Guilded Age Vaudville

Topics: Vaudeville, Theatre, Orpheum Circuit, Inc. Pages: 3 (928 words) Published: January 27, 2013
Vaudeville was a form of entertainment during the Gilded Age in America which revolved around traveling theatrical acts that included classical musicians, dancers, comedians, trained animals, magicians, female and male impersonators, acrobats, illustrated songs, jugglers, and one-act plays or scenes from plays. Vaudeville began in a formal matter in the mid 1880’s, but evolved from saloon concerts, burlesque, minstrelsy (skits and musical performances mocking blacks), freak shows, and dime museums (centers for entertainment and moral education for the working class). These shows were technically informal vaudeville, although it did not have the name vaudeville at the time. Early workings of vaudeville were thought of as risqué and unsuitable for families and woman. So beginning in the early 1880’s a man named Tony Pastor, a circus ringmaster turned theatre manager, capitalized on changing these acts to feature “polite” variety programs in several of New York’s theaters. The official date given to the birth of actual Vaudeville is October 24th, 1881 at New York’s Fourteenth Street Theater, where Pastor staged the first “clean” vaudeville in New York City. This changed the image of vaudeville, trying to become more family friendly and gain a female audience. In Pastor’s theater he banned liquor, eliminated raunchy material from shows, and even gave audience members gifts such as food or coal. Vaudeville theaters began to open up across the country and Canada. These theaters would book acts and form chains that would run on a circuit which were managed and actually became a big economic success. Circuits such as those by Keith Albee turned vaudeville into a major economic innovation by enabling a chain of allied vaudeville houses to have contracting acts for regional and national tours that could easily be lengthened or shortened. Albee also followed after Pastor and stuck to his plan for “polite” entertainment. A commitment to entertainment that was equally...
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