Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"Wildcat" Gushes Fun at Big Tent

Cleveland Press August 6, 1963

Musicarnival's production of "Wildcat" has a rousing conclusion in which a gusher goes off in a very realistic oil well rigging.

It's almost worth waiting for.

But it underlines both the strength and weakness of this musical comedy. The Musicarnival staff has had to reach deeply into its bag of tricks, and every time one is pulled off the production moves along.

The weakness is not in the production but the original property -- a limp, tedious script that says and does little in its allotted time.

Norma Doggett in Lead

This show starred Lucille Ball in 1960. It's apparent that it was written with Miss Ball's peculiar talents in mind. The result is a long I Love Lucy in the Oil fields episode.

Leading character is a gal named Wildcat Jackson, a harum-scarum type who piles complication upon complication, lie upon lie in her attempt to strike it rich in the oil fields.

Norma Doggett as Wildcat is wild and ungainly, a frantic sprite who moves about the stage with comic suppleness. Though she spoke her lines clearly enough, her voice on opening night was extremely thin whenever she sang, seldom carrying beyond the first few rows.

As Joe Dynamite, Mark Dawson is a barrel-chested man with voice to match. He sings with a rousing, virile sound and is a good actor besides.

Maryann Hillyer Fine

Maryann Hillyer is pretty and pleasing and displays a fine voice in a few numbers allotted her.

Robert Miragliotta, a Musicarnival regular who has had small parts all season, clowns with gay abandon as Sookie -- "the dirtiest little man in the Western Hemisphere."

Though N. Richard Nash's book is flat and Carolyn Leigh's lyrics only passable, Cy Coleman's music is charming and in several instances quite good.

Tunes Come Across

Best-known tune in the show is the boastful "Hey, Look Me Over!" But there are others that come across well, especially the cheerful "What Takes My Fancy" and "Give a Little Whistle."

Bright and festive is the staging, complete with black light and luminous costumes and decorations, of the fiesta number.

It's another bit of business that helps to save the show.