The First Vaudeville

po_VaudevilleVaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety entertainment popular in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s.

The first vaudeville theater, opened in Boston, February 28, 1883. Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill. Types of acts 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 burlesque. Called “the heart of American show business,” vaudeville was one of the most popular types of entertainment in North America for several decades.