The History of Vaudeville Theater

The History of Vaudeville Theater

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Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, there was a time in history, when a brand new style of entertainment swept the nation. It changed the very way that Americans would perform in theaters, while illustrating the creativity of people with an eagerness to entertain.
The The development of vaudeville theater had a significant impact on America by providing people of all ages with a new source of entertainment, a new type of music/ theater experience, and symbolized the cultural diversity of early 20th century America.
There really was no need for vaudeville theater, but it was still beneficial to Americans in multiple ways. For the performers, also known as vaudevillians, it was a way to express their creativity and talents with the rest of America. They would travel virtually everywhere and anywhere to entertain others, from small towns to the big New York cities. Not only that, but this was how vaudevillians made their living. It was their way of life, and the things they did would greatly impact not just their success, but their profit
In addition, for the average American, it was a very new and interesting form of entertainment. As vaudeville developed over time, the performers and the audience became much more diverse. In 1881, a man named Tony Pastor created a form of vaudeville that allowed families, including women and children, to enjoy the large variety of acts. Low ticket prices also helped define the audience for vaudeville. Tickets usually topped out between $1 and 75¢, compared to seats to a broadway hit which went for as much as $2.
There was no doubt that a vaudevillians life was often strenuous. In A History of the Musical Vaudeville by John Kenrick, he says “Appearing in vaudeville was no vacation. A successful act toured for forty or more weeks a year, doing ‘one nighters,’ split-weeks or weekly stands depending on a theatre’s size.” There was always a constant demand for new acts, and performances. People put up with the insistent schedules, because even those who were less experienced or skillful, could still make a decent living. For example, in 1919, the average factory worker could earn $1,300 a year. A small-time performer could earn up to $3,150 that same year, doing something that they enjoyed. Any performer with determination, devotion, and passion could make a suitable life for themselves.
Over time, vaudeville theater provided people of all ages with a source of entertainment.

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From local small-town stages, to New York’s Palace Theater, vaudeville become an essential part of every community. Beginning in the 1880’s and throughout the 1920’s, it became the most popular configuration of theater in America, and was home to over 25,000 performers. Vaudeville theater was originally intended for all male audiences, and was generally exceedingly obscenely comical. However, in 1881 a ballad and minstrel singer named Tony Pastor created a variety show that was "unexceptionable entertainment, where heads of families can bring their ladies and children." He understood what theaters needed to be successful, and to prosper.
All in all, vaudeville came to symbolize the cultural diversity of 20th century America. After the Civil War, vaudeville grew into something of its own. Vaudeville artists had come so far, and could claim that their art was no longer the “illegitimate offspring of imperial Britain,” meaning that their performances had developed into something essentially American. In addition, by the end of the 20th century vaudeville continued to become something even more substantial. It represented-and accepted-the diverse ethnic, racial, and class groups that were a part of our country. As America and vaudeville continued to improve, more and more people of color performed and attended vaudeville shows.
To sum things up, there is no doubt that vaudeville theater has had a significant impact on America’s history. It was the highlight of the early 20th century, changing the way people could experience theater. Cultures intertwined within each other, all with one similar passion—to entertain.

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