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Vaudeville

Performance bill for Temple Theatre, Detroit, December 1, 1902

The manager's comments, sent back to the circuit's central office weekly, follow each act's description. The bill illustrates the typical pattern of opening the show with a "dumb" act to allow patrons to find their seats, placing strong acts in second and penultimate positions, and leaving the weakest act for the end, to clear the house.

As well, note that in this bill, as in many vaudeville shows, acts often associated with "lowbrow" or popular entertainment (acrobats, a trained mule) shared a stage with acts more usually regarded as "highbrow" or classical entertainment (opera vocalists, classical musicians).

  • (1) Burt Jordan and Rosa Crouch. "Sensational, grotesque and 'buck' dancers. A good act..."
  • (2) The White Tscherkess Trio. "A man and two women who do a singing turn of the operatic order. They carry special scenery which is very artistic and their costumes are original and neat. Their voices are good and blend exceedingly well. The act goes big with the audience."
  • (3) Sarah Midgely and Gertie Carlisle. "Presenting the sketch 'After School.' ... they are a 'knockout.'"
  • (4) Theodor F. Smith and Jenny St. George-Fuller. "Refined instrumentalists."
  • (5) Milly Capell. "European equestrienne. This is her second week. On account of the very pretty picture that she makes she goes as strong as she did last week."
  • (6) R. J. Jose. "Tenor singer. The very best of them all."
  • (7) The Nelson Family of Acrobats. "This act is composed of three men, two young women, three boys and two small girls. The greatest acrobatic act extant."
  • (8) James Thornton. "Monologist and vocalist. He goes like a cyclone. It is a case of continuous laughter from his entrance to his exit."
  • (9) Burk and Andrus and Their Trained Mule. "This act, if it can be so classed, was closed after the evening performance."
Typical provincial venue on the circuit: "The Opera" in Kirksville, Missouri

Vaudeville (/ˈvɔːdvɪl/; French: [vodvil]) 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, strongmen, 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.



  • (1) Burt Jordan and Rosa Crouch. "Sensational, grotesque and 'buck' dancers. A good act..."
  • (2) The White Tscherkess Trio. "A man and two women who do a singing turn of the operatic order. They carry special scenery which is very artistic and their costumes are original and neat. Their voices are good and blend exceedingly well. The act goes big with the audience."
  • (3) Sarah Midgely and Gertie Carlisle. "Presenting the sketch 'After School.' ... they are a 'knockout.'"
  • (4) Theodor F. Smith and Jenny St. George-Fuller. "Refined instrumentalists."
  • (5) Milly Capell. "European equestrienne. This is her second week. On account of the very pretty picture that she makes she goes as strong as she did last week."
  • (6) R. J. Jose. "Tenor singer. The very best of them all."
  • (7) The Nelson Family of Acrobats. "This act is composed of three men, two young women, three boys and two small girls. The greatest acrobatic act extant."
  • (8) James Thornton. "Monologist and vocalist. He goes like a cyclone. It is a case of continuous laughter from his entrance to his exit."
  • (9) Burk and Andrus and Their Trained Mule. "This act, if it can be so classed, was closed after the evening performance."
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Wikipedia

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