Entertainment, 1891

1891amusementsAlbanyTimes.pngSo, what were the entertainment options for the family of leisure in Albany, back in January of 1891? You couldn’t complain there was nothing to do.

At Proctor’s Theatre (oh yes, Albany had one of those, too), 45 South Pearl St., Henry E. Dixey was performing “The Seven Ages.” Sounds very tame and refined, no? Turns out Mr. Dixey was something of a sensation, not least for performing in tights.

The Encyclopedia of The Musical Theater says of Henry Dixey:

“He was one of the ‘hottest’ male stars in operetta history, he made ladies in the audience swoon with his flesh coloured tights in the production of Adonis, a boylesque retelling of the famous Galatea saga that Franz von Suppé had used for his legendary one-act show in Vienna. Broadway offered Mr. Dixey as an emancipated male alternative.”

If you want to learn more about “boylesque,” you’re on your own. Whatever was on display, 1600 people could have fit into that theater to see it.

He was to be followed by Lydia Thompson, who brought us Victorian burlesque, and for that I’m gonna let you go ahead and Google it yourself.

Over at H.R. Jacobs’ Opera House, a slightly smaller 1300-seater, Whalen & Martell were putting on some kind of extravaganza under the name of “Great London & American Combination.” Probably best known for another extravaganza called “The South Before the War,” depicting the happy lives of slaves and they joy they took in entertaining us through song, perhaps it’s just as well that the content of this particular show doesn’t yield to an easy search. Following that, the well-known Rose Coghlan would be performing in three different pieces over the course of a weekend, a common approach to entertainment then that would seem simply absolutely impossible today.

At Harmanus Bleecker Hall, we had the spectacular revival of “H.M.S. Pinafore,” first performed in 1878. Interestingly, no stars are named, and it might be safe to assume that none were involved. History doesn’t tell us what happened in 1891, but a letter from 1879, on State Senate stationery, details the disgusting state of affairs that Albany had been lowered to through the advent of “Pinafore-mania.” We’re not kidding.

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