History on the Stage
The architect Clarence Howard Blackall
The Gaiety was
built by Clarence Howard Blackall, a prominent Boston architect
who designed 22 theaters, including the Colonial,
and the Wang
designed hotels: the Copley Plaza Hotel and Hotel Kenmore as well
as temples: Tremont Temple and Temple
in 1908 as a medium-sized theater, the Gaiety hosted burlesque productions
such as vaudeville, musical revues, silent movies, striptease and
at the Gaiety
It had all kinds
of stage entertainment, ranging from acrobats, comedians and magicians
to song-and-dance men and blackface minstrels.
of the Irish step dance, the Chinese magician, the Jewish comedian,
the German acrobat and the Italian singer was a signal to everyone
in the audience that they had a chance," said Frank Cullen
of the American Vaudeville Museum in Boston.
was the only theater in Boston for burlesque. It was the first theater
built by Boston's 1907 Fire Code, according to studies by Lee Eiseman.
It was the
home to African-American musicians, dancers and other performers
when minorities had little opportunities to perform on the stage
by racial intolerance.
an unobstructed view from each seat, a 30-foot-deep stage, 14 dressing
rooms, 20 private boxes and 40 exits.
The early 20th-century
was the heyday of theaters in Boston. The population grew with the
influx of immigrants and the city became urbanized. People enjoyed
their leisure time and the arts. All of these elements helped increased
the prosperity of the theaters, according to a report by the Boston