The African American Theatre Directory, 1816-1960: A Comprehensive Guide to Early Black Theatre Organizations, Companies, Theatres, and Performing Groups

By Bernard L. Peterson Jr. | Go to book overview

C

CALLENDER'S GEORGIA MINSTRELS // and other related minstrel troupes. Callender's Georgia Minstrels was one of the best-known and most successful troupes, active 1872/c. 1885. This troupe, originally owned by Charles Callender, a white tavern owner and impressano, was formed from the equally famous black-owned company of HICKS' GEORGIA MINSTRELS (his second troupe), which * Charles B. Hicks was forced to sell to Callender out of financial necessity and the inability to book his company successfully because of his color. Callender's troupe toured the principal cities and towns throughout the United States for about five years ( 1873-78) with a company of sixty that included such stars as * Billy Kersands, * Pete Devonear, * Dick Little, and * Sam Lucas.

After that tour, the troupe was leased for about five years to the well-known proprietor J. H. Haverly, who combined Callender's [formerly Hicks's] troupe with his own [Haverly's] United Mastodon Minstrels (consisting of forty performers). The combined troupe of one hundred, called Haverly's Colored Minstrels, was better known as the Black 100 (or Black One Hundred). Haverly organized this gigantic troupe in Chicago, and from there it toured New York, Boston, and most of the major cities in the United States, after which it made a successful tour of Europe ( 1881-82). There it became known as Haverly's European Minstrels and gave a command performance for the British royal family. The stars of this company were Kersands, Lucas, the *Mallory Bros., Tom McIntosh, the *Bohee Bros., * James Grace and * Charles Cruso.

Following the European tour, Charles Frohman, assisted by his brother Gustave Frohman, gained control of Callender's company and built it up to the largest company of minstrels ever assembled. From 1882 to 1884, it toured under a variety of inflated promotional titles, including Callender's [Colossal]

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