Writing for Vaudeville eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 543 pages of information about Writing for Vaudeville.

And the two-act, even more perfectly than the monologue, fits into the musical comedy.  No matter what the two-act is, if it is short and humorous, it may be used for one of the ornamental time-gap stoppers.  A quarrel scene may be just what is needed to fill out and advance the plot.  But more often, the flirtation two-act is the form that best suits, for the nature of the musical comedy seems best expressed by love and its romantic moments.  Indeed, the flirtation two-act is often a little musical comedy in itself, minus a background of girls.  As an example, take Louis Weslyn’s very successful two-act, “After the Shower.” [1] You can easily imagine all the other girls in the camping party appearing, to act as the chorus.  Then suppply a talkative chaperon, and you have only to add her comical husband to produce a fine musical comedy offering.

[1] See the Appendix.

So we see once more that the one-act musical comedy is the result of assembling, rather than of writing.  There is no need of adding even one instruction paragraph here.

Before we take up the one or two hints on writing that would seem to present themselves in helpful guise, you should read Edgar Allan Woolf’s “A Persian Garden.”  Turn to the Appendix and this act will show you clearly how the writer welds these different vaudeville forms into one perfect whole.



Unless you have a definite order to write a one-act musical comedy, it would seem, from the comparatively small part the writer has in the final effect, that the novice had better not write the musical comedy at all.  Although this would appear to be clear from the discussion of the elements in the preceding chapter, I want to make it even more emphatic by saying that more than once I have written a musical comedy act for the “small time” in a few hours—­and have then spent weeks dovetailing it to fit the musical numbers introduced and whipping the whole act into the aspect of a “production.”

But there is one time when even the amateur may write a musical comedy—­when he has a great idea.  But I do not mean the average musical comedy idea—­I mean such an idea as that which made “The Naked Truth” so successful.  And in the hope that you may possess such an idea, I offer a few hints that may prove helpful in casting your idea into smooth musical comedy form.

As I have already discussed plot in the chapters devoted to the playlet, and have taken up the structure of the monologue and the two-act in the chapters on those forms, there is now no need for considering “writing” at all save for a single hint.  Yet even this one suggestion deals less with the formal “writing” element than with the “feel” of the material.  It is stated rather humorously by Thomas J. Gray, who has written many successful one-act musical comedies,

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Writing for Vaudeville from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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