The Chestnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was the first theater in the United States built by entrepreneurs solely as a venue for paying audiences.
Philadelphia, known colloquially as Philly, is the largest city in the U.S. state and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the sixth-most populous U.S. city, with a 2018 census-estimated population of 1,584,138. Since 1854, the city has been coterminous with Philadelphia County, the most populous county in Pennsylvania and the urban core of the eighth-largest U.S. metropolitan statistical area, with over 6 million residents as of 2017. Philadelphia is also the economic and cultural anchor of the greater Delaware Valley, located along the lower Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, within the Northeast megalopolis. The Delaware Valley's population of 7.2 million ranks it as the eighth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.
Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a state located in the northeastern, Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The Appalachian Mountains run through its middle. The Commonwealth is bordered by Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east.
The Chestnut Street Theatre (originally named the New Theatre) was the brainchild of Thomas Wignell and Alexander Reinagle who in 1791 convinced a group of Philadelphia investors to build a theater suitable for Wignell’s company to perform in. Wignell had not yet formed his company when the New Theatre was being set up to be built, but as the New Theater was being built, Wignell was in England recruiting actors to be a part of his company.The New Theater's design, modeled after the Theatre Royal, Bath, was made possible by John Inigo Richards, Wignell's brother-in-law, who obtained architect Thomas Greenway’s original plans. The New Theatre was built on Chestnut Street near the corner of Sixth Street across from Congress Hall. $30,000 was raised for the construction of the building and the finale touches were not completed until 1805 under architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe. The stage ran with a depth of seventy-one feet and had a width of thirty feet. The three tiers of boxes could hold nine hundred people; the theatre itself was able to hold an audience of two thousand. There were multiple dressing rooms, two green rooms, and for the first time in America a large well-stocked wardrobe. There were two different entrances from the street for the theatre patrons, those going to the pit and those headed to the boxes. The entryway to the pit was only eighteen inches wide, a death trap in the event of a fire. Like English theatres the New Theatre on Chestnut Street had all the essentials. A proscenium with proscenium doors in the proscenium walls with a balcony overhead. Not long after its construction the New Theatre was often referred to as one of the Seven Wonders of America. A yellow fever epidemic spoiled the theater’s debut in 1793, and its first regular season did not begin until the following year when the inaugural night’s entertainment offered a double feature, John O'Keeffe's Castle of Andalusia and Hannah Cowley's Who's the Dupe? Over the following twenty-seven years the theater would become a showcase for works by local and national dramatist of the day. In 1816 the New Theatre became the first American theater to be illuminated by gas fixtures rather than candlelight or oil lamps. Four years later a suspicious fire destroyed the theater along with its library, music, scenery and costumes. The cause of the fire remained a mystery since the building had been vacant for several days while the company was engaged in Baltimore.
Thomas Wignell was an English-born actor and theatre manager in colonial United States.
Alexander Robert Reinagle was an English-born American composer, organist, and theater musician. He should not be confused with his nephew of the same name, Alexander Robert Reinagle, also a composer and organist, who lived all his life in Britain. He was a close friends with a young Mozart when he visited London. He was influenced by Haydn, Mozart and Clementi.
The Theatre Royal in Bath, England, was built in 1805. A Grade II* listed building, it has been described by the Theatres Trust as "One of the most important surviving examples of Georgian theatre architecture". It has a capacity for an audience of around 900.
Two years later, the second Chestnut Street Theatre rose from the ashes of the first. It was built in the customary design of the day by architect William Strickland with triple tiers of boxes making a horseshoe around the orchestra and apron of the stage that accommodated about 2,000 theatergoers. The façade was made of Italian-style marble with an arcade supported by a row of composite columns with a plain entablature. The entrance stood between two wings whose niches held statues of Tragedy and Comedy by William Rush. Below the statues were semi-circular recesses containing basso relievos of tragic and comic muses.
William Strickland, was a noted architect and civil engineer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Nashville, Tennessee. A student of Benjamin Latrobe and mentor to Thomas Ustick Walter, Strickland helped establish the Greek Revival movement in the United States. A pioneering engineer, he wrote a seminal book on railroad construction, helped build several early American railroads, and designed the first ocean breakwater in the Western Hemisphere.
William Rush was a U.S. neoclassical sculptor from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is considered the first major American sculptor. Rush was born in Philadelphia, the fourth child of Joseph Rush, a ship's carpenter, and first wife, Rebecca Lincoln. As a teenager, he apprenticed three years with woodcarver Edward Cutbush, and soon surpassed his master in the art of carving of ships' figureheads in wood. He saw military service during the American Revolution, as an officer in the militia. He opened his own wood carving business, and was in great demand when the U.S. Navy began building ships on Philadelphia. Later in life, he took up sculpture. Rush was one of the founders of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and taught sculpture there. He was also active in local politics, serving on the Philadelphia City Council for two decades. Rush died in Philadelphia in 1833, and is buried at The Woodlands (Philadelphia).
The Chestnut Street Theatre was once again consumed in a fire in 1856 and would not see another curtain rise for six years.
The third Chestnut Street Theatre was built in 1862, seven blocks to the west of its original location, where once again it found favor with Philadelphia audiences as a fashionable night spot. Tragic actress Jean Hosmer was among those who starred at the debut of the third theater.
Jean Haskell Hosmer was an American actress and tragedienne who reached the zenith of her career directly following the American Civil War, and is associated through her career with actor and Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth along his brother Edwin Booth.
It closed its doors for the last time in 1913 after the curtain fell on the final act of Arthur Wing Pinero's The Second Mrs Tanqueray , and the building was demolished soon afterwards.
Sir Arthur Wing Pinero was an English playwright and, early in his career, actor.
The Second Mrs. Tanqueray is a problem play by Sir Arthur Wing Pinero. It adopts the "Woman with a past" plot, popular in nineteenth century melodrama.
A theatre in the round, arena theatre or central staging is a space for theatre in which the audience surrounds the stage.
A safety curtain is a fire safety precaution used in large proscenium theatres. It is usually a heavy fibreglass or iron curtain located immediately behind the proscenium arch. Asbestos-based materials were originally used to manufacture the curtain, before the dangers of asbestos were widely publicized. The safety curtain is sometimes referred to as an iron in British theatres, regardless of the actual construction material.
John Inigo Richards was an English landscape painter who became one of the founding members of the Royal Academy in 1768, and was secretary to the Academy from 1788 until his death.
The Theatre Royal is a historic theatre, a Grade I listed building situated on Grey Street in Newcastle upon Tyne.
In theatre and performing arts, the stage is a designated space for the performance of productions. The stage serves as a space for actors or performers and a focal point for the members of the audience. As an architectural feature, the stage may consist of a platform or series of platforms. In some cases, these may be temporary or adjustable but in theaters and other buildings devoted to such productions, the stage is often a permanent feature.
A theater, theatre or playhouse, is a structure where theatrical works or plays are performed, or other performances such as musical concerts may be produced. While a theater is not required for performance, a theater serves to define the performance and audience spaces. The facility is traditionally organized to provide support areas for performers, the technical crew and the audience members.
The Old American Company was an American theatre company. It was the first fully professional theatre company to perform in North America. It also played a vital role in the theatre history of Jamaica. It was founded in 1752 and disbanded in 1805. It was known as the Hallam Company (1752-1758), the American Company (1758-1785) and the Old American Company (1785-1805). With a few temporary exceptions, the Company enjoyed a de facto monopoly of professional theatre in the United States until 1790.
The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts is a large performing arts venue located at 300 South Broad Street at the corner of Spruce Street, along the stretch known as the "Avenue of the Arts", in Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is owned and operated by Kimmel Center, Inc., an organization which also manages the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, and, as of November 2016, the Merriam Theater. The center is named after philanthropist Sidney Kimmel.
The Academy of Music, also known as American Academy of Music, is a concert hall and opera house located at 240 S. Broad Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Its location is between Locust and Manning Streets in the Avenue of the Arts area of Center City.
Grand Théâtre de Genève is an opera house in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Suzanne Roberts Theatre is a theatre on Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts. The theater opened in October 2007 and is home to the Philadelphia Theatre Company. The theater was designed by KieranTimberlake, using the principles of Universal design. The theater's signage facade was designed by House Industries in Wilmington, Delaware and produced by Zahner in Kansas City, Missouri.
Lisle's Tennis Court was a building off Portugal Street in Lincoln's Inn Fields in London. Originally built as a real tennis court, it was used as a playhouse during two periods, 1661–1674 and 1695–1705. During the early period, the theatre was called Lincoln's Inn Fields Playhouse, also known as The Duke's Playhouse, The New Theatre or The Opera. The building was demolished and replaced by a purpose-built theatre for a third period, 1714–1728. The tennis court theatre was the first public playhouse in London to feature the moveable scenery that would become a standard feature of Restoration theatres.
Philadelphia's Baltimore & Ohio Railroad station – also known as the B & O station or Chestnut Street station – was the main passenger station for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Designed by architect Frank Furness in 1886, it stood at 24th Street and the Chestnut Street Bridge from 1888 to 1963.
Theophilus Parsons Chandler Jr. was an American architect of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He spent his career at Philadelphia, and is best remembered for his churches and country houses. He founded the Department of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania (1890), and served as its first head.
The Orpheum Theatre, a 2,308-seat venue listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is located in downtown Memphis, Tennessee, on the southwest corner of the intersection of South Main and Beale streets. The Orpheum, along with the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education, compose the Orpheum Theatre Group, a community-supported nonprofit corporation that operates and maintains the venues and presents education programs.
William H. McElfatrick was an American architect who specialized in theaters.
The Tanghalang Pambansa, formerly Theater of Performing Arts, is a theater located in the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex in Manila, Philippines.
Elizabeth Walker Morris, was an English-born American stage actress. She was engaged in the Old American Company.
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