George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 9 January 1797]

9. Clear & very cold—wind in the same place. Went to the Theatre, for the first time this Season. The Child of Nature & The Lock & Key were performed. [2]

went: GW has inadvertently written “Wind” in the MS. The New Theatre on Chestnut Street above Sixth Street had opened in 1794, and was said to be the finest theater in America at this time. It was copied after the theater at Bath, Eng., and seated 2,000 people. A stock company had been formed by Hugh Reinagle and Thomas Wignall, and they spent money lavishly to procure costumes and scenery and to obtain a supply of good actors, many from England (SCHARF [1] description begins J. Thomas Scharf and Thompson Westcott. History of Philadelphia. 1609–1884. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1884. description ends , 2:970–71). The Child of Nature was a comedy in four acts, and The Lock and Key, a comic opera in two acts. The latter had been a resounding success in London, where it had played at Covent Garden Theatre for about 130 nights (Gaz. of the U.S. [Philadelphia], 5 and 9 Jan. 1797). The performance this evening was by request, and a local newspaper proclaimed that “the President of the United States, and Family, will honor the Theatre with their company” (Claypoole’s Adv. [Philadelphia], 9 Jan. 1797; Gaz. of the U.S. [Philadelphia], 9 Jan. 1797).

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