Everything, All at Once, Part 1: The Rise and Fall of the Spectacular Revue

Each year, tens of millions of television viewers are witness to perhaps the most expensive twelve minutes of pop music of the calendar year, the over-the-top spectacle known as the Super Bowl Halftime Show. The show, a pop interlude in the biggest sporting event of the American year, is an event which, honestly, has nothing to do with the sport at all; the Halftime Show is a well-advertised pop music product placement in which pop stars perform medleys of their greatest hits, or at least the songs’ first verse or chorus. Naturally, like most cultural events touching the sports industry, corporate sponsorship for the show is conspicuously provided by PepsiCola; its logo prominently featured at the beginning of this year’s show starring Katy Perry, and certainly “no one does big fun better than Katy Perry.”[1] The list of spectacular events which befell the audience’s eyes in 2015 is itself quite impressive. Katy Perry opened by riding a giant animatronic “robocat,”[2] danced on an animated dance floor, then rocked out with a seemingly out-of-place Lenny Kravitz in front of a pyrotechnics display, followed by dancing with back-up performers in beach ball and shark costumes, then hammed it up with Missy Elliott, and concluded with Katy Perry performing on a aerial pedestal fashioned as a shooting star. Taking into consideration a continually changing yet flawless lighting design, a fireworks display, four costume changes and a medley of nine songs, it boggles the mind to think about the amount of work involved to fit the whole show in twelve and a half minutes. It is interesting to note that, as expensive as Super Bowl Halftime Shows are to produce, estimated at $10 Million in 2014,[3] nearly $1 million per minute, there is nothing really musically memorable about them other than their grandiosity; that the entertainment, a collection of songs heard everyday on American radio, is mere background noise in relief to the splashiness happening on stage. Save, Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” during a performance of Justin Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body” during the 2004 Halftime Show. In the 1910s and into the 1920s at the commencement of America’s Jazz Age, the spectacular revue would be its own form of splashy annual entertainment.

The revue is a genre of theatre which has something to see for everyone.[4] Amidst a theatre schedule filled with popular and fantastic operettas, colloquial vaudeville acts and musical comedies, the revue emerged from the 1890s and quickly earned a loyal audience with revues like those of Weber and Fields. However, the revue would transform into a spectacular piece of theatre, designed to pack the most into a performance. With programmes full of skits, songs, topical humour and beautiful showgirls, spectacular revues during the 1910s and the 1920s, would get a more polished, stylized and lavish treatment and became the highlight of the summer theatre schedule. Year after year, the annual revue became a theatrical event with the productions by Florenz Ziegfeld and his Follies and the Shubert brothers’ The Passing Show, some of which are the stuff of fondly remembered Broadway lore. With ticket sales of such variety shows brisk, revues became the newest craze and production trend on Broadway by 1919. By the mid-1920s, composers, producers and even former revue cast members were creating their own spectacular annual shows. However, as the decade progressed, the market for revues became oversaturated with an increasing number of successful revue series and also badly written and produced annuals vying for audience dollars. By the time the Great Depression hit Broadway hard in the early 1930s, talking movies had lured many of the top talent, on stage and off, to Hollywood and theatre producers turned to smaller budgets the era of spectacular revue had ended.

At the turn of the twentieth century, three relatively disparate musical theatrical trends were prominent on the American stage: early forms of musical comedy, the Vaudeville show and the operetta. By the 1890s, minstrel shows that had been popular throughout the nineteenth century, had been considered by urban Americans as old fashioned, and had been in decline in popularity. The Vaudeville show, perhaps the most well remembered style of the era was on the rise. Vaudeville shows had no plot at all; instead the shows featured a variety of entertainment from performers like comedy acts, jugglers and singers performing interpolated pop songs of the day. Vaudeville shows were quick paced, according to Stempel “eight to twelve acts made up a bill, with no act longer than twenty minutes.”[5] Vaudevilles were low budget, colloquial to appeal to the greatest number of paying customers and packaged to tour a national circuit of chain theatres including Big Time Vaudeville’s Keith-Albee or Orpheum circuits or Small Time Vaudeville circuits like the Pantages or the Loew. Musical comedy, on the other hand, had been “a new, vernacular entertainment in America in the early twentieth century”[6] offered shows to audiences with more plot structure and, of course, pop tunes to enjoy. In such shows, it was not necessarily the music that was the focus, but rather the comedy, the characters of which were sometimes caught up in humorous farcical situations or rags-to-riches stories rather than engaged in a storyline prominent in more modern musicals. A notable trend of musical comedy in the early twentieth century, included a number of shows in which the female lead, often the stage star that carried the production to success, is the centre of attention and shows took titles like Sergeant Kitty, My Lady Molly, The Medal and the Maid, The Belle of Newport, Mam’selle Napoleon, Winsome Winnie, The Fisher Maiden, and Peggy from Paris, opening in the autumn of 1903 just to name a few titles of the time. However, in the burgeoning theatre industry developing on Broadway, the most popular form of theatre in Edwardian America was the operetta. A Germanic style of stagecraft, operettas brought elegance to the American stage during the 1890s when “the winds of realism that swept the theatre at the end of the century,”[7] with European-style music and songs, along with foreign and erudite settings. Fanciful titles like A Waltz Dream (1908), The Dollar Princess (1909), The Chocolate Soldier (1909) and The Count of Luxembourg (1912) demonstrate the kind of productions that operettas were during the 1900s. The operettas written by composer Victor Herbert were particularly popular; Herbert had a string of Broadway hits with Babes in Toyland (1903), Madame Modiste (1905) and eventually Sweethearts (1913).[8] By 1905, there had been a full craze for the operetta and in 1907, perhaps the most successful operetta, The Merry Widow opened an impressive run of 416 performances[9] and has subsequently been revived a number of times since, including a 2015 engagement at the Metropolitan Opera.[10] Many theatre producers found that musical audiences, many of whom were of German extraction, desired more upscale entertainment compared to more colloquial American Vaudeville or musical comedy formats[11] and were willing to subsidize productions of Austrian operettas, then pay for more expensive theatre tickets.[12] Throughout the first decades of the twentieth century, all three distinct styles of theatre found their own distinct style and audience.

It is within this theatrical context that the revue debuted on Broadway. The revue, like the operetta, is a genre of stage entertainment steeped in European heritage; while the operetta has Germanic origins, the revue is largely considered a French style of entertainment,[13] a style popular on such famed Parisian stages as the Folies Bergere and the Moulin Rouge. Like vaudeville, revues lack a formal plot but are held together by a theme instead of a narrative. Larry Stempel notes that the revue’s lack of plot was often the element which held the shows together “not so much for its obvious lack of a plot but for its capacity to turn that very fact into an element of cohesion.”[14] Revues blend comedy, songs and skits with topical humour burlesquing everything from pop culture to news events, they also projected a more casual acceptance of sex appeal, particularly of the female form, and featured large numbers of show girls in glamorous costumes. Revues enjoyed early success during the 1890s, especially productions by the comic duo Joe Weber and Lew Fields, who opened their Music Hall on 29th St in Manhattan, just north of the old Tin Pan Alley in 1896. For eight years Weber and Fields produced the “greatest vaudeville names of the era” and included “individual comedy and song-and-dance acts.”[15] Weber and Fields shows featured the biggest stars and relentlessly spoofed contemporary popular culture and theatre culture. Bordman notes that Weber and Fields “had a reputation of displaying the most beautiful line [of chorus girls] in New York.”[16] Weber and Fields revues became popular annual events[17] and their titles reflect the sorts of breezy and extemporaneous entertainment audiences could expect, including Hurly Burly (1898), Whirl-i-Gig (1899), Fiddle-Dee-Dee (1900), Hoity-Toity (1901) and Higgledy-Piggledy (1904). The title of their debut edition in 1896 had been titled Cyranose de Bric-a-Brac, a molestation of the title of that year’s big theatre hit, Cyrano de Bergerac. The 1907 edition spoofed The Merry Widow, titling that year’s instalment The Merry Widow Burlesque. With musical comedies in their infancy and Vaudeville and operettas attracting audiences, the revue was beginning to develop its own style of show at the turn of the twentieth century.

The revue à la Paris would get the star treatment when theatre producer Florenz Ziegfeld debuted his Follies of 1907 and commenced a string of annual spectacular revues reaching into the 1930s. The son of prominent theatre producer, Flo, as he was affectionately known, produced a string of early twentieth century Broadway shows. He constantly straddled the boundaries between financial success and destitution and debt. Some of his productions were successful like A Parlour Match (1897), others, like Mam’selle Napoleon (1903), were utter critical and commercial failures that he nevertheless toured extensively. Ziegfeld also had a calculated mind for business and taste for extravagance and spectacle. Bringing his common law wife, French actress Anna Held, to the United States was even part choreographed spectacle and part business decision. Believing that she could “make a success, with her charms of face and figure, and her quaint French mannerisms,”[18] Ziegfeld eventually hustled together $1500 for her passage and arranged an advertised press event.[19] The trick worked; Anna Held proved to be a name that could carry a Ziegfeld show, whether successful or not. The idea to launch an annual revue, was not Flo’s, but rather Anna’s, since she “knew what drew audiences and she knew the sort of dazzling, mindless spectacle at which her husband excelled.”[20] The new show, Follies, would debut at the beginning of summer on the New Amsterdam’s rooftop theatre, the Jardin de Paris, home to the annual Follies for the next four seasons. Although the theatre’s glass roof enhanced the summer heat and leaked when it rained, the theatre and the Follies became part of the theatrical buzz of that summer with its well advertised and promoted legion of beautiful chorus girls which he called “Anna Held Girls.” The Follies of 1907 liberally burlesqued theatre humour audiences would like have known like the big “theatrical scandal” of the year, a production of Salomé at the Metropolitan Opera.[21] In 1911, the popular theatre hit The Pink Lady was burlesqued in full drag. Year after year, casts grew larger and theatre megastars had been hired including Lillian Lorraine in 1909, Fannie Brice and Bert Williams in 1910, and the Dolly Sisters and Leon Errol in 1911. Though Weber and Fields revues were popular, Ziegfeld’s shows were big in a big way. In 1908, the theme of Adam and Eve was used to tie the show together. Costumes for the Follies were equally as spectacular with actress wearing “things” rather than clothes, including taxicab costumes in 1908 and battleships in 1909. The formula worked, year after year, The Follies attracted theatregoers interested in seeing the spectacular show and had become “phenomenally successful.”[22] Ziegfeld’s model equating revue with stage decadence would be copied dozens of times over the next two decades.

With the buzz and the stage set for the spectacular revue, other theatre producers were looking to tap into the suddenly lucrative market for revue shows. Five blocks away from the New Amsterdam at the newly constructed Winter Garden Theatre, two rival theatre producers, Lee and J.J. Shubert, who “could not ignore the growing success and form of the Follies[23] opened their own annual revue in 1912, The Passing Show. The Shuberts had already succeeded at challenging the hegemony of the reigning figures of the theatre management racket of early Broadway, the Syndicate, and their operation was “a machine that makes dollars.”[24] The idea to open an annual revue at the Winter Garden Theatre had been powered by the intoxicating combination of personal spite and financial ambition; the Shubert Brothers loathed Flo Ziegfeld and everything he did. The Shubert brothers had to fight for their place on Broadway in the tough theatre industry. Led primarily by tyrannical booking agent Lincoln “Honest Abe” Ehrlanger,[25] the theatre trust The Syndicate controlled how theatres get booked and which shows get into which theatres and were vicious when the Shuberts came to Broadway, creating an acrimonious business culture on Broadway.[26] Ziegfeld had been caught in the middle of their dispute, often changing sides as it suited his own interests. After taking money from the Shuberts and then collaborating with Ehrlanger, Ziegfeld’s relationship with the Shuberts officially became acerbic. Ehrlanger and his partner Marc Klaw consequently provided the $13,000 for the first run of the Follies in 1907 and funding for subsequent Follies productions.[27] The Shubert’s first attempt at a competing revue, 1911’s The Revue of Revues, was a flop both commercially and financially, lasting only 55 performances at the Winter Garden.[28] A year later, the Shuberts allocated their resources and produced The Passing Show if 1912, a successful rival to Ziegfeld and his Follies. Opening at the height of a early 1910’s dance craze,[29] The Passing Show included flashier song-and-dance numbers and, of course, a chorus line of beautiful girls brought physically closer to the audience by a ramp.[30] Like The Follies, The Passing Shows featured sumptuous costumes like the 1917 edition in which the chorus girls had been bedecked in mirrors[31] and sets ranging from an ocean liner, a harem and a Ragtime wedding for the 1912 edition to a lavish 1916 show which featured horses on treadmills to simulate a cavalry charge to conclude the first act.[32] The Passing Show relied more heavily on topical humour that burlesqued theatre and pop culture, including the election of 1916 that had been the theme which tied that year’s Passing Show together.[33] The Shuberts hired some of the most famous names on the stage including Henry Fox and Anna Whealdon for the inaugural edition, Marilyn Miller was hired for The Passing Show of 1913 and other names like Harry Carroll, George Gershwin and Frank Fay appearing on the bill throughout The Passing Show’s residency on Broadway. Throughout the remaining 1910s, Ziegfeld and the Shuberts competed by hiring the best set designers, costume designers and year after year, the productions became evermore lavish.

Not to be outdone by competition happening at the Winter Garden, Florenz Ziegfeld continued to build the legend of The Follies, which in 1911, gained the most lucrative commodity, the Ziegfeld name to become The Ziegfeld Follies and “the series continued commercially powerful producing each season’s biggest opening night, a bragfest of celebrities dressed to thrill.”[34] The 1913 edition opened inside the New Amsterdam theatre and entertained audiences with spoofs and lampoons from everything from the Turkey Trot dance craze, to cubist art and the recently opened Panama Canal. The 1914 production of that season had become “better than anything else of its kind on Broadway”[35] wowing theatregoers with numerous set changes and complicated machinery like rotating turntables and conveyer belts for moving set pieces.[36] But the 1915 edition would commence the so-called “golden age” of the Ziegfeld Follies[37] and year after year, artistic development would push production budgets ever higher, including building larger, and more grandiose sets. With Ziegfeld’s brand and “the Ziegfeld touch,” the spectacular revues that have achieved Broadway legend status came to life on stage. The Ziegfeld Follies of 1915 was famous for its blue sets by Joseph Urban which offered simulated visually stunning underwater scenery and effects. With war against Germany looming, the Ziegfeld Follies of 1917 ended with a sweeping patriotic telling of American history since the American Revolution. Cast changes from year to year were frequent enough to keep audiences interested with a combination of familiar and fresh talent. Celebrity stage personalities were added from year to year including W.C. Fields, Will Rogers, Eddie Cantor, Ann Pennington, and Marilyn Miller just to name a few celebrities of the time. Increased budgets, stars, sets and the shows had produced spectacular returns on investment for Ziegfeld. But competition was heating up, with the amount of money both The Passing Show and Ziegfeld Follies were earning throughout their engagements, other producers were eager to establish their own annual revues. Composer George M Cohan, at his own Cohan Theatre in 1916, wrote and presented an annual series comparable to Ziegfeld and the Shuberts, the Cohan Revue, which featured his own brand of stage entertainment. However, The Cohan Revue had little success compared to the Follies or The Passing Show; only one more addition of his show opened in 1918 before going defunct. While Ziegfeld and the Shuberts were trying to produce competing the types of shows which have become legendary productions, other theatre producers were eager to put revues in their theatres.

The trend continued to build; by the end of the 1910s, new revue series were debuting annually. Anti-German sentiment of The First World War had officially stemmed the popularity of Germanic sounding operetta and revues took an increasingly larger segment of the theatre schedule. Along with the Ziegfeld Follies, which took its official motto, “Glorifying the American Girl” in 1922 and the Passing Shows, which continued until 1924, other revues series at other theatres were becoming popular. The Greenwich Village Follies debuted in 1919 at the Greenwich Village Theatre and was so successful downtown that it was rushed to Broadway one year later. Former revue actors were beginning to produce their own revue series as well. Former Follies actor George White debuted his Scandals at the Liberty Theatre in 1919 and his approach was more over-the-top than even Ziegfeld productions, offering more girls and larger song and dance numbers. By 1926, George White’s Scandals became annually popular and that year, ended the theatre season with an impressive 464 performances at the Apollo Theatre.[38] Another veteran of The Follies stage, Earl Carroll, debuted his Vanities in 1923 at the Earl Carroll Theatre and proved to be a popular series. A much bawdier revue which had been “much more of a girlie show than anything else,”[39] the Vanities, featured, albeit muted, female nudity and male comedians, including early appearances of Jack Benny and Milton Berle.[40] Both series were not exactly highbrow entertainment; they were after all, revue shows which focused on theatrical fun and comedy, satirising the general popular culture of theatre of the times and dazzling audiences with dance numbers. Irving Berlin, now in charge of the Music Box Theatre began to compose a differently themed revue The Music Box Revue in 1921, which was more focused on his brand of songs than beautiful girls and satire.[41] Nevertheless, it was a lavish production and a spectacular show with a budget of $190,000[42] and tickets costing a theatre-goer an absurdly high $5. Throughout the 1920s, the annual revue had enough competition for the genre to include other shows on Broadway’s schedule.

However, large numbers of spectacular annual revues filling theatre schedules were unsustainable and by the mid-1920s, the extravagant revue had been in sharp decline. A glut of annual revues early in the decade produced a number of shows without much merit, content or relative success. At the beginning of the 1920s, series featuring years in their titles in anticipation of subsequent annual instalments came and went without success or influence. Revues titled Frivolities of 1920, Broadway Brevities of 1920, Snapshots of 1921, Spice of 1922, Nifties of 1923, Puzzles of 1924 and Fashions of 1924 came and went with each season without following editions. The shows were not scant in budget, and nor was there a lack of talent; the Broadway Brevities of 1920 included top stage talent like Eddie Cantor and Bert Williams, who starred in other lavish revues and Snapshots of 1921 featured actress Nora Bayes and comedian Lew Fields. But star power alone was not enough to carry these shows, Broadway Brevities lasted thirteen weeks with dwindling ticket sales and Snapshots languished at the Slewyn Theatre for only four weeks.[43] The Ziegfeld Follies was not immune to creative stifling, particularly in 1923 when a number of songs and sketches from the previous year had been cobbled together into a show.[44] Other revues which failed to get audience attention were inherently terrible productions. Fashions of 1924 had been called a “poorly assemble fashion show”[45] and Spice of 1922 found its comical zenith with a travesty burlesque of the opera Tosca.[46] 1926 was an especially overheated year with more titles debuting, each revue gaining little audience attention or critical praise; there had been a glut of revues and lack of sustaining talent to feed them. Bunk of 1926 lasted for four weeks, Bad Habits of 1926 closed after 19 performances, Nic Nax of 1926 had habitual set failures, and Bare Facts of 1926 fared better with 107 performances. The Shubert produced Artists and Models series of revues which featured nearly nude models in various tableaux vivants poses was particularly “dull” according to one critic.[47] Larger scale musicals with cohesive and interesting plotlines were coming into fashion, holding audience attention through a captivating narrative like No, No Nannette (1926) and the Ziegfeld-produced musical Show Boat (1927), “the first American musical that integrates the elements of a musical theatre into a credible drama.”[48] The “zappiness” and quick-paced fun revues had run its course. With the spectacular revue taking too much of the theatre schedule and increasing number of bad shows in production, the genre faded at the end of the 1920s as the modern form of musical took the Broadway stage.

Two additional events, the development of talking movies and economic depression, would officially end the spectacular revue’s residency on Broadway. Even though radio had already become an entertainment in which one could, for the first time, enjoy broadcasts and entertainment directly at home, talking movies dealt the largest blow to the lavish stage revue. Stars were leaving for Hollywood as new job opportunities for composing, acting, dancing, producing, and trades related to the stage lured more talent from Broadway across the continent to California, leaving a talent vacuum on the Broadway theatre. The deep economic depression of the 1930s not just ravaged theatre budgets but closed theatres entirely. The mood on Broadway changed to spending on lavish revues to spending as little money as possible to give audiences a form of escapism. [49] Some theatre producers relied on adding strippers to shows to keep men and women from going to movies.[50] There is not a simpler or inexpensive entertainment than nudity after all, and at a burlesque show, “he could laugh. And let me tell you, there was nothing to laugh about in the ‘30s” according to burlesque actress Dixie Evans.[51] An interesting movie trend did develop when theatre veterans left for Hollywood; Hollywood tried to replicate the spectacular revue to the screen for national audiences. John Bush Jones notes that while Broadway spectacular were largely for the local audience in New York, movies could be accessible all across the county to people who may have never seen such lavishly produced shows.[52] But the revue was a genre which seemed to flourish only on stage; Hollywood productions of spectacular revues of the late 1920s and early 1930s were always beset with production and casting problems. One of the most famous examples, The King of Jazz featuring bandleader Paul Whiteman, had spectacular sets and a variety of talent, including animated cartoons. Filming the extravaganza had been repeatedly delayed for weeks, budgets had to be increased and The King of Jazz haemorrhaged cash.[53] Marketing was a problem, since it’s star was a bandleader, albeit a popular one, whose job was to conduct his orchestra, not to sing, act, dance or be entertaining. Florenz Ziegfeld died in 1932 during all of this change. His wife, Billie Burke, then residing in Los Angeles pursuing an acting career to pay off his debts,[54] listened to his funeral via radio.[55] One last production of the Follies happened in 1936, produced by the Shuberts at the Winter Garden Theatre. The collapse of the revue was ahead of tumultuous changes in the economy of theatre on Broadway of which the revue was only a symptom.

Despite being a theatre fad of the 1910s and the 1920, spectacular revues remain part if a fondly remembered era of the Broadway theatre. The trend has all of the earmarks of a fad and yet, people still remember revue shows with a certain amount of awe. Their initial and topical success had captured audience attention, challenges by others to produce and perform in the genre created competition on the stage, then the genre overloaded with anyone wanting to make a buck on the revue and then the annual revue disappeared from the stage when a new popular entertainment in talking movies came into the scene. But there is something quaint about the nostalgia of the revues of the 1910s and 1920s. Revue shows are an example of the sort of escapist entertainment that audiences wanted to see, particularly during the 1920s when the Broadway stage experienced tremendous growth. The spectacular revue also has ties with nostalgia for the ethos and spirit of the Jazz Age in America, the fast-paced and irreverent entertainment that people truly could not get enough of from the stage. I think there is something more obvious about the remembrance for the spectacular revue like Ziegfeld’s Follies or The Passing Show or even the silliness of The Vanities. They will always remain in the past; I doubt that any theatre producer would revive, say, The Ziegfeld Follies of 1915, even replicating the lavish blue set designs of Joseph Urban would undoubtedly sell tickets and get customers in theatre seats. Certainly, the year in the title would look old-fashioned on the theatre marquis. But topical humour had also been incorporated into the fabric of the revue show, which I doubt references to popular shows from a century ago would translate to the stage in the twenty-first century, and so, annual editions of spectacular revues will continue to be fondly remembered stuff of Broadway legend and their place in theatre history cannot be overlooked in this transitional period in American entertainment.


Bordman, Gerald. American Musical Theatre: A Chronicle. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press. 1992

Engel, Lehman. Words with Music: Creating the Broadway Musical Libretto. Updated by Howard Kissel. New York: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. 2006

Eyman, Scott. The Speed of Sound: Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution, 1926-1930. New York: Simon & Schuster. 1997.

Furia, Phillip. Poets of Tin Pan Alley: A History of America’s Great Lyricists. New York: Oxford University Press. 1990.

Golden, Eve. Anna Held and the Birth of Ziegfeld’s Broadway. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky. 2000.

Hayter-Menzie, Grant. Mrs. Ziegfeld: The Public and Private Lives of Billie Burke. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company Inc. 2009.

Jones, John Bush. Our Musicals, Ourselves: A Social History of the American Musical Theatre.  Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England. 2003.

Karp, Hannah. “The Economics Behind the NFL’s Pay-to-Play Super Bowl Pitch. The Wall Street Journal. Corporate Intelligence (blog). 20 August 2014. http://blogs.wsj.com/corporate-intelligence/2014/08/20/the-economics-behind-the-nfls-pay-to-play-super-bowl-pitch/

Kenrick, John. “1890s: Part II.” musicals101.com. Accessed 3 February 2015. http://www.musicals101.com/1890-1900b.htm

Kornhaber, Spencer. “The Terror and Glory of Katy Perry’s Super Bowl Performance.” The Atlantic.com. 2 February 2015. http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/02/katy-perry-at-the-super-bowl/385069/

Lamb, Andrew. 150 Years of Popular Musical Theatre. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 2000.

Magee, Jeffrey. Irving Berlin’s American Musical Theatre. New York: Oxford University Press. 2012.

Marks, Edward B. They All Sang: From Tony Pastor to Rudy Vallée. New York: The Viking Press. 1934.

Mordden, Ethan. Ziegfeld: The Man who Invented Show Business. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 2008.

Pollack, Howard George Gershwin: His Life and Work. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 2006.

“Renée Flemming Stars in Lehár’s Enchanting Operetta.” The Metropolitan Opera. Accessed 5 February 2015. http://season.metopera.org/widow?gclid=CKvWzv-w0cMCFUM1aQodbkIAFw

“Snapshots of 1921.” International Broadway Database. Ibdb.com. http://ibdb.com/production.php?id=9076.

Stempel, Larry. Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theatre. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. 2010.

Swain, Joseph. The Broadway Musical: A Critical and Musical Survey. New York: Oxford University Press. 1990.

Van der Merwe, Ommen. Ann The Ziegfeld Follies: A History in Song. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. 2009.

Vogel, Michelle. Olive Thomas: The Life and Death of a Silent Film Beauty. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc. 2007.

Weber, Lindsey. “Watch Katy Perry’s Halftime Super Bowl Show (Featuring a Ton of Missy Elliott). Vulture.com. 1 February 2015. http://www.vulture.com/2015/02/watch-katy-perrys-halftime-super-bowl-show.html

Zemeckis, Leslie. Behind the Burly Q: The Story of Burlesque in America. New York: Skyhorse Publishing. 2013.

[1] Lindsey Weber, “Watch Katy Perry’s Halftime Super Bowl Show (Featuring a Ton of Missy Elliott), vulture.com, 1 February 2015, http://www.vulture.com/2015/02/watch-katy-perrys-halftime-super-bowl-show.html.

[2] Spencer Kornhaber, “The Terror and Glory of Katy Perry’s Super Bowl Performance,” The Atlantic.com, 2 February 2015, http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/02/katy-perry-at-the-super-bowl/385069/

[3] Hannah Karp, ‘The Economics Behind the NFL’s Pay-to-Play Super Bowl Pitch, The Wall Street Journal, Corporate Intelligence (blog), 20 August 2014, http://blogs.wsj.com/corporate-intelligence/2014/08/20/the-economics-behind-the-nfls-pay-to-play-super-bowl-pitch/

[4] This installment of Pop Song History will actually be a detour into theatre history. Admittedly, this essay will be a discussion about the development and collapse of the spectacular, lavish annual Broadway revue and an examination of the song and ramification will be the topic of the second part.

[5] Larry Stempel, Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theatre, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010), 66.

[6] Ibid, 133.

[7] Ibid, 118.

[8] Lehman Engel, Words with Music: Creating the Broadway Musical Libretto, (New York: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, 2006), 125.

[9] Ibid, 123.

[10] “Renée Flemming Stars in Lehár’s Enchanting Operetta.” The Metropolitan Opera. Accessed 5 February 2015. http://season.metopera.org/widow?gclid=CKvWzv-w0cMCFUM1aQodbkIAFw

[11] Stempel, 118.

[12] Engel, 126.

[13] Ethan Mordden, Ziegfeld: The Man who INvented Show Business, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008), 92.

[14] Stempel, 208.

[15] John Kenrick, “1890s: Part II.” musicals101.com. Accessed 3 February 2015. http://www.musicals101.com/1890-1900b.htm

[16] Gerald Bordman, American Musical Theatre: A Chronicle, 2nd Ed, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 170-1.

[17] Andrew Lamb, 150 Years of Popular Musical Theatre, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000), 147.

[18] Edward B. Marks, They All Sang: From Tony Pastor to Rudy Vallée, (New York: The Viking Press, 1934), 140.

[19] Ibid, 140.

[20] Eve Golden, Anna Held and the Birth of Ziegfeld’s Broadway, (Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 2000), 111.

[21] Marks, 142.

[22] Lamb, 156.

[23] Bordman, 277.

[24] John Bush Jones, Our Musicals, Ourselves: A Social History of the American Musical Theatre, (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2003), 38.

[25] Stempel, 124.

[26] For a more detailed look at the so-called “war of the managers” between The Syndicate and the Shuberts, see Mordden, 66-90.

[27] Mordden, 90

[28] Bordman, 271.

[29] For a look at the dance craze of the early 1910s, see Morgan Howland, “1910s Pop Trend: The Ragtime Dance Craze,” 10 June 2014, Pop Song History (blog), https://popsonghistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/1910s-pop-trend-the-ragtime-dance-craze/

[30] Stempel, 212.

[31] Bordman, 321.

[32] Howard Pollack, George Gershwin: His Life and Work, (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2006), 223.

[33] Bordman, 315

[34] Mordden, 141.

[35] Bordman, 295.

[36] Stempel, 209.

[37] Ann Ommen van der Merwe, The Ziegfeld Follies: A History in Song, (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2009), 52.

[38] Bordman, 412.

[39] Ibid, 402.

[40] Stempel, 214.

[41] Phillip Furia, Poets of Tin Pan Alley: A History of America’s Great Lyricists, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 54.

[42] Jeffery Magee, Irving Berlin’s American Musical Theater, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 104.

[43] “Snapshots of 1921,” International Broadway Database, accessed 5 February 2015, http://ibdb.com/production.php?id=9076

[44] Bordman, 382

[45] Ibid. 380.

[46] Ibid, 372.

[47] Ibid, 460.

[48] Joseph Swain, The Broadway Musical: A Critical and Musical Survey, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 15.

[49] Leslie Zemeckis, Behind the Burly Q: The Story of Burlesque in America, (New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2013), 2.

[50] Ibid, 4.

[51] Dixie Evans qtd in Zemeckis, 7.

[52] Jones, 68.

[53] Scott Eyman, The Speed of Sound: Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution, 1926-1930, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997), 316.

[54] Grant Hayter-Menzies, Mrs. Ziegfeld: The Public and Private Lives of Billie Burke, (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company Inc, 2009), 142.

[55] Ibid, 158.

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About morganhowland

I am a recent college graduate with a degree in American History. I am also a music nerd who likes keeping up with current music and knowing anything about pop songs of the past. Combining the two ambitions into a blog of essays on various topics of popular song history seems like an appropriate thing to do.

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