed until further notice."

Review: New York Sun, 30 January 1867, 4.

“Another of that clan of spectacular pieces which began to fill the coffers of the New York managers five or six months since, was produced at the handsome New York Theatre last night. The present precious production is called A Bird of Paradise; it is announced as ‘a grand Parisian success.’ Perhaps it was. If so—we have hitherto been mistaken in Parisian taste—which we fancied was associated with good sense! Magnificent scenery, costly costumes, lime lights, colored fires, ballet (with several of the lady performers as little dressed as the police act permits!) trivial music, and an impossible or absurd plot—such is the material of the new piece. The story is a mixture of Shelley’s Frankenstein and somebody else’s Statue Bride. Mr. Mark Smith and an aged and experienced manager and sorcerer creates a woman. He endows her with life. He seeks her love. She bestows her virgin affections on Miss Sallie Hinckley.  This is all. It takes four acts to relate these facts. The narrative, being too long for the matter, is too trivial, and in one instance, hath a taste—‘it somewhat smacks,’ as the junior Dobbs says. We do not think the Bird will have a long run—or perhaps we should say flight. It is uninteresting, notwithstanding the display of feminine beauty and pictorial embellishments. The actors do their best for it—Mr. Mark Smith, Mr. Lewis Baker and Mr. Gomersal especially, who struggle to make lively very dull parts; and the ladies also interest themselves to make the piece please; but it won’t please. Indeed, as a play we may say that of the few dramas of which it may be said they are so bad that there can’t be worse—the Bird of Paradise is one of those few. We regret that Miss Hinckley’s judgment has so deceived her in regard to the piece; for she is an industrious, ardent worker, and a deserving one.”

Review: New York Clipper, 09 February 1867, 350.

No mention of music.