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Curtain Call: An Exhibition of the UA Vaudeville Collections

Dates: January 11, 2010 - May 21, 2010

Times: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Location:   Special Collections

Contact: Chrystal Carpenter

Cost: Free


The University of Arizona Vaudeville Collections take center stage as the University Libraries host Curtain Call, an exhibition of the world’s largest collection of vaudeville treasures from Special Collections. The exhibit, documenting one of the nation’s most influential entertainment genres, will showcase a variety of items from several collections: The American Vaudeville Museum Collections, the Arthur Frank Wertheim papers and the David Soren Popular Sheet Music Collection. During the run of the exhibit, the UA musical theater student group Encore! will offer a free performance of music from the golden years of vaudeville.

Beyond the entertainment aspects of vaudeville, the Curtain Call exhibit shows how vaudeville – while providing economic opportunities for people regardless of backgrounds, race, gender or sexuality – did so within the confines of segregation policies, directives of business tycoons and the expectations of audiences across the nation. The exhibit presents information on vaudeville theater circuits, individual performers, as well as trade papers and promotional items that document U.S. social history spanning the Progressive Era, World War I, the Jazz Age and the Great Depression.

The exhibit also reflects how aspects of this part of early American popular culture still influence comedy, dance and stage performances today through the examples of shows such as the Ziegfeld Follies and performers such as Fanny Brice, Buster Keaton, Sophie Tucker, Eddie Cantor, and Burns and Allen.

Curtain Call will be open from January 11 to May 21, Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the lobby of Special Collections, 1510 E. University Blvd.

In conjunction with the exhibit, Encore! The Fabulous Vaudeville Follies, a free, public program, will be held April 7 at 7 p.m. in the University of Arizona Main Library, east lobby featuring UA’s musical theater student group Encore! The group will perform 50 minutes of vaudeville acts giving audience members a chance to hear the tunes of a bygone, but deeply influential, era. Another special event coinciding with the exhibition, The Talkies Come to Town II, will be held February 28 from 2–4 p.m. at the Crossroads Theater 6, 4811 East Grant Rd., featuring an afternoon of vaudeville film clips and a reception following the show. Hosted by the Friends of the University Libraries, tickets for Talkies II are $50 (with $30 being tax deductable). To rsvp for either event, or to purchase tickets for Talkies II, please contact Gabriela Lopez at (520) 307-2768 or lopezg@u.library.arizona.edu.

The University Libraries Special Collections received the American Vaudeville Museum’s collection as a gift from veteran theater professionals Frank Cullen and Donald McNeilly in fall of 2008. The collection is a wide-ranging treasure of vaudeville memorabilia including recordings, sheet music, videos, costumes, photographs, and posters dating as far back as the 1860s. Students of theater, music, film, art and other disciplines, as well as faculty and outside researchers have a chance to use these rich and diverse materials in their scholarship through Special Collections.

Related coverage: UANews video clip and Fox 11 News interview