Performing Irishness at Tony Pastor’s Opera House, 1865–1874

  • Jennifer Mooney
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History book series (PSTPH)


Tony Pastor, one of the leading vaudeville showmen of the late nineteenth century, opened his first theatre in New York in July 1865. Situated at 201 Bowery, Tony Pastor’s Opera House was located in what from the 1840s was a predominantly poor, working-class area largely populated by African Americans and German and Irish immigrants. By the time of the Civil War, the Bowery was “a mecca for saloons, gambling parlors, opium dens, flophouses, brothels, pawnshops, second-hand stores and low-brow entertainment venues featuring blackface minstrelsy, burlesque and cabarets.” Pastor would stay at this location until 1875, when he moved further uptown to a more salubrious venue at 585 Broadway. As shown in the previous chapter, programs for Pastor’s Bowery theatre reflect the ethnic nature of much variety entertainment of the period.1


Irish Woman Irish People Irish Immigrant American Character English Army 
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  1. 1.
    Eric Ferrara, The Bowery: A History of Grit, Graft and Grandeur (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2011), 39.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Fields Tony Pastor, 33, 44; Susan Kattwinkel, “Negotiating a New Identity: Irish Americans and the Variety Theatre in the 1860s,” in Interrogating America Through Theatre and Performance, ed. William W. Demastes and Iris Smith Fischer (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 48–9.Google Scholar

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© Jennifer Mooney 2015

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  • Jennifer Mooney

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