Broadway Goes to War: Soldier Shows of World War I

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Illustration: The cover of sheet music for Atta Boy!A talk at the New York State Library will tell the story of the “soldier shows” which were presented during and after the first World War.

The program, titled “Broadway Goes to War: Soldier Shows of World War I,” will be held on Saturday, October 28, 2017, at 2 pm, at the State Library, located in the Cultural Education Center, 222 Madison Avenue, Albany, New York. Local author David Fiske will be the presenter.

Soldier shows allowed theatrical producers to not only entertain the public, but provide a show of patriotism. The productions featured performers who were actually in the service, and consisted of humorous skits and musical numbers, plus a novelty: female characters were played by male soldiers.

Since New York City was a show business hub, many of the New York men who served had background in entertainment and made use of their talents to stage soldier shows. Soldiers with names familiar to Broadway theater-goers – such as Sergeant Irving Berlin, Private James Wagstaff Gribble, and Major Frank Tinney – pitched in to work on the shows.

The 27th Division (the “New York Division”) was especially active theatrically, staging three different productions. Proceeds from the shows went to projects intended to improve the lives of those serving in the armed forces of the U.S.

The program is free and open to the public, but registration is requested. To register, click here, or call the Library at (518) 474-2274

Illustration: The cover of sheet music for Atta Boy!

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