Thomas Wallace Keene


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Bowery Theatre

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(1840–98), actor. A huge, florid performer long more popular in small towns than in New York or other major theatre centers, he spent his early career in such playhouses as the Bowery, when it was turning to melodrama, and Wood's, under Edward Eddy. There he learned the emotive, scene-chewing style of acting he was never fully to abandon. Although Keene played in support of such great actors as J. H. Hackett and Edwin Booth, he seems to have profited little from them. His Richard III was much admired in the backwaters, but his repertory consisted largely of tried-and-true melodramas, such as Across the Continent, Drink (L'Assommoir), The French Spy, and Ten Nights in a Barroom.

From The Oxford Companion to American Theatre in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Theatre.

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