Opening of the Chestnut Street Theatre

From the New York Magazine or Literary Repository, April, 1794


    "This building, under the management of Mssrs. Wignell and Reinagle, was opened for the dramatic performances on Monday evening, the 17th of February, 1794, with the opera of the Castle of Andalusia, and the afterpiece of Who's the Dupe?"

    The Auditorium

      "The managers have used their utmost endeavours to form a theatre of elegance and convenience. That part of the theatre before the curtain forms a semicircle; having two rows of boxes entending from side to side, with another row above these, and on a line with the gallery in front.

      The boxes are lined with a pink colored paper, with small dark spots, and supported by pillars representing bundles of reeds (gilt) bound with red fillets; between the pillars, festoons of crimson curtains, with tassels intervening, and a profusion of glass chandeliers, form an assemblage that captivates the eye, and renders the whole a most pleasing spectacle.

    The Decor

      The paintings and scenery are equal to the generality of the European, and do the greatest credit to the pencil and genius of Mr. Milbourne. The dresses correspond with the elegance of the whole.

      The emblematical device over the stage is very applicable, and well executed -- it represents an eagle hovering in the air; beneath is a boy holding a blue ribband, on which is inscribed "the eagle suffers little birds to sing." Shakespeare.

    The Performers

      The performers, who have been selected from the various theatres in England (among whom we can boast of a Darley, a Fennel, and a Mrs. Whitlock) have, in the various pieces already exhibited, exerted themselves so as to claim the protection of a majority of the inhabitants of Philadelphia, and merit their future favour.

      Upon the whole, this city, we may now conclude, can boast of rational entertainments equal to their most sanguine hopes."

    (The article is dated Philadelphia, March 12, 1794.)