IMPERIAL THEATRE STOCK COMPANY. The success of the Hopkins Grand Opera House Stock Company* encouraged J. C. Jannopoulo and his associates to lease Hagan's Opera House, St. Louis, Missouri, and hire Samuel W. Gumpertz to manage the new theatre, to be called the Imperial. Jannopoulo immigrated to the United States in 1884 and settled in St. Louis, where his uncle was the Greek consul. For several years he ran his uncle's tent and awning business, then, in 1895, he opened what was to become one of St. Louis's most successful summer resorts, the Suburban Gardens. As did his competitors at Uhrig's Cave and Koerner's Gardens, Jannopoulo offered his clients not only plenty of cheap beer but also musical theatre, drama, and vaudeville.
Gumpertz designed the resident stock company at the Imperial to attract a class of patron different than that frequenting Hopkins' Grand Opera House. The Imperial generally ignored comedy, especially farce, and concentrated on higher-class drama. It also offered not vaudeville but grand and light opera in the interludes of the play. (The operatic interludes lasted only one month before they gave way to vaudeville.) The Imperial charged 10, 20, and 30 cents for admission to seven weekly matinees and seven weekly evening performances. The stage director was a local actor, Beaumont Smith, and the company included Lawrence Hanley in lead roles, with Victory Bateman and Fannie Bloodgood supporting. Fanny McIntyre joined the company in midseason, as did the seasoned stock actor William Redmund. Jessaline Rodgers and Fred Bock jumped from Hopkins' group to the Imperial in January and stayed to the end of the season. The more refined language and action of an adaptation of Ouida novel Moths greeted the first week's customers. In later weeks, patrons saw Lawrence Hanley and Charles Burnham (a defector from the Grand Opera House company) in Shakespeare Othello, Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, Cymbeline, Romeo and Juliet, and Julius Caesar; Tom Taylor The Fool's Revenge; G. A. à Beckett's Don Caesar de Bazan; Edward Bulwer-Lytton The Lady of Lyons;