The 1817-1818 Season

By Franklin Case

The new season began on 13 October 1817, with Miss Scott's The Lord of the Castle, Leclerq's The Woodman Prince, and The Sportsman and Shepherd; or, Where's The Wig?. The title of The Lord of The Castle was later changed to The Castle of Alberti; or, The Sacred Oath. For the 27th performance, the bill contains the following note: "No money returned nor orders admitted nor children suffered to pass on any account." the Theatrical Inquisitor of October states:

This popular establishment re-opened for the season on Monday, the 13th. inst. after considerable embellishments in the decorations that have been long and much admired. A new melodrama has been produced from the ready pen of Miss Scott, called The Lord of the Castle, which was received throughout with long and loud applause till it terminated in a peal of protracted satisfaction. The ballet of The Woodman Prince is a pretty offering to Terpsichore and exhibits the graceful ability of Monsieur and Madam Leclerq to great advantage. The corps de ballet is particularly effective. We ... cannot conclude without expressing our pleasure at a continued acquaintance with many old favourites among whom Messrs. J. Jones and Huckel, in their devious walks are entitled to undiminished commendation (p. 319).

The British Stage was also taken with The Lord of the Castle, "a melo-drama ... in which serious and ludicrous incidents are very happily blended." This journal also praised The Widow's Tears, "a burlesque operetta founded on Bickerstaffe's Ephesian Matron." It said this piece "bids fair to attain to considerable popularity; it is a very pleasant trifle, and extremely well performed." Additional praise was lavished upon the dancing in the person of Madam Charles Leclercq: "The principal female dancer at this house, Madam Leclercq, is one of the prettiest and most fascinating little creatures we ever witnessed; as a Columbine she would prove particularly serviceable at one of the winter theatres" (17 November 1817, p. 253). In December, Madam Leclercq did in fact dance Columbine in the pantomime The Necromancer.

This season was shortened because of a long mourning period for the deaths of Princess Charlotte and her child. The dark period lasted from 7 November 1817, through 21 November 1817. Adding to this period the regular dark dates in the season, the theatre was closed for 17 days.

The bill for 7 March 1818, which included Whackham and Windham and The Three Crumps, remarks that the theatre was "patronized by all the Royal Family." The British Stage (December 1817), notes that "The comic songs of Mr. Huckel also afford much gratification":

Then I went to the Park and I saw the great gun Which a present, 'tis said, from the Spainiards did come: A very queer present, I swear by the Mass, For we lend them our gold, and they pay us in brass.

On 14 March 1818, the season ended with performances of The Fortunate Youth; The Woodman Prince; Love! Honour! and Obey!, and The Three Crumps.

© Copyright 1988 by Alfred L. Nelson and Gilbert B. Cross

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