When the railroad made overland travel relatively simple, professional theatre followed close behind.In Dallas, the Opera House opened six months after the railroad came to town (20, p. These companies, as well as the rise in amateur performances, created a need for opera houses, many built for touring companies that made one-night stands.
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Texas independence had not long been won when formal theatre began establishing a toehold in the new republic.
Earlier accounts are documented of theatrical activities among the Mexicans in the war camps of both sides, but organized theatre first appeared in the spring of 1837, when G. Lyons attempted to bring a dramatic company to Houston, Texas. Charles Theatre in New Orleans and had had wide experience in the theatres of the United States.
However, nothing came of the proposal, and the project was dropped (29, p. The next year the project was revived and Houstonians eagerly looked forward to the introduction of the drama.
On May 26, the Telegraph and Texas Register announced a company from the states was on its way to Texas to occupy the theatre newly-built by John Carlos.
On June 11, 1838, the new theatre formally opened with a presentation of Sheridan Knowles' celebrated comedy "The Hunchback," followed by the farce "The Dumb Belle." This was the heyday of the traveling stock company, and many different companies made Houston a regular stopping place, for by 1839 it had become the principal theatre center of Texas (29, p. In 1845 Joseph Jefferson, appearing with his parents, became one of the first of many famous actors to find his way to Texas.
Any kind of mind reader was always a good drawing card, as were the particularly popular elocutionists.