Show History



With its timeframe set between the half-century after the Civil War and the onset of the Roaring Twenties, the period of Tintypes is one of the most turbulent eras in American history, as well as one of explosive growth: America's population doubled in thirty years, and one-third of the leap came from abroad; the transcontinental railroad and Carnegie Hall were built; electricity and the telephone were introduced to homes; cowboy Theodore Roosevelt became President of the United States; automobiles joined horse-drawn carriages on city streets; and children worked in factories for 25 cents a day. This chamber piece with a cast of five draws from, and was inspired by, this time, providing a musical history lesson that focuses on an exciting and tumultuous period in American history.


Tintypes, conceived by Mary Kyte with Mel Marvin and Gary Pearle, is a musical revue with a blend of the patriotic songs, romantic tunes and ragtime by such artists as George M. Cohan, John Philip Sousa, Joseph E. Howard, Scott Joplin and Victor Herbert, among others.

First developed and premiered at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., in early 1980, Tintypes then went on that year to have a commercial run Off-Broadway at the York Theatre, where it opened on April 17, 1980, and ran for 137 performances through the summer. The revue closed on August 10, 1980, shuttering for an uptown move to Broadway.

On October 23, 1980, after eleven previews, Tintypes then opened on Broadway at the John Golden Theatre, where it ran for 93 performances, closing on January 11, 1981. It was directed by Gary Pearle and choreographed by Mary Kyte, co-conceivers with Mel Marvin. The original cast included Lynne Thigpen, Jerry Zaks, Trey Wilson, Carolyn Mignini and Mary Catherine Wright. Tintypes continues to be an unexpected favorite among audiences and performers alike wherever it is revived; people respond very well to the nuggets of veritably lost national treasures.

Cultural Influence

  • A cast recording from the original Broadway cast of Tintypes was released by DRG on March 31, 1981.
  • A DVD of the original Broadway production of Tintypes was released on March 29, 2005, more than two decades after the production closed.


  • Tintypes was nominated for three Tony Awards in 1981, including Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical, and was also nominated for six Drama Desk Awards that year, including Outstanding Musical.