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Florodora Girls
by David for group historicalziegfeld Mar 21, 2011

The English import musical was the smash hit of the turn of the century, running 552 nights on Broadway after its opening in 1900. Its chorus, six identically proportioned and dressed 5' 4'' beauties, became the theatrical sensation of the era. Their synchronized dances and gestures perfected an idea introduced by the vaudeville sister acts of the 1890s (such as 'The Bevy'). During the run and road shows nearly every aspiring beauty in New York of the proper size and shape was slotted as one of the six. Evelyn Nesbit & Elsie Ferguson were among the more conspicuous of that sisterhood. Like most early musicals, 'Florodora' sported an absurb premise with a dictatorial Perfume baron lording over a Philippine island, a virtuous working girl cheated of her inheritance, a detective disguised as a phrenologist, and, In Act II, a Welsh Castle. The highlight of the musical was a song, "Tell me Pretty Maiden" which paired the girls with 6 likely young fellows for a chorus of duets to the music of Leslie Stuart. Below I've presented several views of the sextette and a stage picture showing the entire company. Also two solo portraits from the blizzard of publicity images generated by the girls--these of lesser known players. Frequently revived on both sides of the Atlantic, Florodora was one of the landmarks of Anglophone light entertainment in the era after Gilbert & Sullivan and before the rise of the operetta and book musical. David S. Shields


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