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The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts > Vaudeville Nation

Targeting an audience -- Haverly and Pastor

Photographic portrait of Tony Pastor.Billy Rose Theatre Collection
Photographic portrait
of Tony Pastor. Billy Rose
Theatre Collection

Program cover, Auditorium Pier, Atlantic City, NJ,for summer vaudeville presentation
Program cover, Auditorium
Pier, Atlantic City, NJ,
for summer vaudeville presentation

J. H. Haverly promoted the idea of combining a circuit of theaters for his multiple productions.  He was inspired by the newly available railroad accessibility, so that he send his minstrel troupes, comic combinations, circuses, and theater companies to the appropriate theater for the ideal season.  Contemporary cartoonists portrayed him as a puppet master with toy theaters.

Tony Pastor had managed variety theater since opening his first on the Bowery in New York city in 1865.  He moved uptown to the Union Square district in 1881.  At that time, there was a "Ladies mile" of department stores in the upper teens on 5th and 6th Avenue.  It was said that "from 14th Street down, the men were earning it, and from 14th Street up, the women were spending it." He recognized that he could attract an afternoon audience of the women who had been shopping.  He billed his theater as "refined vaudeville."  Vaudeville houses in cities and, especially, summer resorts followed his example.  Vaudeville's  major competition, pantomimes and operettas based on nursery rhyme characters, was damaged by the devastation of the Iroquois Theater fire in Chicago, during the Christmas vacation of 1903.

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