The book offers the first full historical treatment of a music theatre that was once at the centre of London's West End. From the late Victorian period to the early 1920s, musical comedy was the single most popular form of 'legitimate' theatre entertainment. Shows such as A Gaiety Girl, The Geisha, Floradora, The Arcadians and Our Miss Gibbs were the smash hits of their day, enjoying huge West End runs and tours that took in Broadway and the sheer expanse of the British Empire. This lively account establishes musical comedy as one of the first modern cultures to take on an industrial dimension, both in its production and in terms of the marketing of the shows and their stars. It also offers fascinating insights into how musical comedy, with its confirmation of the British identity and celebrated embracing of the modern condition, functioned as a constitutive culture of the conservative centre.

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