Singers: Seance at the Palace

Curtain time. The crowd presses expectantly into Manhattan's hallowed house of vaudeville, the Palace. One fan has come from as far away as Brazil. A woman from Long Island, in a $9.90 seat, has already followed the night's star through four cities and at least 20 performances. As the pit band strikes up the overture, the now capacity crowd begins to peer anxiously toward the orchestra-section entrance.

Will the star make it? Many rise in anticipation. Then, dramatically, the spotlight splashes against the lobby door.

She has made it. In a sequined paisley pants suit,...

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