vaudeville

vaudeville
/vawd"vil, vohd"-, vaw"deuh-/, n.
1. theatrical entertainment consisting of a number of individual performances, acts, or mixed numbers, as by comedians, singers, dancers, acrobats, and magicians. Cf. variety (def. 9).
2. a theatrical piece of light or amusing character, interspersed with songs and dances.
3. a satirical cabaret song.
[1730-40; < F, shortened alter. of MF chanson du vau de Vire song of the VALE1 of Vire, a valley of Calvados, France, noted for satirical folksongs]

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Light entertainment popular in the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

It consisted of 10–15 unrelated acts featuring magicians, acrobats, comedians, trained animals, singers, and dancers. The form developed from the coarse variety shows held in beer halls for a primarily male audience. Tony Pastor established a successful "clean variety show" at his New York City theatre in 1881 and influenced other managers to follow suit. By 1900 chains of vaudeville theatres around the country included Martin Beck's Orpheum Circuit, of which New York's Palace Theatre was the most famous (1913–32). Among the many entertainers who began in vaudeville were Mae West, W.C. Fields, Will Rogers, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, Milton Berle, and Bob Hope. See also music hall and variety theatre.

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      a farce with music. In the United States the term connotes a light entertainment popular from the mid-1890s until the early 1930s that consisted of 10 to 15 individual unrelated acts, featuring magicians, acrobats, comedians, trained animals, jugglers, singers, and dancers. It is the counterpart of the music hall and variety in England.

      The term vaudeville, adopted in the United States from the Parisian boulevard theatre, is probably a corruption of vaux-de-vire, satirical songs in couplets, sung to popular airs in the 15th century in the Val-de-Vire (Vau-de-Vire), Normandy, France. It passed into theatrical usage in the early 18th century to describe a device employed by professional actors to circumvent the dramatic monopoly held by the Comédie-Française. Forbidden to perform legitimate drama, they presented their plays in pantomime, interpreting the action with lyrics and choruses set to popular tunes. It eventually developed into a form of light musical drama, with spoken dialogue interspersed with songs, that was popular throughout Europe.

      In the United States the development of variety entertainment was encouraged in frontier settlements as well as in the widely scattered urban centres. In the 1850s and 1860s straight variety grew in popular favour. Held in beer halls, the coarse and sometimes obscene shows were aimed toward a primarily male audience. Tony Pastor (Pastor, Tony), a ballad and minstrel singer, is credited both with giving the first performance of what came to be called vaudeville by the late 19th century and with making it respectable. In 1881 he established a theatre in New York City dedicated to the “straight, clean variety show.” His unexpected success encouraged other managers to follow his example. By the 1890s vaudeville was family entertainment and exhibited high standards of performance.

      Many future stars were developed under the vaudeville system—e.g., W.C. Fields, juggler and comedian; Will Rogers, cowboy and comic; the famous “American Beauty,” Lillian Russell; Charlie Case, monologuist; and Joe Jackson, pantomimist. European music hall artists such as Sir Harry Lauder, Albert Chevalier, and Yvette Guilbert also appeared in vaudeville in the United States.

      By the end of the 19th century the era of the vaudeville chain, a group of houses controlled by a single manager, was firmly established. The largest chains were United Booking Office, with 400 theatres in the East and Midwest, and Martin Beck's Orpheum Circuit, which controlled houses from Chicago to California. Beck also built the Palace Theatre in New York, which from 1913 to 1932 was the outstanding vaudeville house in the United States. In 1896 motion pictures were introduced into vaudeville shows as added attractions and to clear the house between shows. They gradually preempted more and more performing time until, after the advent of the “talkies” about 1927, the customary bill featured a full-length motion picture with “added acts” of vaudeville. The great financial depression of the 1930s and the growth of radio and later of television contributed to the rapid decline of vaudeville and to its virtual disappearance after World War II.

Additional Reading
Robert W. Snyder, The Voice of the City: Vaudeville and Popular Culture in New York (1989); M. Alison Kibler, Rank Ladies: Gender and Cultural Hierarchy in American Vaudeville (1999).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • VAUDEVILLE — A l’origine, au XVe siècle, le vaudeville, ou vaudevire, du nom du lieu où il a pris naissance, est une chanson gaie et maligne. Jusqu’à la fin du XVIIIe siècle, moment où il se fond avec le courant de la chanson française, le vaudeville se… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Vaudeville — was a genre of variety entertainment prevalent on the stage in the United States and Canada, from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. This pop culture genre developed from many sources, including the concert saloon, minstrelsy, freak shows,… …   Wikipedia

  • Vaudeville — Vaude ville, n. [F., fr. Vau de vire, a village in Normandy, where Olivier Basselin, at the end of the 14th century, composed such songs.] [Written also {vaudevil}.] [1913 Webster] 1. A kind of song of a lively character, frequently embodying a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Vaudéville — Vaudéville …   Wikipedia Español

  • Vaudeville — (fr. spr. Wohdwihl), eine Gattung des französischen Liedes, welches durch den Mund des Volkes geht, mehre Couplets (Strophen) hat, oft satirischen Inhalts ist u. sich meist auf ein komisches Tagesereignis eine lächerliche Sitte der Zeit, auf eine …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Vaudeville — Vaudeville. Olivier Basselin, ein Walker in der Normandie, im Anfange des 15. Jahrh, pflegte launige Lieder zu dichten und sie, während er sein Tuch in die Rahmen spannte, in den Vaux oder Thälern an den Ufern des Flusses Vire zu singen. Diese,… …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • vaudeville — 1739, light, popular song, especially one sung on the stage, from Fr. vaudeville, alteration (by influence of ville town ) of M.Fr. vaudevire, said to be from (chanson du) Vau de Vire (song of the) valley of Vire, in the Calvados region of… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Vaudéville — is a village and commune in the Vosges département of northeastern France.ee also*Communes of the Vosges department …   Wikipedia

  • Vaudeville — (franz., spr. wo d wil ), bei Boileau noch im Sinne von »satirisches Lied«, seit Anfang des 18. Jahrh. Gattung von Schauspielen mit Gesang und Instrumentalbegleitung, die ihren Namen von den leichtfertigen Liedern (Gassenhauern) ableitete, die… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Vaudeville — (spr. wod wíl), ursprünglich franz. Volkslied satir. Inhalts (s. Basselin); jetzt ein heiteres Bühnenstück mit eingelegten Couplets …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Vaudeville — (wodwil), soll seinen Namen von seinem Entstehungsorte Vau de Vire in der Normandie haben, Luftspiel mit eingelegten Liedern, gewöhnlich nach bekannten Melodien, dient zur augenblicklichen Unterhaltung durch komische Situationen, witzige Einfälle …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon