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Distinctive Forms of Late 19th & Early 20th Century American Theater include Traveling Theater, Vaudeville, Tent Shows, Toby Shows and Extravaganzas. This listing includes four books concerned with these particular forms of entertainment. You may choose one or all of these books from the drop down. Please contact me for a custom listing if you choose fewer than all seven books.

(1) Town Hall Tonight in Beaver Dam Wisconsin, by Harlowe R Hoyt 1955, tells the fascinating story of late 19th Century American Theatre, from the perspective of a small Midwest town and including the always spectacular melodrama. Subtitled "Intimate Memories of the Grassroots Days of the American Theatre," this large book measures about 11" x 8-1/4" x 1-1/8" and, including the index, is 292 pages long.
There are 123 illustrations and photographs and the artistic work of Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Ed Kuekes.
Set in Beaver Dam, where the author's grandfather owned the Concert Hall, the book includes quotations from melodramas and excellent descriptions of the pictures provided. Hoyt, dramatic critic for the Cleveland Plain Dealer at the time he wrote this book, had acted in stock companies, worked as an advance man for productions and written scripts for Edison's silent films as well as plays.
This book has been handled well over the years, and shows signs of its age with cover edges bumped, but the binding is solid and there are no marks other than a comment on the flyleaf and the signs that a library sticker has been removed. The colorful dust jacket is another thing: tears and small pieces gone, but the sepia tone and vintage colors and the overall look are a charmingly cottage chic style.

(2) Theatre in a Tent The Development of Provincial Entertainment in America, 1972, by William L. Slout shows how repertoire tent shows traveling across pre-Depression America brought summer entertainment to thousands of rural towns.
From 1900 to about 1930 tent shows became a small industry with more than 100 companies performing mainly melodramas and vaudeville. It was family entertainment! The railroads helped. Tent shows during World War I with vaudeville and melodrama were the most popular form of entertainment in America. Billboard, a magazine, declared that in 1927 over 400 shows played to 78 million people. Uncle Tom's Cabin was as much a standard under canvass as characters such as Toby and Sis.
There are 47 photographs showing both the performers and the problems they faced in their demanding careers which depended almost as much on an ability to adapt as to act.
The book is in good condition, no dust jacket, some shelf wear but firm in binding and without markings. It has 153 pages and measures 6 1/4"x 9 1.4."

(3) The Fabulous Toby and Me, 1968, was written by the best known Toby actor in America, Neil Schaffner. This traditional rube or hayseed or country bumpkin was brightly freckled with red hair. His name was Toby, and this most memorable actor, Neil Schaffner, with the help of Vance Johnson tells his story of a major character in American theater in a truly charming and forthright manner.
Neil Schaffner started with the Tent Shows before World War I and retired in 1962 after the Depression when World War II and television had chased the old Tent Shows from the disappearing regional theaters. From 1900 to 1929 family entertainment centered in the Tent Shows of the Midwest and Southwest with plays, vaudeville and even military bands, but the star was generally Toby and his partner Susie. Neil and Caroline Schaffner played these roles memorably even after World War II in the final group of the tent repertoire--The Schaffner Players.
A fascinating story! Told by Toby! And by Ralph Edwards in 1958 on "This is Your Life."
A wonderful record of a period in American theater history that can never return!
This book, published by Prentice-Hall in 1968 (228 pages measuring 6 1/4" x 9 1/4), is in good condition. Except for two lines drawn on page 7 and a name on the reverse of the front cover, the book is clean and it is firmly bound. A section of 19 photographs enhances the story. The dust jacket is slightly ragged at the spine and a little soiled with handling.

(4) The Theatre of Billy Rose or Only a Paper Moon, 1987, by Stephen Nelson explores the career of the sensational showman who produced Nite Club Extravaganzas and discovered Fanny Brice, Jimmy Durante and Danny Kaye among many others.
Billy Rose was synonymous with extravagant entertainment for forty years in America, especially in New York, 1924-1962. His gift for spotting new talent showcased Ira Gershwin, Rogers and Hart, Busby Berkeley, George Jessel, Abbott and Costello, Esther Williams and Johnny Weissmuller. Enhancing this history are 38 photos from various Billy Rose productions.
Nelson is the first theater historian to analyze Billy Rose's legacy in theater. This book is in very good condition - no marks, no tears, shinny dust jacket and no signs of shelf wear. It is 169 pages long and measures 6" x 9 1/4."

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Late 19th & Early 20th Century American Theater: Traveling Theater, Vaudeville, Tent Shows, Toby Shows, Extravaganzas, Minstrels

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  • Vintage item
  • Materials: cloth, paper, vintage
  • Only ships within United States.
  • Feedback: 211 reviews
  • Favorited by: 65 people