Legitimate Vaudeville

Jeffrey Magee

in Irving Berlin's American Musical Theater

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780195398267
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933358 | DOI:

Series: Broadway Legacies

                   Legitimate Vaudeville

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Berlin’s first two Broadway shows reflected his belief in musical comedy as a show of shows that could include a wide variety of styles while serving as a comic mirror of theater and the city that nourished it. Created under the auspices of producer Charles Dillingham, Watch Your Step (1914) and Stop! Look! Listen! (1915) amounted to boisterous, star-studded variety show with a “plot, if any” by the librettist Harry B. Smith. Dillingham’s approach, dubbed here legitimate vaudeville, offered vaudeville stars the prospect of long musical-comedy runs to compensate for a lower weekly paycheck. Audiences flocked to witness an unprecedented gathering of star talent. Critics and audiences alike heard in Berlin’s score the rhythmic vitality and linguistic freshness they associated with ragtime. Several hit songs came from the shows, including “Simple Melody,” “I Love a Piano,” and “The Girl on the Magazine.”

Keywords: musical comedy; vaudeville; Charles Dillingham; Harry B. Smith; genre

Chapter.  15234 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music ; Popular Music

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