Edward Harrigan

Edward Harrigan

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Edward Harrigan was an American actor, playwright, theatre manager, and composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

. Harrigan and Tony Hart formed the first famous collaboration in American musical theatre
Musical theatre
Musical theatre is a form of theatre combining songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The emotional content of the piece – humor, pathos, love, anger – as well as the story itself, is communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an...

.

Life and career


Harrigan was born in New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and of Irish lineage. He made his first acting appearance in San Francisco in 1867, and soon afterwards formed a stage partnership with Tony Hart
Tony Hart (theater)
Tony Hart Tony Hart Tony Hart (born Anthony J. Cannon (July 25, 1855 – November 4, 1891) was an American actor, comedian and singer.He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, and is best known for working with Ned Harrigan, in the late 19th century. Together they became a fixture at the Theatre...

 (1855–1891), whose real name was Anthony Cannon. As "Harrigan and Hart," they had a great success on tour in the presentation of comic types of lower class characters drawn from everyday life on the streets of New York, especially the ethnic neighborhood "militias". Beginning as simple vaudeville
Vaudeville
Vaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill...

 sketches, Harrigan gradually worked these up into plays, with occasional songs, set to popular music by David Braham
David Braham
David Braham was a London-born musical theatre composer most famous for his work with Edward Harrigan and Tony Hart. He is considered as "the American Offenbach".- Early life :...

. The titles of these plays indicate their character, The Mulligan Guards, Squatter Sovereignty, A Leather Patch, The O'Regans.


By 1878, with The Mulligan Guard Picnic, Harrigan & Hart settled down on Broadway and played in seventeen of their shows over the next seven years (until Harrigan and Hart split up). Though still broad and farcical, these shows featured music that was integrated with a more literary story line, together with the dialogue and dance, and the shows began to resemble modern musical comedy
Musical theatre
Musical theatre is a form of theatre combining songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The emotional content of the piece – humor, pathos, love, anger – as well as the story itself, is communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an...

. Harrigan wrote the stories and lyrics, and Braham wrote the music. These shows were very popular especially with New York's immigrant-based lower and middle classes, who were delighted to see themselves comically (but sympathetically) depicted on stage. The action of the plays took place in downtown Manhattan and concerned real-life problems, such as interracial tensions, political corruption, and gang violence, all mixed together with broad, street-smart comedy, puns and ethnic dialects. Harrigan played the politically ambitious Irish saloon owner "Dan Mulligan", and Hart played the African-American washerwoman "Rebecca Allup".

Harrigan married Annie Braham, David's daughter, on November 18, 1876. Their family continued in his footsteps, as son William Harrigan, daughter Nedda Harrigan, and granddaughter Ann Connolly all became Broadway performers. However, Harrigan's habit of hiring relatives soured his partnership with Hart, and they split up in 1885. Hart died at age 36 from complications caused by syphilis. Harrigan ultimately wrote the book and lyrics for more than twenty five Broadway musicals and continued writing and performing until 1893.

Harrigan 'n Hart, a Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

 show featuring songs written by Harrigan and Braham, played at the Longacre Theatre in 1985. It featured Tony award-winning Harry Groener
Harry Groener
Harry Groener is a German-born American actor and dancer, perhaps best known for playing Mayor Wilkins in Buffy the Vampire Slayer .-Early life:...

 as Harrigan and Mark Hamill
Mark Hamill
Mark Richard Hamill is an American actor, voice artist, producer, director, and writer, best known for his role as Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy of Star Wars. More recently, he has received acclaim for his voice work, in such roles as the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, Firelord...

 as Tony Hart. It was nominated for 1985 Tony Award
Tony Award
The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, more commonly known as a Tony Award, recognizes achievement in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in New York City. The awards are given for Broadway...

, Best Book of a Musical, Michael Stewart.

Works

  • 1878: The Mulligan Guard Picnic
  • 1879: The Mulligan Guards' Ball
  • 1880: The Mulligan Guards' Surprise which included the hit song "Whist! The Bogie Man" words by Harrigan and music by David Braham
    David Braham
    David Braham was a London-born musical theatre composer most famous for his work with Edward Harrigan and Tony Hart. He is considered as "the American Offenbach".- Early life :...

    .
  • 1883: The Mulligans' Silver Wedding
  • 1883: Cordelia's Aspirations
  • 1890: Reilly and the Four Hundred

External links


Further reading

  • Kahn, E.J. (1955) The Merry Partners: The Age and Stage of Harrigan and Hart (Random House). Biography of Harrigan and Hart.
  • Moody, Richard. (1980) Ned Harrigan - From Corlear's Hook to Herald Square. (Chicago: Nelson Hall)