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Boston Museum

Haworth's Life
Haworth's Times
Haworth's Versatility
Haworth's Press
Haworth's Writings
NY Engagements
His Brother William
The Haworth Tradition

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Boston Museum
(Boston, MA)

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The Boston Museum in 1903-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (148098 bytes)

The Boston Museum in 1876 The Boston Museum in 1903

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Foyer Green Room

Built Originally built as the old New England Museum
Location Boston, MA
Developer/Manager Moses Kimball / R.M. Field
1st Production September 4, 1843
Major Productions
Joseph Haworth Appearances  
Demolished Closed in 1893
Interesting Facts

Conceived by Moses Kimball, who has purchased the old New England Museum, it was opened on June 14, 1841. Its stock company gave its first performance on September 4, 1843, and thereafter remained one of the nation's finest ensembles. Its favorite performers were William Warren, who first acted there in 1847, and Mrs. J.R. Vincent, but at one time or another in its long career many great artist of the era appeared, either as member of the troupe or as guest stars. The subterfuge of housing a theatre in a museum was not uncommon, for it allowed many otherwise puritanical people to enjoy, play-going. The theatre closed in 1893.

Joseph Haworth & The Boston Museum

After four years with John Ellsler’s company in Cleveland, Ohio, Joseph Haworth was offered a twenty-week tour playing Laertes opposite Edwin Booth’s "Hamlet." Joe turned down Mr. Booth, and instead joined the Boston Museum Company as its leading juvenile. It was a brilliant decision. Joe’s years in Boston developed him into an actor of unequaled range, and provided him with a home base audience that he could return to year after year.

Joe had a growing reputation when manager R. F. Field hired him for the Museum. Official news releases touted a bright young talent out of the west who was arriving to strengthen the Museum’s acting ensemble. His September 7, 1877 debut was as Count Henri de Beausolet in Satin in Paris. Joe then did five seasons of rigorous and frequently changing repertory, playing leading roles in every piece produced. He played in new commercial comedies and dramas including Dion Boucicault’s The Shaughraun and Lester Wallack’s Rosedale. He also acted in the beloved "old comedies" such as School for Scandal, in which he played Joseph Surface, and She Stoops to Conquer, in which he played Hastings. Joe gained experience performing in romantic costume dramas such as Ruy Blas and Guy Mannering, and melodramas like The Marble Heart and The Two Orphans. For all four seasons, Joe shared the stage with the comic genius of William Warren, and the Museum’s versatile leading man Charles Barron.

Joe also had great success in the theatre’s comic opera productions. The Museum staged the American premiers of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore (1879) and Patience (1881). The sophisticated satire of these works was new territory for Boston audiences who were more accustomed conventional operettas like The Little Duke. Kate Ryan in her book "Old Boston Museum Days" wrote: "Everyone about the theatre was somewhat doubtful as to the success of Pinafore. Even Mr. Field was uncertain about the outcome till the song ‘He is an Englishman,’ sung by Joseph Haworth, took the audience by storm and received encore after encore. Joseph Haworth played the part of Bill Bobstay and added greatly to the success of the opera." As Grosvenor in Patience, it was said that Joe danced and sang with as much ease and abandon as though he had been reared in a burlesque company.

But Joe’s primary ambition was to play the great classical parts. For his benefit performance on February 12, 1881, he selected the role of Romeo opposite ingénue Nora Bartlett. In his final 1882 season, he played Iago opposite Charles Barron’s Othello, and Romeo opposite Mary Anderson’s Juliet. The latter production set a Boston box office record for a single night’s gross receipts. It was Haworth’s driving ambition in the classics that led him to decline the Museum’s 1882 offer to make him leading man, instead joining forces with the great Irish tragedian John McCullough. Joe made a notable return to the Boston Museum in November of 1896, appearing in his New York success Sue. In subsequent appearances at other Boston playhouses, he was often billed as "Boston’s Favorite Actor."

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