Variety is a type of theater whose performances are based on a combination of different genres of theatrical, musical, pop and circus art. Variety theater performances are always light and cheerful. They are filled with humor, irony, and elements of parody. Actors and reciters, singers and dancers, magicians and acrobats perform on the stage of the variety show.
Parisian variety shows
Variety theaters became widespread in large cities of Western Europe at the turn of the 19th - 20th centuries. They got their name from the Variety theater, which was founded in 1720 in Paris.
Cafeschantans and cabarets are considered the forerunners of variety theaters, although the concepts of “cabaret” and “variety show” are sometimes considered synonymous. For a long time, Paris remained the center of development of variety theaters.
The performances of the variety theaters were distinguished by an incredibly magnificent design. Almost the main genre of the variety show has become a revue - a variety review.
In the 1880s, such famous cabaret variety shows as "Black Cat" and "Foley Bergere" appeared. In addition to pomp, their performances were distinguished by excessive sentimentality and obscene jokes.
Variety theaters reached their peak in the 1920s - 1930s. Such talented singers as Maurice Chevalier and Josephine Baker began performing in the famous Parisian cabaret-variety show Moulin Rouge and Apollo. They managed to combine vocal art and acting skills.
At the same time, variety theaters became a school of virtuoso technique of spectacular pop dance, which appeared in the operetta, and later became one of the expressive means of the musical.
Variety art in Russia
In Russia, divertissement programs, which included verses, dances and frivolous songs, which can be considered the predecessors of variety shows, appeared in the middle of the 19th century and were shown in cafes and restaurants.
Variety theaters in Russia began to develop actively during the Silver Age. During this time, numerous artistic pubs, restaurants, cabarets and miniature theaters were opening. The famous restaurants "Aquarium" and "Hermitage", theaters of miniatures "The Bat" and "Crooked Mirror" appeared in Moscow; in St. Petersburg - "Theater-Buff", cabaret "Halt Comedians", cafe "Stray Dog". They hosted parody and pop performances, poetry evenings, puppet shows. One of the most prominent representatives of the variety show aesthetics was the outstanding Russian actor and singer Alexander Vertinsky, who performed in the guise of Pierrot.
In the 1920s, one of the main elements of the variety show ceased to be mandatory - tables in front of the stage, which brought theater and restaurant closer together.
In recent decades, variety show aesthetics have experienced a new heyday. True, the boundaries between the terms "cabaret", "variety show", "revue", "burlesque" and "music hall" have now disappeared.