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Virtual Vaudeville will begin with a performance by Sandow the Magnificent, who was the most famous strongman of his time, and is widely regarded today as the first modern body-builder. This clip shows a preliminary animation of the first few seconds of Sandow's routine. You can find a wealth of information about Sandow in the online Sandow Museum.


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This video shows the final 40 seconds of Frank Bush's one-man routine. Frank Bush was a popular comedian who depicted a wide range of ethnic characters. Such ethnic humor was a mainstay of 19th century vaudeville. In this clip, Bush is performing his "Stage Jew," the role that made him famous. This particular character is a "Glass Puteen" (i.e. a window installer and repairman) who is being pursued by an angry Irishman — who is also performed by Frank Bush in the skit.


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Virtual Vaudeville simulates a performance in New York's Union Square Theatre in 1895. Since this theatre no longer exists, we have reconstructed it from the few remaining historical drawings and descriptions, and from careful study of extant theatres from the period. You will be able to move through the theatre at will to view the performance from any position in the house or on stage, and to examine the theatre architecture and the spectators. This clip is a walk-through during the final 40 seconds of Frank Bush's act. It begins in the back of the second balcony — the only section where African Americans were allowed to sit — and moves down to the first balcony, then into one of the box seats, and finally into the orchestra level.


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In addition to recreating the vaudeville acts themselves, the Virtual Vaudeville project is simulating the responses of the 19th century spectators. Our virtual Union Square Theatre has 800 spectators, all of whom are animated during the entire performance. (In fact, there are actually only approximately 120 spectators, each of whom is repeated several times.) Spectators respond differently to the acts depending on factors such as their age, gender, class, ethnicity and proximity to the stage. This video contrasts the reactions of six spectators to the conclusion of Frank Bush's act. (To watch the act itself, see "Conclusion of Frank Bush Act" above.)


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We are creating all the animations of the stage performances using motion and facial capture. This movie illustrates the process, showing first a photograph of the historical Frank Bush, followed by a clip of Virtual Vaudeville performer George Contini, performing Bush's act in a motion capture suit. The computer analyzes the performer's movements and reproduces them on a 3D model of Frank Bush.