Blockbusters of Victorian Theater, 1850–1910

Critical Essays


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About the Book

This edited collection of essays details a wide-ranging selection of some of the most sensationally successful theatre productions of the long Victorian era, the real “blockbusters” of the age. Ranging from the world of operetta and music hall to spectacular drama and sensational melodrama, the productions included provide the reader with definitive proof that the phenomenon of the “smash hit” show is not restricted to modern Broadway.
This is a world that encompassed the ground-breaking stage technology of Ben Hur, the wide political impact of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the sheer creative originality of L’Enfant Prodigue. Supporting the “star” system, productions featured some of the greatest names of the period – Sir Henry Irving, Sir Johnston Forbes Robertson, James O’Neill and Dion Boucicault. This was the very dawning of a new media age, which saw many of the productions transfer to the new world of silent cinema for the very first time

About the Author(s)

Paul Fryer is an academic, author, editor and researcher, based in Kent (UK). He has lectured and presented film screenings internationally and is a visiting professor at the Universities of Leeds, London South Bank and East London.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Paul Fryer
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 219
Bibliographic Info: 20 photos, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2024
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8166-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4942-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Paul Fryer 1
A “Vilely Stupid” Play: The Success of The Passing of the Third Floor Back
Hannah Unwin 11
Mr. Blue Beard: A Show So Spectacular
Danny Devlin 22
“Can a playwright ask for better material?” Bringing Trilby to the Stage
Helice Koffler 37
“A British tar is a soaring soul”: Framing the Process of H.M.S. Pinafore Through the Diaries and Correspondence of Gilbert and Sullivan
Scott M. Hayes 56
The Shaughraun by Dion Boucicault
Nesta Jones 70
The Sweet Smell of Success: Florodora as Victorian Megamusical
Ben Macpherson 88
From Best Seller to Box Office Sensation: The Phenomenon of Mrs. Henry Wood’s East Lynne
Amy Lehman 99
The Faust of Henry Irving: A “Dazzling Emptiness”?
Stephen A. Schrum 111
L’Enfant Prodigue: A Prodigious Production
Tony Lidington 123
What Price Success? The Blessing and the Curse of Monte Cristo
Cecilia J. Pang 140
Princess of the Pearl Island at the Britannia Theatre, Hoxton, 1866–7, in the Context of ­Nineteenth-Century London Pantomimes
Deborah Jeffries 151
From Matinée to Long Run, from “Dearest” to Ibsen: The Revelatory Success of The Real Little Lord Fauntleroy (1888–1891)
Heather Jeanne Violanti 165
Uncle Tom’s Cabin: A Cry for Freedom
Kathy Dacre 178
The Klaw and Erlanger ­Ben-Hur: The Definitive Victorian Blockbuster
Howard Miller 188
About the Contributors 207
Index 209