Mr. Bluebeard in America opened at the
Knickerbocker Theater in New York City on January
21, 1903 and closed on May 16, 1903 after 135
performances. The top-most newspaper article
appeared in advance of the premier. the second
one appeared after the opening. A
unenthusiastic review appeared in the New
York Times the day after the premier.
1,500-seat Knickerbocker was located at the corner
of 1396 Broadway & West 38th St. It opened in
in 1893 and the structure was demolished in 1930.
At left a 1903 newspaper
helps define "spectaculars" such as Sleeping
Beauty and Mr. Bluebeard.
McAvoy performed in a half dozen plays 1901-1906. He played the lead role as Mr.
Bluebeard on Broadway. Harry Gillfoil picked up the part when Mr. Bluebeard went
on the road to Chicago. McAvoy was also a composer and lyricist. His tune, “The
Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous,” was composed specifically for Mr. Bluebeard.
It referenced Schlitz beer. The Victor record was produced in Jun, 1903, sung by
tenor, Dan W. Quinn (1859-1904).
The Schlitz brand was in its heydays in the early 1900s. In 1902 it produced
more beer that Pabst and by 1934, Prohibition ended, Schlitz was the top selling
beer. Chicago had a particular fondness for Schlitz beer. When the 1871 fire
destroyed many Chicago breweries, Schlitz was there to fill the demand.
McAvoy was a Gus Hill discovery. Reviews of his performance in Mr. Bluebeard
on Broadway were so poor that he was replaced by Harry Gilfoil when the show
went on the road. He married actress Jessie May Kibbler (b. 1872) in 1890. She
died in 1901, leaving nothing to her husband who was said to have cheated her
out of her earnings held in a joint account. McAvoy stopped performing in 1905
after suffering a stroke that left one side of his body paralyzed. In Nov 1908
fellow performers held a benefit at the Majestic Theatre in new York to raise
money for him. He was said to be crippled. Dan died of heart disease in his home
at 1690 Broadway, Oct 1909.
Burnside lost her life at the Iroquois Theater
teachers Sayre and Gustafson Iroquois Theater victims
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