Exploring the History of Theater - in One Amazing City

Season 1

33. Life & Death in the Theater: More 19th Century Stories

June 17, 2022

Addendum to Season One - Six more stories of 19th C. Philadelphia theater. We discuss Alexander Reinagle, Joseph Jefferson III, James Murdoch, Matilda Heron, John McCullough - as well as two stagehands at the Walnut Street T…

30. The Best of Times

April 18, 2022

From the 1876 Centennial Exposition to the end of the 19th Century, Philadelphia's experienced a boom in theater construction. New plays, musicals, operettas and vaudeville shows constantly cycled in and out of the city to f…

29. The Black Booth: Part Two

March 25, 2022

John A. Arneaux plays "Richard III" at the Academy of Music, then mysteriously exits the American stage. His co-star, the actor Henri Strange, remains - and strives to create a Shakespeare theater for Philadelphia's Black au…

28. The Black Booth: Part One

March 4, 2022

John A. Arneaux starred in a one-night all-Black production of "Richard III' at Philadelphia's Academy of Music in January 1887. Who was he, where had he come from, and why had he chosen Philadelphia for this audacious feat?

27. The Mischianza

Feb. 11, 2022

Another Special Episode! Peter reads the chapter "Oh, It's a Lovely War: The Mischianza 1778" from Thomas H. Keels' 2010 book "Wicked Philadelphia: Sin in the City of Brotherly Love."

26. The Everlasting Minstrel Show

Jan. 28, 2022

The story of one of America's most infamous - and influential - performance traditions, as it specifically relates to the history of theater in Philadelphia.

25. The Charlotte Cushman Club

Jan. 14, 2022

The famous 19th Century American tragic actress - and the 2Oth Century Philadelphia women who founded an organization in her honor.

24. The Mummers Parade - An interview with Dr. Christian DuComb

Dec. 31, 2021

A Special Episode for our listeners! Mike Lueger of "The Theatre History Podcast" interviews Dr. Christian DuComb about the history of Philadelphia Mummers Parade, the history behind the iconic annual Philadelphia event, and…

23. The Academy of Music

Dec. 17, 2021

What was Philadelphia to do, in an age when theater audiences were Running Riot? Why, of course! . .  build them an Academy, and fill it with Grand Opera.

22. Theater of Cruelty

Dec. 3, 2021

Bad behavior, bigotry and boorishness! Philadelphia's New Theatre on Chestnut Street, as well as being the premiere home for drama in America, could also be the site of riots, uproar - and cruelty.

21. "I Fear No One" - Native American Performance in 19th Century Philadelphia

Nov. 19, 2021

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, an exploration of performances by Indigenous People in theaters of the City of Philadelphia in the 19th Century.

20. The Duchess of Arch Street, Part Two

Nov. 5, 2021

"Mrs. John Drew's Arch Street Theatre" was the most famous company in Philadelphia, during the period from 1862 to 1897. We even finally bring on the Barrymores! And we see her as Mrs. Malaprop.

19. The Duchess of Arch Street, Part One

Oct. 15, 2021

Louisa Lane Drew's rise to fame and respectability. We chronicle her early years, long before she became the grandmother of All Them Barrymores.

18. Fanny Kemble, Part Two

Sept. 24, 2021

Fanny Kemble, trapped in her new marriage, learns the stark truth about American slavery and how she herself has become implicated in its horrors. After a long struggle, she finally works her way back to moral clarity and an…

17. Fanny Kemble, Part One

Sept. 10, 2021

Fanny Kemble's performances would help to change the role of women on the American stage, and her stay in Philadelphia would have a transformative effect on her own life story, as well.

16. Forrest of Philadelphia, Part Three

Aug. 20, 2021

Edwin Forrest returns to his home city in the final decades of his life. He keeps performing on the city's stages, and creates his long-term legacy in Philadelphia.

15. Forrest of Philadelphia, Part Two

Aug. 6, 2021

Edwin Forrest builds the repertoire of new roles that would shape his career: Metamora, Spartacus, and Jack Cade.

14. Special Episode: Interview by "The Theatre History Podcast"

July 23, 2021

This is an edited version of the interview with Peter Schmitz by Mike Lueger of "The Theatre History Podcast". In the interview, Peter tries to answer Mike's many excellent questions about this podcast, such as: "Why Philade…

13. Forrest of Philadelphia, Part One

July 9, 2021

We follow Philadelphia's own great tragedian Edwin Forrest from birth, through his early years, to his initial success.

Guest: Tom Schmitz

12. Stages of Fire

June 25, 2021

How Philadelphia'a many theater fires in the 1800s affect the physical environment of plays, even today.

11. The Theatrical Commonwealth

June 11, 2021

Wars, fires, melodramas, circuses, balloons, and ice cream . . .  as we complete our multi-episode exploration of Philadelphia Theater History in the period from 1793-1820.

10. George Frederick Cooke Heads to Philadelphia

May 28, 2021

George Frederick Cooke, one of the greatest actors of the English stage, came to Philadelphia in 1811. In a very real way, he's still here . . .

9. Chaos Comes to Walnut Street

May 14, 2021

The hurricanes of World History blow a French equestrian circus company all the way to Philadelphia, and the Walnut Street Theatre is born.

8. New Year's Day at the New Theatre, 1800

April 30, 2021

Philadelphians ring in the New Year of 1800 with a spectacular staging of "Blue Beard, or Female Curiosity". Meanwhile, in the audience, other dramatic events are taking place!

7. Two Paintings at The Met

April 16, 2021

How two paintings - of a Black oyster-seller and a group of Native Americans - give us insights in the early theater of Philadelphia.

6. Ricketts' Circus in the Capital City, Part Four

April 2, 2021

A Triumph, an International Tour, a Fire, and a Final Exit.

5. Ricketts' Circus in the Capital City, Part Three

March 26, 2021

John Bill Ricketts completes his 1793 season of shows in Philadelphia - just in time to avoid the Yellow Fever epidemic. But when Ricketts finally returns to the city, much later, he builds a new Circus and Art Pantheon

4. Ricketts' Circus in the Capital City, Part Two

March 26, 2021

The influence of the English equestrian Phillip Astley, and how the equestrian circus was developing into an international form of popular entertainment in the late 18th Century.

3. Ricketts' Circus in the Capital City, Part One

March 26, 2021

How Philadelphia became the site of the First American Circus.

2. Early Philadelphia Theater in the 18th Century

March 26, 2021

A broad overview of Philadelphia theater and its contribution to American drama - from the founding of Pennsylvania to the end of the 18th Century. William Penn's antipathy to all things theatrical is discussed, as well as t…

1. Welcome to Adventures in Theater History

March 23, 2021

Why we're here, and what we're trying to do with our podcast. Peter tells the story of his own personal history, and how he started on the task of researching, exploring, and teaching the history of the theater in Philadelp…