America's Longest Run: A History of the Walnut Street Theatre by Andrew Davis, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
America's Longest Run: A History of the Walnut Street Theatre

America's Longest Run: A History of the Walnut Street Theatre

by Andrew Davis
     
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The book is beautifully produced with a lush, velvet cover that sits as comfortably in one’s hands as, no doubt, patrons sit in the theatre’s lush seats. Readers throughout the country will enjoy this book; although it is a case study of only one significant theatre, it is a comprehensive, fascinating introduction to American culture and society as depicted through the history of its entertainments.”

—Marti LoMonaco, Broadside

“Davis describes the remarkable growth and development of the Walnut over the past several decades. This narrative is among the book’s most useful contributions to the institution’s history. Another important feature of Davis’s chronicle may be found in the way that it documents the central role of the nondramatic in the various activities that took place in and around nineteenth-century American playhouses.

“America’s Longest Run provides a rare opportunity to survey the development of an important American institution that has borne witness to much of the nation’s history.

“Davis’s work will be a welcome addition to the library of anyone interested in the history of Philadelphia or the American theatre.”

—Aaron Tobiason, Pennsylvania History

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780271035789
Publisher:
Penn State University Press
Publication date:
04/08/2010
Series:
A Keystone Book ?
Pages:
424
Product dimensions:
7.40(w) x 10.30(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet 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.

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