Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

email signup Blog Video Facebook Twitter Instagram

The Black Crook:

A Preliminary Inventory of the Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: The Black Crook
Title: The Black Crook Collection
Dates: 1853-1929, undated
Extent: 1 document box, 1 oversize box (osb), 1 framed item (2.5 linear feet)
Abstract: From its first performance on September 12, 1866, at Niblo’s Theatre in New York, The Black Crook drew in audiences to become one of the first successful musical spectacles in the United States.
Call Number: Performing Arts Collection PA-00113
Language: English
Access: Open for research
Digitized material is available for this collection. Click here to explore.


Acquisition: Gift, 1956
Processed by: Erin Lawrimore, 2001; Chelsea Weathers, 2013; Grace Hansen, 2016
Repository:

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center


From its first performance on September 12, 1866, at Niblo’s Theatre in New York, The Black Crook drew in audiences to become one of the first successful musical spectacles in the United States. The script from a Faustian melodrama, several songs by assorted composers, and the services of a stranded Parisian ballet troupe were combined with elaborate sets and costumes to create a spectacle that spawned 15 subsequent Broadway revivals and numerous touring productions.
The Black Crook's scandalously dressed dancers, who were the first to perform the Can-Can on an American stage, delighted and shocked audiences. After attending a performance of The Black Crook in New York, Mark Twain, in a March 3, 1868 column in Alta, California, wrote that the musical "debauched many a pure mind."
The Black Crook Collection contains books, a photocopy of an original promptbook from the Harvard Theatre Collection, sheet music, playbills, programs, clippings, drawings, and photographs related to performances of the musical.

The Museum of the City of New York also holds a collection of material relating to The Black Crook.