Daily Archives: December 11, 2012

The Pearl Street Theatre

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Writing in 1867, Joel Munsell described the second permanent theater building in Albany:

“The next theatre erected exclusively for the representation of legitimate drama, was the edifice in South Pearl street, now occupied for the same purpose, and known under the sugar-coated appellation of Academy of Music. It was erected by a joint stock company of some of the most prominent capitalists in the city in the year 1825, and was at the time one of the most elegant theatres in the country. It was 116 feet deep, 60 feet wide, and 40 feet high. The auditory consisted of a pit and three tiers of boxes, a portion of the upper tier being used as a gallery. The stage was 52 by 58 feet.” The stock company consisted of George Barrett, his wife (“formerly Miss Henry”), his mother and several others. “Soon after its opening, Booth, the great star of the day [most likely Edwin Booth], appeared in his favorite tragic characters.”

Edmund Kean made his debut 8th December [1825], as Richard III. He had previously been hissed off the stage in Boston, where the theatre was nearly destroyed by a mob. In New York also great efforts were made to prevent his playing. Here, however, he was greeted by an overflowing house. So great was the crowd that many retired through fear of suffocation, and a great number that came from adjoining towns were unable to obtain admission.”

The theater closed in 1839 and was sold to St. Paul’s Church, which used it until 1862 when it was returned to life as a theater.

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