Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Miss Gaynor gains again -- brings fans to feet

Cleveland Press August 29, 1973

The Mitzi Gaynor show opened at Musicarnival last night and the lovely, enchanting Miss Gaynor wore 13 different costumes. That's what I counted -- 13.

Now counting costume changes may sound like a heck of a strange way to pass time, but you pass your time your way and I'll pass my time my way.

Besides, it wasn't the costumes so much but what was in them that makes the difference.

But costumes aside, this is one wonderful show.

There isn't a headliner who plays Musicarnival who gives more of herself to a show than does Mitzi Gaynor.

The production gives no indication of being something trimmed down for the road. There is no comic to kill 20 minutes while the star rests. No other acts to pad things out.

This is all Mitzi Gaynor and all of Miss Gaynor is very nice indeed.

The show is billed as Mitzi Gaynor and A Cast of Thousands. A Cast of Thousand~ turns out to be a company of 14 singers and dancers, 10 men, four women, all of them good. They assist production numbers, keep things going while Miss Gaynor changes those 13 costumes and generally make things very pleasant.

They and the star have boundless energy. Although the entire production must have been designed to be done in air-conditioned night clubs, there was no stinting on the action, no slowing down inside Musicarnival's super-heated tent.

Everything about the Mitzi Gaynor show is big, beautiful and expensive -- especially by summer theater standards, and even by some winter theater standards.

The numbers have been elaborately and precisely staged and directed by Tony Charmoli, one of the best choreographers in the business. The musical arrangements are great and the orchestra pit may have had more musicians in it than usual. I'm not too sure. I was counting costumes, not musicians.

Unlike most of the repeat performances at the tent theater (Miss Gaynor was here last year) there was no repeated material. It's all new, folks, all fresh.

Miss Gaynor sings and dances to a wide variety of tunes, engages in some comic patter, carries on a love affair with her audience.

There's a medley of South American tunes for example with Miss Gaynor wearing some hip-hugging creation. Well, it wasn't exactly her hips that it was hugging.

And there's a salute to the 1940's that turned out to b e something unexpected. Most of the tunes were not the usual fare dug up by the nostalgia purveyors. Miss Gaynor reminded us that there was a war on then and it was a war that inspired a good deal of music -- from "Rosie the Riveter" to "White Cliffs of Dover," from "Bell Bottom Trousers" to "I'll Be Seeing You," and even "White Christmas."

Intended or not it is a curious commentary on those times and these. Those were songs of loneliness, longing and hope. The recent war has brought no comparable body of music. There's been loneliness and longing, but the missing element has been hope.

Now a word about standing ovations. Most performers get them at the tent theater. Some even deserve them. Most of the ovations come at the end when people are getting up to leave anyway.

Miss Gaynor received two standing ovations while several numbers were yet to be done. Those and the final one, with people really standing and waiting while she said good night made up three ovations that were genuine.

Miss Gaynor is wonderful and she swings a mean hip, or rather swings a lovely hip rather meanly. She's got sex with class, talent with expertise, showmanship with an obvious insistence on perfection.

It's hot work up there on stage these nights and she's probably sweating off a few pounds. Which is a shame. All of her is so lovely. Get out there quickly while there's plenty of her to see.