Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Vintage Camp? Not "Gentlemen"

Cleveland Press March 16, 1966

I cannot quite understand this urge to revive the conventional theater of somebody's youth but that is what happened at Eldred Theater.

This is the 1926 play that served as the basis for a later musical comedy that gave Carol Channing a chance to warble "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" before she sang "Hello Dolly."

As such it has some historical interest, if nothing else.

Director Nadine Miles has chosen to leave the play intact and it's a wise decision. It lends the show an appealing quaintness. Besides, a reference to Bolsheviks comes out funnier than one to Communists. And talking about putting a nickel in the electric piano sounds more appealing than referring to a juke box particularly when one considers what comes out of juke box today.

YOU WOULD THINK that the play would emerge as a sort of vintage camp. It doesn't because it isn't bad enough to laugh at for that reason.

The best and funniest aspect of "Gentlemen" continues to be Lorelie Lee, that wonderful smart-dumb blond who makes fools of men and makes them like it.

Miss Lee is played appealingly by Roberta Hingson, a fetchingly pretty girl who doesn't overdo the wide-eye routine, indicates there's a modicum of shrewdness behind her zaniness.

Nancy Smith does well with the wry, dry lines of Lorelei's brunette friend.

THE OTHER CHARACTERS are played rather broadly. I suppose it adds to the comic effect but all that arm waving must be pretty strenuous on the cast.

Great care seems to have gone into getting the proper hair styles on the girls and costuming in those no-hip dresses of the period.

The show is more a series of entertaining incidents than it is a soundly constructed play. It suffers from talkiness, especially in an involved and cumbersome second act.

I listened intently but the nearest thing I heard to "diamonds are a girl's best friend" was "a diamond and sapphire bracelet lasts forever..."