Charles Bannister

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Charles Bannister as Polly Peachum

Charles Bannister (1738–1804) was an English actor and singer.

He was born in Gloucestershire, and after some amateur and provincial experience made his first London appearance in 1762 as Will in The Orators at the Haymarket Theatre. Bannister had a fine bass voice, and acquired a reputation as a singer at Ranelagh Gardens and elsewhere, as well as an actor. In 1774 he was the original Tom Tug in Charles Dibdin's The Waterman at its first presentation at the Haymarket.[1]

He was received with such favour that David Garrick engaged him for Drury Lane. He was said to have 'one of the most extensive falsettos ever heard'.[2] Michael Kelly refers to his appearance as Polly in a travesty of The Beggar's Opera at the Little Theatre in the Haymarket, in which he 'gave her tender airs with all the power of his deep and sonorous bass voice.' This was heard with great disgust by the visiting Italian male soprano Ferdinando Mazzanti, who did not realize it was a burlesque production.[3]

Kelly also mentions his 'admirable' appearance as Hecate in a production of Macbeth, 21 March 1794, at the opening of the New Drury Lane Theatre, in a cast led by John Kemble and Mrs Siddons, the Malcolm played by Charles Kemble in his first public appearance in London.[4]

He died on 26 October 1804. There are numerous portraits that hang in the National Portrait Gallery in London of Charles.[5]

His son, John Bannister, was also an actor.


  1. ^ G.H. Davidson, The Songs of Charles Dibdin with a memoir by George Hogarth, 2 vols (G.H. Davidson, London 1848), I, pp. xx, xxxiii, 44-45.
  2. ^ H. van Thal, Solo Recital, The Reminiscences of Michael Kelly (abridged), with Bigraphical Index (Folio Society, London 1972), p. 330.
  3. ^ Michael Kelly (with Theodore Hooke), Memoirs (1826), abridged as Solo Recital: The Reminiscences of Michael Kelly ed. H. van Thal (Folio Society, London 1972), p. 230.
  4. ^ Kelly, Memoirs, ed. H. van Thal, p. 200.
  5. ^