The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963

Plays and Players at Pillot's Opera House

be dignified by that Elizabethan term, Sam Houston is in com-
mand of the Alamo at the time of the siege, and as commander
utters Travis's immortal words, "I shall never surrender or re-
treat." In addition, General Sam is otherwise represented in
the border drama as a regular Bombastes Furioso. Wallick, who
assumed the part of the General, added another incongruity by
dressing the part in his Bob Taylor, Cattle King, get-up. The big
moment of the play came when General Houston, mounted on
the charger, "Texas," routed General Cos, up on "Raider," in a
broadsword duel. W. Miller Farnum, later fairly well known as
William Farnum in the movies, essayed the role of the Mexican
general.
On the nineteenth century stage both in Britain and in Amer-
ica, the machinist often found freer play for the exercise of his
craft than the playwright did for his art. Within the old weather-
beaten shell of a building, known in its last days as Pillot's Opera
House, Houston playgoers witnessed the marvels and splendors of
the same melodramas and "sensations" that had thrilled theatre
patrons in London and New York. The stage at Pillot's was
cramped and the mechanical "facilities" meagre, but producers
somehow "put up" their plays and showed, if only for a one-night
stand. Drama enthusiasts of the city tolerated what was set before
them-or journeyed with friends from the interior to Galveston,
where the commodious stage of the Tremont allowed player and
machinist ample room to ply art and artifice.
The season of 1888-1889 was as profitable as some of the best
in the annals of the Pillot Opera House. Several reputable players
came-Minnie Maddern, Madame Janauschek, Lotta, and W. J.
Florence-with a generous sprinkling of "tank" and railroad sensa-
tions, including William A. Brady's revival of After Dark, with
old Tom's rescue of heroine Eliza from a simulated river of eighty
tons of real water. After a full calendar of bookings in March,
the season ended on April 4. At that time manager Ed Bergman
took his yearly benefit. Myra Goodwin, a minor actress of the
period, appeared in a piece called Sis. This was the last dramatic
performance given in Pillot's Opera House. A month later, almost
to a day, a fire levelled the venerable theatre to the ground.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed July 31, 2014.