The Diary of Orville Hickman Browning

Matthew Brady, ‘Edwin Forrest as Rolla’ (c.1861), National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Edwin Forrest Home for Retired Actors, http://npg.si.edu/object/npg_NPG.88.99

Source: Theodore Calvin Pease and James G. Randall (eds.), The Diary of Orville Hickman Browning: Volume 1, 1850-1864 (Springfield, Ill.: The Trustees of the Illinois State Historical Library, 1925), p. 216

Production: Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Pizarro, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, 15 December 1855

Text: Reached Philadelphia before night & stopped at Girard House. At night went to Walnut Street Theatre to hear Forrest, who was doing Rolla in the play of Pizzarro and did it shockingly – Miserable actor. Mrs Drew, in Elvira, played well, and was the only one who did. Miss Weston in Cora did passably – The rest were all exceedingly common place – Did not stay for the after piece.

Comments: Orville Hickman Browning (1806-1881) was an American lawyer and Whig Republican senator. His diaries contain several references to theatregoing. Edwin Forrest was one of the great tragedians of the nineteenth-century American stage. Louisa Lane Drew (often billed as Mrs John Drew) was an ancestor of the great Barrymore acting family. The film actress Drew Barrymore is her great-great-granddaughter. Both appeared in Richard Brinsley Sheridan‘s tragedy on the conquest of Peru, Pizarro, at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, the part of Rolla being one of Forrest’s most celebrated roles.

Links: Copy at Hathi Trust

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