What is Vaudeville, Anyway?

We are so excited for our upcoming fundraising event, Fearless Marvels: A Give to the Max Day Revue. Our writers and performers are hard at work putting together a show that is unlike anything we have ever done before. We are combining comedy with mystery with motifs of the early 20th century with sideshow acts into a four-hour variety show. But you might be asking yourself, what is vaudeville theater?

Kazimir the Hungry

Kazimir the Hungry
Photographer unknown

Vaudeville, in its most simple form, is the theatrical art of the variety show. The genre began to gain popularity in the late 1800’s and remained in demand through and beyond The Great War. The acts in a vaudeville show are unique and eclectic, unified only by the bill under which the acts were listed. Acts ranged from slapstick comedy to burlesque and everything in between, including juggling, acrobatics, musical performance, impersonations, trained animals, and strong men, and acts were presented by traveling performers called “vaudevillains.”

The early influencers of vaudeville drew inspiration from freak shows, saloon performances, minstrels, and dime museums, and is often referred to as “the heart of American show business,” which explains the decades of popularity enjoyed by vaudeville performers and producers.

We can’t say for sure which of these types of acts you’ll be able to enjoy at our upcoming show; we don’t want to spoil the surprise. But based on the theme, you won’t want to miss it. Give to the Max Day is November 16th, and we are proud to work with the Historic Mounds Theatre to bring you the show. Join us at 7:00pm and hang around until 11:00pm to help us reach this year’s fundraising goal of $5,000!

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