Daly, Augustin

(1838-1899)
   Born John Augustin Daly, son of a sea captain, the playwright and producer began his theatrical career as a drama critic. His first play, Leah, the Forsaken, adapted from S. H. von Mosenthal's Deborah, scored a success in 1862. Daly had an even greater triumph with his sensationally popular melodrama Under the Gaslight (1867). He began producing plays at the Fifth Avenue Theatre in 1869. He established an innovative repertory company, staging both contemporary and classic works (frequently adapted by Daly) and broke away from the standard lines of business, expecting his performers to play a wide range of characters.
   Daly operated the Fifth Avenue Theatre successfully until the building burned in 1873, but he pressed on in other facilities until he briefly retired in 1877. Back at work in 1879, Daly established an acclaimed company at the Daly Theatre (formerly Woods's Museum) that included the "Big Four," as they became known: Ada Rehan, Mrs. G. H. Gilbert, James Lewis, and John Drew, with William Davidge and Charles Fisher in strong support. Performing every manner of play, from works by Shakespeare and Tennyson to new American plays, including works credited to Daly, as well as popular operettas and musicals, Daly's company dominated the New York theatre in the last two decades of the 19th century. The troupe toured the United States and England frequently, and had three residencies in France and one in Germany.
   Daly is credited with writing as many as 100 plays, mostly adaptations of classics or European plays. It is believed that Daly's brother Joseph, an attorney, was an uncredited coauthor. The most appreciated Daly plays—Frou-Frou (1870), Horizon (1871), Divorce (1871), and Pique (1875)—were staples of his company's repertory. Later Daly successes include Needles and Pins (1880), Dollars and Sense (1883), Love on Crutches (1884), and The Lottery of Love (1888). Daly's most successful Shakespearean production, The Taming of the Shrew, performed at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1888, was billed as the first production of the play there.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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