Adapted from the City Theater website at http://citytheater.org - The opera house opened in October 1860 with a play depicting slavery in the Southern states – appropriate on the eve of the Civil War. An era of theatrical history began for the city of Biddeford. Edwin Booth, Joseph Jefferson, and Pat Rooney appeared over the years before appreciative audiences.
Dramatic performances by stage immortals like the Barrymores, along with minstrel shows, community pageants and plays were popular offerings. Local director and actor J.J. Salvas entertained audiences with his portrayal of various characters. Illustrated songs were also well-liked. One such performance ended tragically and remains a part of City Theater’s folklore. On Halloween Eve, 1904 singer Eva Gray collapsed and died after her third encore of the song “Goodbye, Little Girl, Goodbye”. The beautiful 33 year old died backstage from heart failure with her 3 year old daughter present. Many since have referred to Eva as the theater’s resident “ghost”.