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

O

O'BRIEN'S MINSTRELS. Minstrel troupe, active 1910. Toured the Midwest with a company that featured * Hi Henry Hunt (human snake and fire specialist), Peewee Williams ( tramp juggler), Billy Cauldwell ( monologist), and the Clark Bros. (sketch artists who perfd. in "Prince Montezuma"). The afterpiece was entitled "The Bad Girl from Pinch."

OCTOROONS COMPANY // also called the OCTOROON COMPANY (or the OCTOROON SHOW); originally known as ISHAMS CREOLE OPERA COMPANY, and later as the ROYAL OCTOROONS and ISHAMS OCTOROONS. Combination minstrel, burlesque, and variety troupe and show, active 1895/ 1900. * John W. Isham, prop. and manager. The second company making a definite break with the minstrel tradition by featuring Afr. Am. women on stage. The first had been Sam T. Jack's CREOLE CO. ( 1890/97), for which Isham had been the advance agent. As a part of his innovation, Isham moved the afterpiece or burlesque sketch from the third to the second part of the show and ended the show with a dance finale that included the cakewalk, a military drill, and a closing chorus march. As the show progressed, there were other alterations, similar to those that he included in his next show, the OREINTAL AMERICA Co. ( 1896/99).

The Octoroons Co. (the show itself was called The Octoroons) was organized in NYC and toured the Northeast and the Midwest for five years, playing in such theatres as Waldman's Th. in Newark, NJ; the Empire Th. in Philadelphia, PA; Howard's Th. in Louisville, KY; the Brooklyn Music Hall in Brooklyn, NY; the Coming Opera House in Coming, NY; the Park Th. in Indianapolis, IN; and the Howard Atheneum in NYC. After John Isham retired in 1899, his brother * Will H. Isham ( former acting manager) took over the management.

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