Title: Gaslight Gaieties
Subtitle: A Complete Gay Nineties Variety Show
Genre: Fine Arts/Drama
Editor and Arranger: Tom Taggart
Publisher: Samuel French, New York, New York
Format: Paperback, staple-bound booklet.
Provenance: “Mrs. Larson” written in red ball-point pen on front cover.
Table of Contents: Grand Opening—The Academy of Stars; The Fireman; Cross Questions and Crooked Answers; Freezing a Mother-In-Law; Only a Shop-Girl; He, She, and It; The Anatomical Tragedian; Stanley and His African Pygmies; Intermission; Lodgings to Let; Box and Cox; The Maniac; The Merchant of Venison; The Six Great Immortals; La Vendetta.
Opening Line: “MANAGER. Confound that stupid theatrical agent!”
Random Passage: “WALTER. Your tender reference to your dear sweet mother, Emily, makes my task a comparatively easy one. I have returned only to bid you farewell.” (from Freezing a Mother-in-Law)
Notes: A selection of quaint old-timey vaudeville skits ideally meant for performance by 1940-’50s era high school and community college students. Includes Stanley and His African Pygmies, as offensive as the title (the “African Explorer” comedy skit was a common trope in vaudeville). Founded in 1830, Samuel French continues to provide licensing for drama productions—they even have a selection of Tom Taggart plays available on their website. Thankfully, Gaslight Gaieties is not one of the current offerings.