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MT1 Week1:6

The Arden

Wayne Jackson

on 23 October 2012

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Transcript of MT1 Week1:6

19th Century Onwards Performances Using Music The Decline of Variety Vaudeville Music and Theatre 1897 The Belle of New York (56 Broadway performances)
Brought 63 cast members across
697 performances in London
Created a star out of Edna May, more photographs sold in London than any other actress

Melodrama; Operetta; Comic Operas; Extravaganzas
1881: Tony Pastor billed a ‘clean variety’ on NY’s 14th street
New selection of acts each week
Reserved seats @ 50 cents
All acts held at a rigorous standard of decency
Alcohol was banned from the venues
Attracted audiences of all
classes, ages, sexes
Created three levels of performance: Small Time; Medium Time; Big Time Musical Comedy had loose plots, ordinary people, sight gags and pun-filled dialogue
Crossing the Atlantic Musical Comedy Using original popular-style songs, as opposed to the more ambitious operatic arias, to help dramatise a comic story
1896 The Geisha
Produced by George Edwardes
Coined the term ‘musical comedy’
1878 Mulligan Guard’s Picnic
1880: Majority of Americans lived in large cities
1880 – 1910: Population of New York increased from 1.2m to 4.7m
Large proportion of growing urban audience consisted of factory girls, housewives, female office workers etc
1883: Benjamin Keith and Edward Albee
Presented this clean variety programme several times a day
Vaudeville is French slang for ‘songs of the town’
Clean variety began to spread across the NE states
25,000+ people performed in Vaudeville over its 50+ years
Vaudeville Format Could be almost any length: ideal big time show consisted of around 8 acts in 2.5 hours
The Order:
1) Non-verbal or silent act (Acrobats, animal tricks etc.)
2) Singing sisters or dancing brothers
3) One-act play
4) Novelty act (sword swallower etc.)
5) Rising star act
6) “Big Act” (Choir or orchestra etc.)
7) Headliner
8) Short film or live act (one man band etc.)
Some were created as showcases for hit songs – forming a relationship between theatre and music industries
1891 A Trip to Chinatown (657 performances)
Charles Harris (TPA) 'After the Ball'
Reprised 36 years later in Show Boat
Popularity of the song helped with the show’s run and is still heard today
1886 Erminie (680 performances)
Starred Francis Wilson
Detailed characterisation
His portrayal drew audiences in and helped with the show’s run
Revived as often as Wilson was willing to return (into the 1920’s)
The score had no lasting hits
New York Times: The new burlesque, or extravaganza, is as big and showy, as frank and noisy, as highly colored, glittering, and audacious as the best of its predecessors
The Era (London): Best described as bizarre. It is like nothing we have ever seen here. The music is decidedly above the average of musical play scores … It is the brightest, smartest, and cleverest entertainment of its kind that has been seen in London for a long time
British to American
Black Musical Comedy 1890 – The Creole Show
An all black minstrel troupe introduced roles for women
Played outside of the Broadway theatre district
1898 – A Trip to Coontown (8 performances)
Bob Cole
Saddled with stereotypical portrayal
of black people Musical Comedy 1903 In Dahomey (53 performances)
George Walker and Bert Williams were a popular black vaudevillian act
Will Marion Cook turned their act into a full length musical
Their acts always involved a variation of minstrelsy’s characters
Still packed with the usual stereotypes
Travelled to London the same year (251 performances)
Walker retired due to illness in 1908
Williams embarked on a solo vaudeville career and later moved into mainstream projects
Black Musical Comedy went into decline for more than a decade
White Musical Comedy continued to dominate, creating entertainment designed to please the widest possible audiences
Full transcript