“A Salute to Vaudeville” in Tacoma this weekend revives the memories of when MAE WEST dazzled the foot-stomping audience at Pantages not long after it opened in 1918.
• • This event will take place on Saturday [27 September 2008] at Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway, Tacoma, Washington.
• • They were all there at the opening of Tacoma’s Pantages Theater on January 7, 1918 — — according to an article by Rosemary Ponnekanti — — and they’ll be there again for this season’s opener in the same theater. An opera singer, a tap dancer, circus performers, a comedy act, puppets, a magician — — all live, local performers, just as entertaining as those back in the Pantages’ vaudeville heyday. And they’re coming together to celebrate the 90th birthday of Tacoma’s historic theater, courtesy of the Broadway Center for Performing Arts. Vaudeville dead? Not a bit.
• • Rosemary Ponnekanti writes: When the Tacoma Pantages opened, it was to a city eagerly awaiting the glitz and glamour it would bring. Alexander Pantages was a Greek immigrant who (funded in no small part by his notorious mistress, dancer “Klondike Kate” Rockwell) built a chain of vaudeville theaters around the country, and by the time he turned his sights on Tacoma, there were 13 Pantages theaters from Vancouver to Minneapolis and San Diego to Salt Lake City.
• • Collaborating with William Jones, Pantages built a theater and office building. Architect B. Marcus Priteca, who designed Pantages’ buildings for 19 years, modeled the theater after one in Versailles, and its size and facilities allowed the impresario to promise Tacoma “the best that the Pantages circuit can offer.”
• • The best, that is, of the mix of song, dance, comedy, and general spectacle that was vaudeville. Opening-night performers included singer Agnes Finley, concert violinist Jan Rubini, dancer George Primrose and his minstrel troupe, Mariette’s Marionettes and comedian Tom Kyle. The evening opened with Pantages’ own daughter Carmen “frolick(ing) in modern and old-time dancing steps on her daddy’s stage,” as the Tacoma Daily News put it.
• • Over the next seven years, vaudeville reigned supreme. Performers included Charlie Chaplin, Mae West, and W.C. Fields, not to mention the Mexican Cossacks motorcycle troupe and the scandalous “Fatty” Arbuckle — — canceled by the Tacoma Board of Censors at the last minute.
• • By 1925, silent movies and vaudeville shared the Pantages stage at matinees. . . .
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: "Vaudeville revival as the Pantages turns 90"
• • Byline: By Rosemary Ponnekanti
• • Published in: The News Tribune — — www.thenewstribune.com
• • Published on: 22 September 2008
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •