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America's Longest Run: A History of the Walnut Street Theatre (Keystone Book)


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Publisher Comments:

America’s Longest Run: A History of the Walnut Street Theatre traces the history of America’s oldest theater. The Philadelphia landmark has been at or near the center of theatrical activity since it opened, as a circus, on February 2, 1809. This book documents the players and productions that appeared at this venerable house and the challenges the Walnut has faced from economic crises, changing tastes, technological advances, and competition from new media.

The Walnut’s history is a classic American success story. Built in the early years of the nineteenth century, the Walnut responded to the ever-changing tastes and desires of the theatergoing public. Originally operated as a stock company, the Walnut has offered up every conceivable form of entertainment—pageantry and spectacle, opera, melodrama, musical theater, and Shakespeare. It escaped the wrecking ball during the Depression by operating as a burlesque house, a combination film and vaudeville house, and a Yiddish theater, before becoming the Philadelphia headquarters for the Federal Theatre Project. Because Philadelphia is located so close to New York City, the Walnut has served as a tryout house for many Broadway-bound shows, including A Streetcar Named Desire, The Diary of Anne Frank, and A Raisin in the Sun. Today, the Walnut operates as a nonprofit performing arts center. It is one of the most successful producing theaters in the country, with more than 350,000 attending performances each year.

About the Author

Andrew Davis is a specialist in the American popular theatre. He holds a PhD in Performance Studies from New York University and teaches at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations

Prologue: America’s Oldest Theatre

1 The Beginnings of Theatre in Philadelphia, 1682–1809

2 Circus and Spectacle at the Walnut Street Theatre, 1809–1820

3 The Era of the English Star, 1820–1829

4 The Walnut in the Age of Jackson, 1829–1840

5 The Marshall Era, 1840–1849

6 Respectability, 1849–1860

7 The Civil War Years, 1860–1867

8 The Last Years of Stock, 1867–1879

9 A Combination House, 1879–1895

10 The Syndicate Years, 1896–1920

11 Boom and Bust, 1920–1940

12 A Tryout House, 1941–1954

13 The Shuberts in Decline, 1954–1969

14 Performing Arts Center, 1969–1982

15 A Subscription House, 1982–1999

16 The State Theatre of Pennsylvania, 2000 and Beyond




Product Details

Davis, Andrew
Penn State University Press
World History-General
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Keystone Books®
Publication Date:
10 x 7 in

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Drama » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Foreign Policy
History and Social Science » World History » General
Travel » General

America's Longest Run: A History of the Walnut Street Theatre (Keystone Book) New Trade Paper
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