The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage, 1940-1950

By Samuel L. Leiter | Go to book overview
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CABALGATA [Revue] D/CH/C: Daniel Cordoba; P: Sol Hurok for Daniel Cordoba; T: Broadway Theatre; 7/7/49 (76)

A flamboyantly colorful Spanish revue of songs and dances, primarily the latter. Cabalgata, which means "cavalcade," proved to be "a fresh, vibrant evening's entertainment from the initial click of the inevitable castanets," reported Lewis Funke ( NYT). The show, created in 1942, had been playing continuously in Spain and on tour in Latin America ever since. It came to New York from a West Coast engagement. Because it was essentially a dance show, non-Spanish-speaking audiences were able to enjoy it fully. The music had been selected from a study of 9,000 traditional pieces. A wide range of authentic Spanish dance styles was displayed by a company of sixty singers, dancers, and musicians.

Among the female dancers were the exquisite Carmen Vazquez, the critics' favorite, who showed her talent in the Asturias and Flamenco styles; Pilar Calvo, whose passionate nature was shown in the zambra; and lighthearted ballerinas Pepita Marco and Floriana Alba. Male dancers included José Toledano, Julio Toledo, and Fernandez Vargas. Solo dances were mingled with ensemble numbers, such as the electric "Rondalla Aragonesa" and "Jota." Drapes backed some numbers, and for others a colorfully painted backdrop was used.

A critical split decision greeted the show. Funke said that despite the all-Spanish nature of the program, it rarely descended into monotony and proved a richly diverting experience. But Richard Watts Jr. ( NYP), thought that it was indeed monotonous and was more for specialists than the average showgoer. The enthusiastic Robert Coleman ( NYDM) felt that it "speaks through the feet, hands, figures of its graceful performers. There are no lulls. It moves with express-train speed and admirable precision." But Arthur Pollock ( DC) decided that while it was "picturesque," "there is really nothing genuinely magnifico or terrifico or estupendo or prodigioso about it." He said that seen on a large Broadway stage, the company seemed "only average," none of its members being on the level of such famous Latin dancers as Carmen Amaya and Pilar Gomez.

During the run, the show changed its name to A Night in Spain.

CABIN IN THE SKY [Musical/Blacks/Death/Fantasy/Gambling/Marriage/Religion/Rural/Southern] B: Lynn Root; M: Vernon Duke; LY: John Latouche; D: George Balanchine and Albert Lewis; CH: George Balanchine; DS: Boris Aronson; P: Albert Lewis i/a/w Vinton Freedley; T: Martin Beck Theatre; 10/25/40 (156)

A popular musical folk-fantasy (originally titled Little Joe) about rural Southern blacks that had echoes of The Green Pastures* and Liliom*, that represented Vernon Duke's major Broadway effort, that provided George Balanchine with his first Broadway directorial job, and that allowed Ethel Waters to play her sole role in a Broadway book musical.

Brooks Atkinson ( NYT) was one of many who raised their voices in praise of this production, calling it "original and joyous in an imaginative vein that suits the

-93-

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