Vaudeville was a form of stage entertainment popular in the United States from the mid-19th century to the 1920s. According to Robert W. Snyder’s definitive The Voice of the City: Vaudeville and Popular Culture in New York, the word vaudeville stems from the French voix de ville, describing music and comedy shows in 18th-century France. Unlike plays, opera, ballets, or other relatively focused forms, vaudeville shows were a jumbled mix of “acts” in quick succession. Given that dance, comedy, drama, song, acrobatics, and other novelties appeared in the same show, vaudeville had wide appeal to immigrants and Americans of many social classes. Patrons were presented with a “bill” listing the acts available on each day at each theater. Vaudeville performers were highly mobile, meaning that ...

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