Performances at Richmond's Theatre Royale: 15th June 1765

This is part of a local history note on performances at Richmond's Theatre Royale. See the start of this local history note.

Opening production

Date: 15th June 1765

Plays:

  • Isaac Bickerstaffe, music by various composers, Love in a Village
  • William Wycherley, with alterations, The Country Wife

The Company included:

Charles Dibdin (1745 to 1814)

Charles Dibdin was an actor, dramatist and song-writer. In the latter capacity he wrote ballads of ships and sailors (such as Tom Bowling and The Lass that loved a Sailor) which were said to have "brought more men into the Navy in war than all the press gangs could." He also wrote ballad operas, The Waterman, for example, and composed music for many plays. He quarrelled constantly with his managers, including Garrick whom he satirized in a puppet play called The Comic Mirror. As an actor he preferred light opera to straight comedy and between 1788 and 1793 specialised in solo entertainments, in which he played, sang and recited monologues. The dramatist John O’Keeffe described these performances thus: "He ran sprightly, and with nearly a laughing face, like a friend who enters hastily to impart to you some good news…A few lines of speaking happily introduced his admirable songs, full of wit and character, and his peculiar mode of singing then surpassed all I have ever heard."

John Fawcett (died 1793)

John Fawcett was the father of the more celebrated actor John Fawcett (1768 to 1837). The elder Fawcett played at Drury Lane and in Dublin and appeared on several occasions at the Theatre Royal, Richmond.

James Love (1722 to 1774)

James Love was the stage name assumed by James Dance, the first manager and probable founder of the Theatre Royal. He was the son of George Dance, the architect and city surveyor and the brother of George Dance the younger who followed the same profession as his father. It seems likely that both father and son were concerned with the building of the Richmond theatre. Dorothy Stroud’s biography of the younger George admits that "references to the building are vague and two of them, while agreeing as to sponsors, differ as to the name of the designer. A third gives it to Garrick and it is evident that there was a good deal of confusion as to the various participants." Love wrote various pieces for the stage, the earliest being Pamela (1742). He performed in Dublin and Edinburgh and was for some years a manager in the latter. In 1762 he was invited to Drury Lane Theatre, retaining a connection with that place for the rest of his life. His best characterisation is said to have been that of Shakespeare’s Falstaff.

John Hayman Packer (1730 to 1806)

Packer was originally a saddler by trade. He joined the Drury Lane company under Garrick and in 1759 created the part of Freeman in Townley’s High Life Below Stairs. He was generally allocated subsidiary roles and, in later life (according to the Dictionary of National Biography) played ‘as a rule, old men in tragedy and sentimental comedy.’

William Smith (1730? to 1819)

William Smith was nicknamed "Gentleman" Smith. After being coached by the actor Spranger Barry, he made his first appearance at Covent Garden in January 1753 in the title role of Lee’s Theodosius. His first appearance at Drury Lane was made in September 1774 when he played Richard III. Some 6 months previously he had publicly announced his intention to retire and devote himself to fox-hunting (his favourite pastime) and other country pursuits. His actual retirement, however, did not occur until 1788. Partly because of his looks and his bearing, he was fortunate in being given leading parts throughout his career. He always asserted that he never blackened his face, never played in a farce and never ascended through a trap-door.

Updated: 3 August 2009