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Lewis Hallam

Hallam, Lewis (hălˈəm) [key], c.1714–1756, Anglo-American actor and manager of the first professional theatrical company in the United States. He arrived from England with his company in 1752 and opened at Williamsburg, Va., with Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. In 1753 he built the first theater in New York City, on Nassau St., where he presented Elizabethan and Restoration dramas, farces, and operettas. The company played in Philadelphia, toured the South, and then went to Jamaica, where Hallam died. His widow married David Douglass, and in 1758 they formed the American Company, in which Hallam's son, Lewis Hallam, Jr., c.1740–1808, performed. The younger Hallam excelled in comedy. In 1767 he played in Thomas Godfrey's Prince of Parthia, the first American drama to be produced professionally. On the death of Douglass, Hallam took over the management and subsequently produced (1787) the first American comedy, The Contrast, by Royall Tyler.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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