Categories
Photography Rose's Royal Midget Troupe Vaudeville Vaudevisuals Bookshelf Vaudevisuals Press

“Rose’s Royal Midgets and Other Little People of Vaudeville”. A Review by Dominique Jando.

In the first half of the twentieth century, performing troupes of Little People ⏤ then popularly known as Midgets ⏤ were undeniably, in Europe or in the United States, the main drawing cards of any variety or circus production that featured them. After their appearance in M-G-M’s “The Wizard of Oz,” the Munchkins’ everlasting fame has been a testimony to their timeless appeal. “Midgets” were not to be confused with Little People victim of achondroplasia: unlike the latter, they were perfectly proportioned, looking like amazingly gifted children who had just fled Neverland. Endearing to their audiences, they were also genuinely talented performers, and if only for that reason, their place in show business history is indeed worthy of attention.

“Rose’s Royal Midgets and Other Little People of Vaudeville,” published by Vaudevisuals Press, justly gives them the long-overdue attention they deserve as performing artists: the very short bibliography appearing at the end of the book sadly shows how little has been written about them, unless they appeared under the generic denomination of “freaks” in a few books related to carnival and circus sideshows — an even more derogatory term than “Midgets,” especially for the true performers they often were.

Trav S.D., American vaudeville’s foremost historian and keeper of the flame (whose book “No Applause, Just Throw the Money” is a must for anyone curious about vaudeville), tells us in a well-researched essay the history of Ike Rose and his Royal Midgets company, which forms the backbone of the book and benefits from precious documents in the personal collection of Karen McCarty — whose grandmother, Gladys Farkas, was a member of Rose’s company. Besides rare photographs, reproductions of contracts, advertising booklets, and programs give us a wonderful insight into the life of the troupes of that era.

In another well-illustrated essay, Trav introduces us to other famous Little People, from P.T. Barnum’s Tom Thumb (Charles Stratton) to the Doll Family (born Schneider) and many lesser-known individuals and troupes, with biographical notices that finally take them out of the shadows. The book opens with an essay by James Taylor (author of “Shocked and Amazed! On & Off the Midway”) on performing Little People’s reaction to the much too frequent use of the derogatory terminology that usually describes them, whether or not in a professional context. It ends with a gallery of Charles Eisenmann’s photographic portraits of Little People (from the Syracuse University Library’s Ronald G. Becker Collection) dating back to the 1880s.

Edited and published by Jim Moore, photographer to the circus stars, “Rose’s Royal Midgets and Other Little People of Vaudeville” is a wonderful tribute to bona-fide artists who, notwithstanding the special appeal of their physical peculiarity, were by and large talented actors, singers, dancers, comedians, and circus performers who certainly deserved more than a quick footnote in the history of show business.

Dominique Jando ~ Circopedia

Ike Rose and his troupe visiting the White House in 1926.
A review of Rose's Royal Midgets and Other Little People of Vaudeville by Circopedia's founder/director Dominique Jando.
Dudley Foster photographed by Charles Eisenmann.
From the Charles Eisenmann section of Rose’s Royal Midgets and Other Little People of Vaudeville.
Courtesy of the Ronald G. Becker Collection of Charles Eisenmann Photographs

To purchase the book click here!

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Categories
Dixon Place Performing Arts Sideshow Silent Film Vaudevisuals Interview Video Writer

Vaudevisuals interview with author/director/producer Trav S.D.

We are all in ‘shut-in’ lifestyles these days and so my interviews are taking the form of ‘internet’ screen videos from remote locations. Here is my first one with author Trav SD.


Upcoming Events Mentioned in the interview!

Smith Opera House screening, May 14, 7 pm

Lower East Side Festival of the Arts, May 22-24 (exact time TBA)

Niles Film Museum Charlie Chaplin Days, June 26-28

Dixon Place Hot! Festival, July 24, 7:30 pm: a lecture on drag, (details TBA)

And of course Trav SD’s blog


For those readers who haven’t read Trav SD’s books here they are!

No Applause–Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous

CHAIN OF FOOLS: SILENT COMEDY AND ITS LEGACIES, FROM NICKELODEONS TO YOUTUBE

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Categories
Comedy Film Vaudeville Vaudevisuals Interview West Fest Women

Vaudevisuals interview with Trav S.D. – “West Fest”

“I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it.” Mae West

Vaudevisuals interviews Trav S.D. about the upcoming ‘West Fest‘ dedicated to all things Mae West. August 17th to the 29th at numerous historical locations.

Mary Jane “Mae” West (August 17, 1893 – November 22, 1980) was an American actress, singer, playwright, screenwriter, comedian, and sex symbol whose entertainment career spanned seven decades, known for her lighthearted bawdy double entendres and breezy sexual independence.

West was active in vaudeville and on the stage in New York City before moving to Hollywood to become a comedian, actress, and writer in the motion picture industry, as well as appearing on radio and television. The American Film Institute named her 15th among the greatest female stars of classic American cinema.

WEST FEST – Aug 17 – 29th, 2018

For more information about the West Fest Click Here!

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August 17 (Friday)
Mae West Walking Tour
Time: 11:00 am
Location: Cypress Hills Cemetery
833 Jamaica Ave, Brooklyn (meet at main entrance)
Cost: $25 (cost of lunch and drinks separate). Advance registration required; space is limited.
To purchase tickets, visit: http://bit.ly/2Jj2pk8
Visit Mae West’s final resting place with historian and tour guide Kevin Fitzpatrick. Afterwards, walk (.7 miles) to Neir’s Tavern, an 1829 bar where Mae is said to have performed, for lunch and drinks before visiting her former home.

August 18 (Saturday)
Let’s Talk About Mae
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Location: Jefferson Market Library, 425 Sixth Ave
A series of talks about Mae West will take place in the former courthouse whose prison she spent the night in after being convicted on obscenity charges in 1927.
Cost: Free
Full schedule below and here: https://on.nypl.org/2mRBV0d

12:00 pm: Mae’s Early Life, Career, and Vaudeville—Trav S.D., writer and performer; best known for critically-acclaimed “No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous” and the blog Travalanche.

1:00 pm: Mae and Broadway—John Calhoun, librarian, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

2:00 pm: Mae and Race—Chicava Honeychild, scholar, actress, proprietress of Brown Girls Burlesque, and artist in residence at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater.

3:00 pm: Mae and Spiritualism— Kathy Biehl, scholar, actress, freelance writer, and certified, award-winning psychic and astrologer.

4:00 pm: Rebel Mae West—a panel discussion moderated by Grady Turner, curator of “Bare! True Stories of Sex Desire and Romance;” featuring Dirty Martini, the international burlesque sensation; Elyse Singer, CUNY teaching fellow, artistic director of Hourglass Group, and director of two critically-acclaimed revivals of Mae West plays: “Sex” (1999) and “Pleasure Man” (2003) as well as participants Trav S.D., John Calhoun, Chicava Honeychild, and Kathy Biehl.

August 19 (Sunday)
Mae West Double Feature
Screenings: “She Done Him Wrong” (1933) and “Belle of the Nineties” (1934)
Time: 2:00 pm
Location: Jefferson Market Library, 425 Sixth Ave
Cost: Free
Films introduced by Michele Gouveia, West Fest chair, writer, and producer.

August 25 (Saturday)
Screening: “My Little Chickadee” (1940)
Time: 1:30 pm
Location: Metrograph, 7 Ludlow St
Cost: $15
To purchase tickets in advance, visit:http://bit.ly/2OuLVbJ
Film to be introduced by Dr. Harriet Fields, the granddaughter of W.C. Fields. There will also be a Q&A following the film.

August 27 (Monday)
Staged reading of the musical “Come Up ‘n’ See Me”
Time: 8:00 pm
Location: Friars Club, 55 W 57th St
Proper attire is expected.
Cost: $15
Tickets must be reserved in advance and paid for at the door (check or credit card only).
To reserve tickets, visit: https://www.comeupnseemethemusical.com/news
“Come Up ‘n’ See Me” is an original musical about the life of Mae West. Book by Bianca Leigh, Bonnie Lee Sanders, and Ellen Schwartz. Music and Lyrics by Bonnie Lee Sanders and Ellen Schwartz. Directed by Crystal Chapman. Musical Direction by Thomas Spahn.

August 29 (Wednesday)
Screening: “I’m No Angel” (1933)
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave, Huntington, Long Island
Cost: $11 members/$16 public
To purchase tickets in advance, visit:http://bit.ly/2vNX2Vm

Categories
Photography

Vaudevisuals interview with Ralph Lewis – “Androboros”

PECULIAR WORKS PROJECT presents Androboros

Fraunces Tavern at 54 Pearl Street, NYC

For more information/tickets on Androboros click here!

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Categories
Cinema Comedy Film Marx Brothers Music Performing Arts Photography Vaudeville Video

The Marx Brothers Weekend – Sept. 9th – A Video/Photo Excerpt

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The Marx Brothers and World War I

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The Trivia Section of the day at 2:00 pm with Brett Leveridge

Noah Diamond displays one of the Prizes for Trivia winner. Marx Brothers Comic Book.

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Marx Brothers Sing-Along

Marx Brothers Singalong: “Alone”

There are two kinds of people: those who would enjoy a group singalong of Marx Brothers songs, and those who simply don’t know how to have fun. I assert that you have not truly lived until you’ve heard a room full of people singing Chico’s version of “Everyone Says I Love You,” in glorious unison. This video documents another of the Singalong’s many highlights: “Alone” (by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, from A Night at the Opera), led by Bill Zeffiro on the keys. (Noah Diamond contributed this and all other text for this post.)

Marx Brothers Singalong: “Dr. Hackenbush” and “Lydia the Tattooed Lady”

The Singalong concludes with a pair of Groucho specialty numbers. The penultimate selection is “Dr. Hackenbush” by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, one of Groucho’s favorite musical signatures, despite its unfortunate exclusion from A Day at the Races. The Singalong concludes with the immortal “Lydia the Tattooed Lady,” by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg, from At the Circus, led by Bill Zeffiro and me.
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A

Deep Dive Into Cracked Ice: Duck Soup Before Duck Soup!

Cracked Ice is an early draft of Duck Soup, written by Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby, and Grover Jones. It has some obvious similarities to the finished film, but it also reveals the more characteristically Marxian (and notably darker) comedy that was being planned before the director Leo McCarey imposed his vision on it. The first day of Marx Brothers Weekend ended with this cold reading, featuring Kathy Biehl, Melody Jane, Brett Leveridge, Jonny Porkpie, Matt Roper, Trav S.D., Seth Shelden, Matt Walters, and me. (Noah Diamond)
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Categories
LaMaMa etc Music Performing Arts Photography

Theatre Askew presents a play by Trav S.D. – ‘Horseplay: or, A Fickle Mistress, A Protean Picaresque’.

Horseplay: or, A Fickle Mistress, A Protean Picaresque by Trav S.D.

Photographing the dress/tech of a show can sometimes provide wonderful ‘candid’ shots of the actors at work. I was glad

to be at LaMama last night for this experience. Here are some shots from the dress/tech of the show that opens on Valentine’s day!

Tim Cusack inbetween moments during the rehearsal.Tim Cusack inbetween moments during the rehearsal.

untitled (27 of 123)Everett Quinton, Jan Leslie Harding, Tim Cusak, Chuck Montgomery and Tiffany Abercrombie in the midst of rehearsal.

untitled (94 of 123)Molly Pope with pipe in hand reads from the manuscript (prop).

Horseplay at LaMama(L to R) Tiffany Abercrombie, Chuck Montgomery look on at Molly Pope with Jan Leslie Harding and musician/composer William TN Hall.

untitled (65 of 123)Molly Pope is read to by Tim Cusack in a scene from the play. 

untitled (96 of 123)Mark St. Cyr sneaks a look at the audience during a scene with Molly Pope.

Jan Leslie Harding takes a moment to reflect.Jan Leslie Harding takes a moment to reflect inbetween scenes.

Tim Cusack looks down at Mollly Pope.Tim Cusack looks over Molly Pope as she gets into position for a lashing.

untitled (114 of 123)The cast about to begin a scene as the stage manager Haejin Jan gives notes.

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PRODUCTION CREDITS

Written by Trav S.D.            

Directed by Elyse Singer

Original music and musical direction by William TN Hall    

With Molly Pope* as Adah Isaacs Menken

and Tiffany Abercrombie, Tim Cusack, Jan Leslie Harding*, Chuck Montgomery*, Everett Quinton*, Mark St. Cyr*

*Member Actors’ Equity Association

      ——

Choreography by Antonio Brown

Fight direction by Nathan DeCoux

Set by Liz Toonkel

Lights by Deborah Constantine

Costumes by Becky Hubbert

Sound by Marcelo Añez    

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FOR TICKETS and MORE INFO

Categories
Comedy Coney Island USA LaMaMa etc Music Performing Arts Photography Puppetry Variety Arts Ventriliquist Video

Coney Island USA presents “Dead End Dummy”

Coney Island USA has been defending the honor of American Popular Culture for years. Using innovative exhibitions, and performances. Their ‘Funhouse Philosophers‘ is the resident theater company of Coney Island USA and it is under the direction of Artistic Director Dick Zigun. It is Dick Zigun who has authored this play “Dead End Dummy”. Directed by Trav S.D. with a stellar cast. I got to photograph the OPENING NIGHT performance and also got a few video clips which are presented below. 

GO SEE IT! A ROLLER COASTER OF A SHOW…

Scott Baker in "Dead End Dummy'Scott Baker and his vent dummy Moe in “Dead End Dummy” on Opening Night.

Poor Baby Bree with Poor Baby Bree singing a song with Scott Baker and his dummy Moe close behind.

Becca Bernard performs live music with the show.Becca Bernard performs live music on piano and cello in the show.

2014.10.10_Dummy_216Scott Baker in a tense moment with his dummy Moe.

Douglas Mackrell with Scott Baker threatening him.Douglas Mackrell (playing Thomas Edison) with Scott Baker (Max) threatening him.

Scott Baker with his new companion.Scott Baker with his new companion Plugger McPat.

Trav S.D. performs as the radio DJTrav S.D. (Director of the play) performs as the radio DJ who introduces Max to the radio audience.

2014.10.10_Dummy_167Poor Baby Bree (playing Sara Hartburn) beautifully sings up a storm in the show.

2014.10.10_Dummy_145Curtain Call photo with primaries of the show. (L to R) Bree Benton, Trav S.D.(with Moe), Scott Baker, playwright Dick D. Zigun (with Plugger McPat)

CAST:

Scott Baker (Max), Bree Benton (Sara Hartburn), Douglas Mackrell (Edison), Becca Bernard (Beethoven) Arianna Geneson (Shadow), Rhiannon Schaefer (Shadow) Dick D. Zigun (Playwright), Trav S.D. (Director and DJ), Kate Dale (Scenic Designer), Marie Roberts (Art Designer), Alix Martin (Master Carpenter), Sarah Lahue (Stage Manager).

Video Excerpt with Douglas Mackrell and Scott Baker.

DEAD END DUMMY is coming to La Mama if you can’t make it to Coney Island.

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Categories
Burlesque Clown Comedy Marx Brothers Music Performing Arts Photography Variety Arts

“I’ll Say She Is” – A collection of stills from the video shot at the 2014 Fringe Festival

THE MARX BROTHERS LEGENDARY 1924 Production returned to the stage for the first time in 90 years!

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Video taped on the last night of the Fringe Festival’s production of “I’ll Say She Is” by Jim R Moore

Stills excerpted from the video by Noah Diamond.

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Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 1.56.00 AM“Welcome to the lowest dive in the city, where creatures of the underworld drug their brains with poisonous poppy.”

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 2.02.25 AMPictured are: Melissa Roth, Kita St. Cyr, Emily Turner Marsland, Francine Daveta, Amber Bloom, Alexis Thomason and Lefty Lucy.

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 2.04.32 AM“They are devastating the dining room. I fear for the silver.” with Kathy Biehl and C.L. Weatherstone.

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 2.06.45 AM“We’re alive, and what a thing to be!”

with Amber BloomC.L. WeatherstoneKita St CyrAristotle StamatFrancine DavetaKathy BiehlBob Homeyer,Melody JaneMelissa Roth and Alexis Thomason.

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 2.09.04 AMThe Inception of Drapery.

with Melody JaneKathy BiehlMelissa RothKita St CyrEmily Turner MarslandLefty Lucy and Alexis Thomason

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 2.12.07 AMThrills: The beautiful chorus of “I’ll Say She Is,” the beautiful choreography of Helen Burkett, the beautiful musical direction of Sabrina Chap, the beautiful costumes of Jlz Kro!

 with Kita St Cyr,Francine DavetaEmily Turner Marsland and Amber Bloom.

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 2.16.48 AMIn this scene, Harpo is ostensibly auditioning, and this is pretty much what Seth‘s audition was like. 

with Aristotle StamatSeth Shelden and Bob Homeyer.

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GREAT REVIEWS!

CurtainUp Review 

Theater is Easy Review 

The Examiner Review 

McGovern Review 

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For more information about upcoming productions of this show follow the Facebook page here!

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Categories
Burlesque Performing Arts Photography The Kraine Theater

“Burlesque-a-pades” at The Kraine Theater – July 20th, 2013

Burlesque-a-pades-poster

What a great evening of ‘old-style’ burlesque.

The cast was amazingly talented and the show was directed by Trav S.D.

What better to host this great lineup than the master MC Albert Cadabra.

Albert Cadabra host the Burlesque-a-pades.

The first number was a chorus of all the women from the show.

The Burlesque-a-pades chorus lineup.

Albert started the show by swallowing a very long balloon.

Albert Cadabra swallows the whole ballon.Albert Cadabra swallows the whole ballon.

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Sultry Angie Pontani starts off the show with a hot fur  number.

Sultry Angie Pontani starts off the show with a hot fur  number.

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Helen Pontani decides to read books instead.

Helen Pontani reads books for the audience.

Helen Pontani performas at The Kraine.

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Stage manager Bambi Galore insists that Albert stop talking and get on with the show.

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The ‘Maine Attraction’ brings some ‘Josephine Baker’ inspired moves to the show.

'The Maine Attraction' brings some hot moves to the show.

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‘Gal Friday’ added some more zest to the show with her routine.

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Pinkie Special performs her routine at Burlesque-a-pades.

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Tigger is joined by Helen and Angie Pontani in this Hawaii tribute dance.

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Tigger tries a new electronic device that ‘cures all problems’.

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A little comedic reprise for the show.

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Angie Pontani performs a beautiful ‘on point’ ballet burlesque.

Angie Pontani on point in her burlesque piece.

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Albert tries to sell an audience member some ‘cure all’ that isn’t what it seems at all.

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‘Pinky Special’ pulls out all the stops on her amazing electrified  hula hoop act.

Pinky Special performs with her electrified Hula Hoops.

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The show was filled with wonderful comedic moments.  Bradford Scobie added quite a few.

Whether singing a ‘dirty’ song or using a lasso…he was hysterical!

Bradford Scobie singing about chickens.

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The finale was ‘Tigger’…singing a song and strippin away the masquerade of life.

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Tigger performing at Burlesque-a-pades.

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And the Curtain Call for all the amazing performers.

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For more information on the Burlesque-a-pades go to their Facebook page here.

Categories
Amercian Vaudeville Theatre Juggling Performing Arts Photography Variety Arts

100th Anniversary of The Palace Theatre -The Theatre Museum Excellence Awards @ The Players Club

100th Anniversary of The Palace Theatre in New York City. June 3rd, 2013

Palace Theatre 100th Anniversary

An evening of Awards of Excellence from The Theatre Museum and A Variety show like those presented at The Palace Theatre.

2013.06.03_PlayersClb_013An Award was given to Helen Marie Guditis for Distiguished Service to the Theatre. It was accepted by her brother Albert.

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Emerson College was given the Award for 'Theatre Arts Eduction".

Melia Bensusssen accepted the Theatre Arts Education Award for Emerson College.

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A Vaudeville Tribute to The Palace Theatre’s 100th Anniversary

Producer/Aufhor and Performer Trav SDTrav S.D. introduces the evening of festivities for the 100th Anniversary.

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Master of Ceremonies Todd Robbins tries to hypnotize the audience.Master of Ceremonies Todd Robbins tries to hypnotize the audience.

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Rope handler and whip cracker Chris McDaniel opened the show.Rope handler and whip cracker Chris McDaniel opened the show.

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Ariela Pizza performed a delightful song with some dancing.Ariela Pizza performed a delightful song with some dancing.

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Poor Baby Bree took us back in time with her  songs.Poor Baby Bree took us back in time with her  songs.

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Rod Kimball and Andy Sapora performed a wacky act together.Rod Kimball and Andy Sapora performed  together.

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Rebecca Joy Fletcher dancing with Theatre Museum Chairman Stuart F. Lane during her act.Rebecca Joy Fletcher dancing with Theatre Museum Chairman Stewart F. Lane during her act.

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2013.06.03_PlayersClb_259Ron Hutchinson introduced some video clips of the Vitaphone Project of vaudeville stars projected at the end of the evening.

The Theatre Museum Awards were produced by Alyssa Renzi

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Also at the evening’s festivities was Joe Franklin and Will Jordan. Both spoke about their days in show business.

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For more information on The Theatre Museum go here.

For more information on Trav S.D go here. (Producer of the Vaudeville show this night)

For more information on The Vitaphone Project go here.