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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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
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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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
“Blue Nursery Scene” from the Ziegfeld Follies of 1931, model by Joseph Urban
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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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)