February 28th Celebrates Vaudeville

Today on Days to Remember we celebrate how on February 28th 1883 the first vaudeville theatre opened.

What exactly is Vaudeville?

Vaudeville is a theatrical genre of variety entertainment.

It was especially popular in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s.

A typical vaudeville performance is made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill. Types of acts have included popular and classical musicians, singers, dancers, comedians, trained animals, magicians, female and male impersonators, acrobats, illustrated songs, jugglers, one-act plays or scenes from plays, athletes, lecturing celebrities, minstrels, and movies.

A vaudeville performer is often referred to as a “vaudevillian”.

Vaudeville developed from many sources, including the concert saloon, minstrelsy, freak shows, dime museums, and literary American burlesque. Called “the heart of American show business,” vaudeville was one of the most popular types of entertainment in North America for several decades.

B. F. Keith took the next step, starting in Boston, where he built an empire of theatres and brought vaudeville to the US and Canada, by opening the first vaudeville theater in Boston on February 28th, 1883.

Today’s YouTube presentation brought to you by user name (nemouser) gives you an idea of the vaudeville show as Judy Garland and Fred Astaire sing and dance there where on the stage, singing the vaudeville melody.

Vaudeville today was the start for many shows of today such as American Idol, and The Voice.

Where did the name ‘vaudeville’ come from?

The origins of vaudeville’s name is elusive, some theorize that the term comes from the French phrase “voix de ville,” which means “songs of the town.”

Others suggest it was named for satirical songs, “vaux de vire,” written in the 1400s by Oliver Basselin.

Some suggest “vaudeville” was so named because the term sounded foreign and exotic — and therefore most attractive to the growing middle class of post-Civil War America.

One thing is certain. Vaudeville was a step up in class from the working-class entertainment from which it sprung, including burlesque, which reveled in lewd jokes and wiggling striptease acts, and minstrel, variety shows featuring white people performing in “blackface,” a makeup similar to shoe polish.

As we celebrate today on February 28th 1883 the first vaudeville theatre opened in Boston.

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell


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