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Vaudeville: The Heart Of American Entertainment

1039 words - 5 pages

Vaudeville: The Heart of Entertainment
The 19th century was a mark of new things to come about in different countries, these new things were music, theater, and other forms of entertainment. Because of the many wars fought during this time there was much depression and people needed a relief. We all know theater has been around for many decades, but it really started to scatter during this time, people needed entertainment and something to look forward to. Of course, music halls and minstrel shows were present but there was nothing that contained both of the features that these theaters had, and then came about vaudeville. Vaudeville highlighted many famous people’s careers and even helped started many of these stars’ careers. It grew as years progressed and became a loved entertainment for many years to come. Vaudevilles’ creation was the start of our current forms of entertainment and is the heart of the American entertainment industry in the 19th century.
Before vaudeville even got its name it was called variety shows in previous years. Variety shows had been around for a long time but as years progressed it became more diverse and had more acts included in it. Tony Pastor (known as the father of vaudeville) was one of the men credited for these variety shows. In 1881 Pastor established a variety theater in New York (“Vaudeville”). He had many different acts performed in his theaters, especially for family entertainment. He focused on very high standards of performance for his audience soon many other managers saw his success and followed his example (“Vaudeville”). Scholars disagree to who introduced the term vaudeville but John W. Ransome and Benjamin Franklin Keith are two men who started using this term in the 1800s (Carson ; USAD 74). Keith followed after Pastor’s example and made many vaudeville establishments in several different cities (Kibier). Keith and his business partner opened dime museums and expanded their performances to include singing and animal acts (Carson).
Not too long after vaudeville was introduced to different parts of the world the theaters started filling up with audiences. Everyone loved this entertainment and it was always something new to expect. Even theater managers turned concert saloons and museums into vaudeville establishments (Kibier).
Performances had long series of acts or “turns” by many different entertainers (USAD 74-75). There were as many as 10,000 acts across the country in theaters and several performances a day (Vaudeville 1910). At large theaters performers were to perform acts twice a day, in small theaters there were as many as six shows a day (Vaudeville 1910). Many dance styles were presented, they could range from serious to comic dances (USAD 75). There were musical entertainers and many other acts such as ventriloquists, circus acts, black face comedians, magicians, jugglers, cyclists, and dog acts (USAD 75). Usually during that time performances were limited to men but women took...

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