Popular entertainment developed in response to large markets in the cities. The multiple ethnic communities maintained their own theaters, in which they listened to their
music that reminded them of their homelands and heard comedians that made light of the experiences they had in the New World. Italian theaters drew from the traditions of Italian opera. While the Yiddish theater built on the experiences of American Jews. Urban Theaters also introduced one of the most distinctively American entertainment forms: the musical comedy, which evolved gradually from the comic operettas of European theater. George M. Cohan became the first great creator of musical comedies in the early twentieth century; in the process of creating his many shows, he wrote a series of patriotic songs such as "Yankee Doodle Dandy," "Over There," and "You're a Grand Old Flag." Irving Berlin wrote more than 1000 songs for the musical theater during his long career, including such popluar favorites as "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and "God Bless America."
Vaudeville was a form of theater adapted from French models. it was the most popular urban entertainment in the first decades of the twentieth century. Saloons and small community theaters could afford to offer their customers vaudeville, which consisted of a variety of acts and was inexpensive to produce. As the economic potential of vaudeville grew, some promoters such as Florenz Ziegfeld of New York, staged much more elaborate spectacles. Vaudeville was also one of the few entertainment media open to black performers. They brought to it elements of the minstrel shows they had earlier developed for black audiences in the late nineteenth century.
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