Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"Carnival" Stirs Musicarnival Fans

Cleveland Press June 11, 1963

We're all familiar with the play-within-a-play technique. Now Musicarnival offers us a circus within a circus.

"Carnival" is that unusual, charming musical that opens without an overture and with nothing but an empty stage before the audience.

Jacquot, the puppeteer's assistant, wanders onto the stage. Slowly, faintly, he picks out a melody on his concertina. The orchestra picks it up and begins to build on it. Roust-abouts and circus performers move into view, filling the aisles as they make toward the stage to set up.

A Natural Setting

In Musicarnival's tent with its arena stage it's quite natural to have these people come into view all around you, to have a circus parade start down one aisle, occupy the stage, and then move off through another aisle.

This production retains all the magic -- the sIightIy dream-like characteristics of the play. One by one the characters are introduced and developed -- Lili, the naive waif, Paul, the bitter puppeter, Marco, the dashing rogue of a magician.

Pace Speeds Up

With this leisurely development the first act is somewhat slower than that in the average musical. But the second act moves at a stepped up pace, more in the musical comedy tradition.

Marcia King as Lili can sing and act. Her voice is good and she sings with feeling. Marring her performance last night was a case of laryngitis that caused her voice to fade during some of the early numbers.

After the intermission rest her voice soared out as it should and she was strong in the difficult "I Hate Him" number winch calls for equal parts of singing and acting. Singing it must have been painful, but she succeeded.

Brooks Sings Well

The big number for Lili is still "Love Makes th World Go Round" and Miss King sang it charmingly.

As Paul, Robert Brooks was unhappy and bitter, but he did not overplay the role. His baritone voice is rich and colorful and full of meaning in such numbers as "Her Face" and "She's My Love."

Brooks is also convincing in providing the voices for four delightful puppets. These creations of the prop department stop the show several times.

Joan Kibrig Is Adept

Jerry Rice is a nimble, ingratiating Jacquot. Joan Kibrig, as the magician's assistant, proves that she is equally adept as singer an comedienne.

Richard Tone acts the rogue with grand gestures, dances excitingly in the number, "Sword, Rose and Cape."