Wanted: "100 octoroons, 100 quadroons, 100 mulattoes, and 100 decidedly black men,
women, and children capable of singing slave choruses." That's how Jarrett & Palmer
began casting their 1878 production of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Henry Jarrett and
Harry Palmer were impresarios who had scored a huge theatrical hit in 1866 with The
Black Crook. By 1878 they were thinking about quitting show business when the
revival of UTC's dramatic fortunes gave Palmer an idea. As his obituary put it: "It
occurred to him that slave life, as it existed in the South in ante-war days, had never
been truthfully depicted in Europe, and he resolved to produce 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'
across the water with genuine southern darkies in the
George Fawcett Rowe was hired to write the script, which the producers had "privately
the benefit of the many actors they would employ over the next decade.
Jarrett & Palmer's production opened at their Booth Theatre in New York on 18 February, and after packing in audiences there went on to similar successes in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., then left for England in August. Three different companies mounted Jarrett & Palmer's assault on European audiences simultaneously, taking them by storm in England, Ireland and on the continent until Palmer's death on the road a year later brought the tour to an end. Then, according to Birdoff, the "Jarrett & Palmer UTC Co." continued to perform in the U.S. until the late 1880s.
There are several different kinds of changes indicated by Rowe's text, including
a much more "feminist" Eliza, but the most interesting feature of the script here is
the window it gives us onto how the Aiken text
was adapted in order to allow for the onstage use of the African American performers who
had become a major element in the popularity of the "Tom Shows." The big song-and-dance
scene (in Act IV) actually takes place on Simon Legree's plantation.|
Uncle Tom's Cabin.
OF PROMOTIONAL CARD FOR
THIS VERSION OF UNCLE TOM'S CABIN