The minstrel show was the first form of musical theater originating in America. Beginning in the 1830’s and based on an imitation of black music and dance, these shows reached the height of popularity in the 1860’s. Despite their often negative parody of African American life, they continued to be popularly produced into the 1950’s. From the early 1900’s the minstrel show was a popular form of entertainment in Newport, and were offered by several different town organizations as well as traveling troupes of performers. These shows provided a way for community members to share their talent and for organizations to raise money. The later shows presented entertainments that were more influenced by Vaudeville, but still included the typical minstrel musicians and end men. Between 1928 and 1967, the American Legion staged Newport’s most popular minstrel shows. The first American Legion Minstrel Show took place on February 16 and 17, 1928, at the Town Hall. A street parade, filmed by Carl Waldron, preceded the first performance. Charles Lloyd Jobes was the first director, and he continued to direct many of the shows until 1950. Legion minstrel productions became the most lasting and popular entertainment in Newport for close to forty years.

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