The Passing Show of 1918

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Sheet music from the revue's hit song I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles (sheet music cover).jpeg
Sheet music from the revue's hit song

The Passing Show of 1918 is a Broadway musical revue featuring music of Sigmund Romberg and Jean Schwartz (and other songwriters), with book and lyrics by Harold R. Atteridge. The show introduced the hit songs "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" and "Smiles". [1]

A revue is a type of multi-act popular theatrical entertainment that combines music, dance, and sketches. The revue has its roots in 19th century popular entertainment and melodrama but grew into a substantial cultural presence of its own during its golden years from 1916 to 1932. Though most famous for their visual spectacle, revues frequently satirized contemporary figures, news or literature. Similar to the related subforms of operetta and musical theatre, the revue art form brings together music, dance and sketches to create a compelling show. In contrast to these, however, revue does not have an overarching storyline. Rather, a general theme serves as the motto for a loosely-related series of acts that alternate between solo performances and dance ensembles.

Sigmund Romberg Hungarian-born American operetta composer

Sigmund Romberg was a Hungarian-born American composer. He is best known for his musicals and operettas, particularly The Student Prince (1924), The Desert Song (1926) and The New Moon (1928).

Jean Schwartz songwriter

Jean Schwartz was a Hungarian-born American songwriter.


Staged by J. C. Huffman and choreographed by Jack Mason, the show debuted at the Winter Garden Theater on July 25, 1918. Playing for 142 performances, it closed on November 9 of the same year. The show was produced by Lee and Jacob J. Shubert. The production featured an early appearance of Fred Astaire (with his sister Adele). The New York Times called it "rattling good entertainment" and praised the "vaudeville team" of Fred and Adele Astaire, as well as the brothers Willie and Eugene Howard. [2]

Jesse C. Huffman (1869–1935) was an American theatrical director. Between 1906 and 1932 he directed or staged over 200 shows, mostly for the Shubert Brothers. Many of them were musical revues, musicals or operettas. He is known for The Passing Show series of revues that he staged from 1914 to 1924 at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway, daring alternatives to the Ziegfeld Follies.

Lee Shubert American theatre producer

Lee Shubert was a Lithuanian-born American theatre owner/operator and producer and the eldest of seven siblings of the theatrical Shubert family.

Jacob J. Shubert was a naturalized American theatre owner/operator and producer and a member of the famous theatrical Shubert family.


The original The Passing Show was presented in 1894 by George Lederer at the Casino Theatre. It featured spoofs of theatrical productions of the past season. It was one of the first musical revues on Broadway and led the fashion for such productions. [3] The Casino Theatre produced a revue each summer thereafter for several seasons.

<i>The Passing Show</i> broadway revue

The Passing Show was a musical revue in three acts, billed as a "topical extravaganza", with a book and lyrics by Sydney Rosenfeld and music by Ludwig Engländer and various other composers. It featured spoofs of theatrical productions of the past season. The show was presented in 1894 by George Lederer at the Casino Theatre. It was one of the first musical revues on Broadway and led the fashion for such productions. The Casino Theatre produced a revue each summer thereafter for several seasons.

George Lederer American Broadway producer and director

George Lederer was an American producer and director on Broadway from 1894 to 1931. He was the husband of Reine Davies from 1907 until their divorce in 1912. With Davies, he was the father of Charles Lederer and Pepi Lederer.

Broadway theatre class of professional theater presented in New York City, New York, USA

Broadway theatre, commonly known as Broadway, refers to the theatrical performances presented in the 41 professional theatres, each with 500 or more seats located in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Along with London's West End theatre, Broadway theatre is widely considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world.

In 1912, Lee and Jacob J. Shubert began an annual series of twelve elaborate Broadway revues at the Winter Garden Theatre, using the name The Passing Show of 19XX, designed to compete with the popular Ziegfeld Follies. They featured libretti by Atteridge and music usually by Romberg, George Gershwin or Herman Finck. Willie and Eugene Howard starred in many editions of the series and in the many editions of the George White's Scandals. Other stars included Charlotte Greenwood, Marilyn Miller, Ed Wynn, De Wolf Hopper, Charles Winninger, Fred Astaire and his sister Adele, Marie Dressler, Fred Allen, George Hassell, and Violet Englefield. [4] Most of the Shubert shows, including the 1918 show, were staged by J. C. Huffman. [5]

The Shubert family was responsible for the establishment of the Broadway district, in New York City, as the hub of the theatre industry in the United States.

Winter Garden Theatre Broadway theater and movie theater in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, United States

The Winter Garden Theatre is a Broadway theatre located at 1634 Broadway between 50th and 51st Streets in midtown Manhattan.

Ziegfeld Follies musical

The Ziegfeld Follies was a series of elaborate theatrical revue productions on Broadway in New York City from 1907 to 1931, with renewals in 1934 and 1936. They became a radio program in 1932 and 1936 as The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air.


The revue was structured into thirteen scenes, tied together by parodies of the previous season's shows including The Squab Farm . [6]

The Squab Farm was a musical comedy about the film industry staged on Broadway in 1918. It was written by Fanny Hatton and Frederic Hatton, and staged at the Bijou Theatre on Broadway. It starred several former film directors as well as actress Alma Tell and a 16-year-old Tallulah Bankhead in her first stage role. She was reportedly chastised for whistling in the communal dressing room, unknowingly breaking one of the theater's oldest superstitions and fellow actress Julia Bruns took pity on her and invited to share her dressing room. George Foster Platt directed.

Musical numbers

Act 1

Joe Young was a lyricist. He was born in New York. Young was most active from 1911 through the late-1930s, beginning his career working as a singer and songplugger for various music publishers. During World War I, he entertained the U.S. Troops, touring Europe as a singer.

Act 2

See also

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  1. Jasen, David A., ed. (1997). "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody" and Other Favorite Song Hits, 1918–1919. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover. pp. vi–vii. ISBN   0-486-29421-8 . Retrieved October 19, 2010.
  2. "Passing Show, 1918, A Big Extravaganza". The New York Times, July 26, 1918, accessed October 18, 2010
  3. Browne, Pat. The guide to United States popular culture, p. 286. Popular Press (2001) ISBN   0-87972-821-3, accessed April 27, 2010
  4. "The Passing Show of 1918", Internet Broadway Database, accessed September 27, 2013
  5. Hischak, Thomas S. (2006-01-01). Enter the Playmakers: Directors and Choreographers on the New York Stage. Scarecrow Press. ISBN   978-0-8108-5747-6 . Retrieved 2014-05-30.
  6. Westover, Jonas (2016). The Shuberts and Their Passing Shows: The Untold Tale of Ziegfeld's Rivals. Oxford University Press. p. 142. ISBN   978-0-19-021925-3.
  7. Jaan Kenbrovin was a collective pseudonym for the writers James Kendis, James Brockman and Nat Vincent