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The Theatre: New Musical in Manhattan: Dec. 5, 1938

2 minute read

The Boys from Syracuse (book by George Abbott; music & lyrics by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart; produced by George Abbott) beans the niggerbaby, hits the bull’s eye, rings the bell. Far & away the best musical show in many a year, it pilfers from Shakespeare the plot of his Comedy of Errors. Otherwise Shakespeare is not smart enough to stay in the combine of George Abbott, Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart, who set themselves a dizzy pace and cross the tape a little ahead of time.

No great asset is Shakespeare’s hoary plot about twin sets of masters and slaves, one set married, the other not, one set from Ephesus, the other from Syracuse, who get hold of the wrong latchkeys, land in the wrong boudoirs, mix everybody up, finally mix up themselves. But the plot is daffy enough to start the fun rolling. Once started, nothing can stop it.

The troop of headliners associated with The Boys from Syracuse is no mere Who’s Whooey. Every one knows his job. Every cook makes a contribution to the broth. Playwright Abbott provides a sound book (least brilliant part of the show) ; Director Abbott, whirlwind direction that keeps it moving, moving, moving; Comic Jimmy Savo contributes wild-eyed dimwit mischief; Fat Girl Wynn Murray, dishpan antics and Amazonian sex threats; Lorenz Hart, brash, bawdy, witty lyrics (best line: She was so chaste that it made her very nervous); Rodgers, a gay, bright lilting score, never better than it is in This Can’t Be Love, Sing for Your Supper and He and She.

Actress Marcy Wescott is fair of face. Actress Muriel Angelus is full of grace. Eddie Albert, last year a frisky, puzzled Brother Rat. this year makes a no less puzzled Twin Brother Antipholus. Fast, lively, imaginative is the dancing. Casting, directing and timing are perfect. Dowagers leave the theatre like subdebs, whistling the most melodious tunes that a Rodgers & Hart musical has had in several years.

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