Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Cruise a Bit Long for "Show Boat"

Cleveland Press June 15, 1965

"Show Boat" is starting to enter that area occupied by such as motherhood and Boy Scouts and anyone who criticizes it is a cad. The performers in this Musicarnival production do nothing to endanger this musical's durable position.

The production, on the other hand, is a rather loose jointed one and runs a trifle too long especially for a show as familiar as this one.

For lovers Magnolia and Gaylord Ravenal producer Johnny Price is fortunate in having Judith McCauley -- winsome and innocent looking -- and Mace Barrett -- handsome and debonair. Their voices are nicely matched for the popular Kern-Hammerstein duets; "Only Make Believe," "You Are Love" and "Why Do I Love You?"

CAPTAIN ANDY is a character full of good cheer and so is Alfred Dennis by the way he looks and acts. As his wife, Cynthia Latham is properly shrewish.

Lynn Osborne as Julie does an emotional job on "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" and "Bill." William C. Smith is Joe, the fellow that sings "Ole' Man River" and though he has a good bass-baritone voice, his rendition of the familiar number was a trifle shaky opening night.

Dick Latessa plays Frank a comic song and dance man. If Musicarnival can hang onto him he would make a very pleasant and capable comic lead for the rest of the summer. His comic bits are skillfully done without being too broad and his singing and dancing are more than adequate.

A FINALE that doesn't come until 11:40 p. m. is too late for even the best of the current musicals and will hardly do at all for a 38-year-old perennial. And therein lies the flaw in this production.

It is too long and much of this could be corrected. Much of it probably will, since some time was lost with balky trap doors and cumbersome props, problems that can be spotted opening night and eliminated later.

But some of the length comes in bits and pieces of material that have been added to brighten a stickily sentimental plot. A Charleston dance number just before the finale isn't done well enough to keep in at any point in the show, and when it comes at 11:35 p. m. it definitely ought to go.

For all of it's sentiment, the play-book for "Show Boat" is still far better than those provided for most musicals. Better to stop worrying about old-fashioned romantics, play it straight and get on to the songs. They are still the best part of this show and the Musicarnival performers do them beautifully.