Davy Crockett (play)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Davy Crockett, or Be Sure You're Right, Then Go Ahead
Written byFrank Murdoch
Date premiered1872 / Broadway June 1873
Genremelodrama, frontier drama
SettingAmerican frontier

Davy Crockett, or Be Sure You're Right, Then Go Ahead is an 1872 American play which became very popular in its time, inspired by the frontiersman of the same name.

It was written by Frank Murdoch, and the lead role was played by Frank M. Mayo.[1][2]


Crockett arrives at his home in the woods and learns that "Little Nell" (properly named Eleanor Vaughn), his childhood love interest, has returned from abroad, along with her guardian and fiancé. As that group travels to their intended destination at the fiancé's uncle's estate, Crockett offers shelter in hunting hut.[3] The play's most memorable scene has Crockett use his arm to bar the hut's door against howling wolves.[4] The uncle is later revealed to be evil and forcing the marriage, so Crockett is able to marry Eleanor.[3]

Though often cited as a prominent example of a frontier drama, the play is more of a standard melodrama set in a frontier location.[3][5]


The play has been called "one of the most revered plays of the nineteenth-century American theatre."[6][7] However, its initial critical reviews were negative, though it came to achieve great success.[8] Mayo played Crockett throughout much of the rest of his life, already reaching his 1000th performance of the role by May 1877.[6][9] Though it proved impossible, Mayo did try to break free of being typecast as Crockett. He once lamented that a man had approached him and asked "I don't suppose you'll ever play anything else but Mayo, Mr. Crockett?"[10] Even Mayo's son had success playing the role.[11][12]

The play's popularity was as a touring production, but it first played on Broadway in June 1873 at Wood's Museum Theatre for 12 performances. It also played at Niblo's Garden in March 1874.[13][14][15]

The 1916 silent film of the same name credits Murdoch as the writer.


  1. ^ (June 1896). Frank Mayo, The Opera Glass, vol. 3, no. 6, pp. 101-04
  2. ^ (28 November 1872). Amusements - Academy of Music, New Orleans Republican (noting that Mayo would perform Crockett that week)
  3. ^ a b c Bordman, Gerald & Thomas S. Hischak. The Oxford Companion to American Theatre, pp. 168-69 (3d ed. 2004)
  4. ^ (25 April 1955). U.S. again is subdued by Davy, LIFE, pp. 27-33
  5. ^ (25 October 1893). Amusements - Davy Crockett, Lewistown Evening Journal
  6. ^ a b Hall, Roger A. Performing the American Frontier, 1870-1906, pp. 67-75 (2001)
  7. ^ Goldberg, Isaac et al. Davy Crockett and Other Plays, Vol 4 , p. xviii (1940) ("probably the best-known of the American frontier melodramas")
  8. ^ (16 June 1896). Mayo and the Border Drama, The New York Times (noting that it was said that critical reviews killed Murdoch, though in fact he was in frail health)
  9. ^ (5 January 1890). A Talk With Mayo, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
  10. ^ (June 1906). Frank Mayo - Man and Artist, The Theatre, Vol. 6, No. 64, pp. 149-51
  11. ^ Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events, p. 490 (1901)
  12. ^ (13 Feb 1892). Frank Mayo as Davy Crockett, Lewistown Evening Journal
  13. ^ Hischak, Thomas S. Broadway Plays and Musicals, p. 106 (2009)
  14. ^ Hutton Laurence. Curiosities of the American Stage, pp. 32-35 (1891) (noting that press reception "was not cordial or kindly", suggesting that Murdoch "literally died of criticism" of the play; also noting that the play "has never been properly appreciated by metropolitan audiences")
  15. ^ (24 March 1875). "Davy Crockett" at the Park, The New York Times