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HOW A VAUDEVILLE ACT IS BOOKED
While an understanding of how a vaudeville act is transformed from a manuscript into a commercial success may not be necessary to the writing of a good act, such a knowledge is absolutely necessary to the writer who hopes to make money by his work. For this reason I shall devote this final chapter to a brief discussion of the subject.
Permit me, therefore, to take the manuscript of an act, assuming for my purpose that it represents a monologue or a two-act, a playlet or a musical comedy, and trace its commercial career from the author’s hands, into a producer’s, through a booking office, to success. Anyone of the famous examples printed in this volume could be so taken and its history told, but no one would combine in its experience all the points that should be given. So I shall ask you to imagine that the act whose commercial story I am about to tell represents in itself every kind of act to be seen in vaudeville. I shall call this act by the name of “Success.”
When Mr. Author, the writer of “Success,” received a letter from Mr. Producer accepting the act and requesting him to call at his office to discuss terms, Mr. Author was delighted and hurried there as fast as he could go.
The office boy ushered him into Mr. Producer’s private office, and before the caller could get his breath Mr. Producer had made him an offer. He accepted the offer without haggling over the terms, which seemed to Mr. Author very satisfactory. To tell the truth, he would have accepted almost anything, so eager was he to get his first act on the stage, so it was lucky for him that the terms were really fair.
He had hardly folded up the contract and stowed it, with the advance royalty check, in his bosom pocket, before Mr. Producer plunged into business. He pressed a button for the office boy and told him to tell Mr. Scenic Artist to come in. Now Mr. Scenic Artist was the representative of a great scenic studio, and he sketched a design for a special set in a jiffy; then he thought of another, and then of a third. And Mr. Producer and he were so interested in combining all their good ideas into one admirable set that Mr. Author was startled when they shoved a sketch under his nose and asked for suggestions. He made two that were pertinent to the atmosphere he had imagined for his room, and when they were incorporated in the sketch, Mr. Producer O. K’d it and Mr. Scenic Artist bowed himself out, promising to have a model ready the next day.