Wild West


Tickets to the show were $1 at the door. They might be purchased with gold dust or fresh vegetables. The latter form of currency was hard to come by in early Denver, Colorado Territory. The fare put on by Jack Langrishe at the Apollo Hall, which opened in 1861, provided a bit of levity for hardscrabble miners looking to ease the drudgery of their daily toil. The Apollo offered no coarse entertainment. “Colorado’s favorite comedian,” one contemporary newspaper noted, “gives a chaste and superior class of amusement.” Langrishe went on to earn the moniker “Comedian of the Frontier.”

The actor was born in Dublin,. For the next several years Langrishe played with various troupes in theaters in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. In 1849 he married fellow thespian Jeanette Allen, a distant relative of Ethan Allen, Patriot hero of the American Revolutionary War. By 1850 Jack had his own troupe, Langrishe’s Vaudeville Company, and through the ’50s Jack and Jeanette played to houses throughout the Midwest. Over that decade the Langrishes migrated ever westward. Jack set himself apart from other entertainers, as he established his own theaters, either leasing, buying or building one wherever miners discovered rich deposits of ore. These were not bawdy houses but places where men could take their families to view wholesome comedies, melodramas and tragedies. And in observance of the Sabbath their doors never opened on Sunday.

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