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THe Ziegfeld Follies and the Musical Revue

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Introduction to. THe Ziegfeld Follies and the Musical Revue. What’s a revue?. A collections of songs, usually, but not always, connected by some common theme Often used political humor and parodied important shows/people of the time Very popular form from around WWI to the Great Depression.

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what s a revue
What’s a revue?
  • A collections of songs, usually, but not always, connected by some common theme
  • Often used political humor and parodied important shows/people of the time
  • Very popular form from around WWI to the Great Depression
the passing show
The Passing Show
  • Opened in 1894
  • Produced by George Lederer at the Casino Theatre
  • First show to be successfully billed as a review
  • Parodied shows of the past theatrical season
florenz ziegfeld
Florenz Ziegfeld
  • Ran a variety of shows as a teenager
  • Father was the director of musical events for the Chicago World’s Fair 1893
    • Sent to Europe to find classical music acts, but instead found vaudeville acts and nearly bankrupted his father
    • One of the acts was strongman Eugene Sandlow
  • Took Sandow on a two year tour
ziegfeld s early shows
Ziegfeld’s Early shows
  • Promoted Anna Held, whom he fell in love with
  • Developed and revived shows to flatter her
  • Added chorus girls to his 1899 production of Papa’s Wife and 1901 production of The Little Duchess
  • Return program in 1902 featured a line in the program stating: “Owing to the length of the performance the plot has been eliminated
birth of the follies
Birth of the Follies
  • Held convinced her husband to create a revue
  • Financed by Marcus Klaw & A.L. Erlanger
  • First put on in 1907 at the New York Theater’s rundown rooftop garden, renamed the Jardin de Paris
  • Ran for 70 performances, and was the first rooftop show to sellout all summer
  • The 1907 version featured the Anna Held Girls, a line of 50 chorus girls featuring Held
success of the follies
Success of the Follies
  • 1908 featured the first “hit” song in a revue, “Shine on a Harvest Moon”
  • The Jardin was upgraded for the 1909 version of the Follies
  • Hired Bert Williams and Fanny Brice for the 1910 version
  • Renamed the show The Ziegfeld Follies in 1911
  • Moved to the New Amsterdam Theatre in 1913
  • Hired Joseph Urban as set designer, which gave the Follies a distinctive art deco design
  • Ran for 25 editions through 1951
the last follies
The last Follies
  • Last personal edition was in 1931, but waning interest in the revue, and the Great Depression, hurt Ziegfeld’s ability to raise money
    • Ziegfeld continued to spend large amounts of money despite not making it back
  • Ziegfeld passed away in 1932
  • His second wife, Billie Burke, licensed the show to the Schubert’s who put on several editions that became more and more risque
legacy of the follies
Legacy of the Follies
  • Featured several stars of the Broadway stage including:
    • Sophie Tucker (1909)
    • Will Rodgers (1916)
    • Paul Whiteman (1923)
    • Bob Hope (1936)
    • Julie Newmar (1956)
  • Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, and Victor Herbert were composers who wrote for the Follies
  • Ziegfeld first producer/star- Name alone would bring success
  • Last edition, 1957, featured the first rock and roll song on Broadway
other revues
Other Revues
  • The George White Scandals (1919-1939)
    • Most successful revues besides the Follies
    • Music was better: Gershwin’s “Stairway to Paradise” and DeSylva, Henderson, and Brown’s “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries” were hits from the Scandals
  • The Passing Show (1912 to 1924)
    • Revived by the Schubert Brothers, Lee and Jacob
    • Featured underdressed chorus girls and just enough comedy to keep the audience awake
  • The Garrick Gaieties (1925, 1926, 1930)
    • By Richard Rodgers and Moss Hart
    • Written as a two night benefit for the Theatre Guild in NYC
    • Emphasized youth, wit, and parodied shows of the day
decline of revue
Decline of revue
  • Stock Market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression
    • Revue was too expensive to produce compared to running a movie theater
    • Audience tastes shifted towards book musicals
  • Revue shifted radically to poking fun at the labor movement and management
    • Did not do well Uptown
  • Television variety shows became popular
the modern revue
The modern revue
  • Based on time period
    • Tintypes (1980)- Based on Pre WWI music
  • Based on composer
    • By Bernstein (1975)
    • Smokey Joe’s Café (1995)
  • Based on a songwriting team
    • A Grand Night for Singing- All Rodgers and Hammerstein
  • Based on a Theme
    • Songs for a New World (1995)
  • Parody of Broadway
    • Forbidden Broadway (1982 and beyond)
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