Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Karamu Revives Rodgers-Hart Opus

Cleveland Press October 28, 1967

Of the more than two dozen Rodgers and Hart shows that filled the American musical theater in the period between two world wars there is hardly one that did not contribute one or more enduring songs.

But of all of them, the play books of very few are likely to survive and the likeliest to last are "The Boys From Syracuse" and "Pal Joey." No small factor in their durability is their basis in previous literary works -- "Boys" in Shakespeare's "Comedy of Errors" and "Pal Joey" based on the John O'Hara novel.

"The Boys From Syracuse" has been revived by Karamu in its Proscenium Theater and in spite of an only average production for this little theater group -- though at times an effervescent one -- the durability of the George Abbott script comes through.

There is a paradox in the durability of this show however. It is not one that can easily be revived by little theater groups or by a commercial group for that matter short of an expensive mounting.

THE MATERIAL was created for a theatrical form that virtually demanded big production numbers. The songs -- real beauties some of them -- were indifferently integrated into the show. They advanced the story not at all but offered a pleasant musical respite from the dramatic proceedings.

They were designed for large choruses and elaborate choreography and in the latter category this presentation does not come off well.

The one bit of dancing that does register is, appropriately, a simple and effective number called "Big Brother" involving Harry Caldwell and David Coleman.

IN CASE you have forgotten, this is the story of the twin brothers separated at birth and their twin servants as well who are reunited, but not until after a series of comic escapades with merchants, police, wives, and girl friends.

Classics in popular music which came out of this show include "Falling In Love With Love," "This Can't Be Love" and "Sing For Your Supper."

The singing is good and the acting pleasant so "The Boys From Syracuse" may be worth revisiting for the nostalgia involved.