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Grimaldi's 1817 tour

1817 was the only year in which Grimaldi did not have a contract with Sadler’s Wells Theatre, following failed negotiations for a slight increase in salary. The theatre lost heavily during the year, Grimaldi however prospered. Theatre managers from many cities in England and Scotland tried to engage him as soon as it was known he would be free. Mr. Brunton, acting manager of Birmingham Theatre Royal, booked Grimaldi to appear with his son, J S Grimaldi, in late May – early June. It was his son’s first performance outside London. Joe had trained him and hoped that ‘he would not only support the name of Grimaldi but confer upon it increased popularity’. This was also Grimaldi’s longest engagement in Birmingham. He made a summer tour of England and Scotland, receiving £1,743 for 56 summer shows.

As before he performed scenes and songs from several pantomimes – Don Juan, Mother Goose, Robinson Crusoe. Generally the Theatre Royal showed a mixed programme, music, comedy and tragedy featuring together. Grimaldi’s work appealed to all ages; J A Langford reported: ‘Our local critic says – “it is worthy of remark, that in the hands of this actor, the most humorous sallies never exceed the bounds of the strictest propriety and decorum”.’ The theatre clearly hoped to attract families. On the playbill for Monday 2 June, and again on Wednesday it was announced:

On Thursday, to accommodate the numerous younger Branches of Families who are desirous to see Mr. GRIMALDI and HIS SON, the PANTOMIME will be performed in the first Part of the Evening…’, on Thursday appearing at the top of the playbill ‘as the First Piece'.

It was Grimaldi’s new Comic Pantomime ‘Castles in the Air or, The Clown’s Gambols.’ and was received with ‘the most rapturous Applause’ on Wednesday.

Friday 6 June, his last appearance, was described as ‘Mr Grimaldi’s Benefit’. Overall in Birmingham he received £210 for six nights. He was later booked by Mr. Elliston to return for four more shows in the autumn. For these he was paid a further £150.00.

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