VAGABOND KING, THE [Musical Revival*] B/LY: Brian Hooker and Russell Janney; M: Rudolf Friml; D: George Ermoloff; CH: Igor Schwezoff; S: Raymond Sovey ; C: James Reynolds; P: Russell Janney; T: Shubert Theatre; 6/29/43 (56)
This first New York revival of the romantic 1925 operetta hit had a mixed reception. Instead of getting a lush new treatment, wrote George Jean Nathan ( TBY), "the manner suggested a fancy dress party of haberdashery clerks and their ladies." The new Villon was Metropolitan Opera singer John Brownlee, whose diction, said Nathan, turned a line like "Would it not be a pity, sweet lady?" into "Would ut nut be pity, sweat lady?" His Katherine de Vaucelles was played by beauteous Frances McCann, who departed the cast of Rosalinda to take the role.
Some critics defended the stars, but most approved their singing more than their histrionics. Brownlee especially seemed a wooden reminder of Dennis King's Villon. Also in the cast were José Ruben as a spidery Louis XI (one of the better performances), Will H. Philbrick as the comical Guy Tabarie, Arline Thomson as Huguette, Douglas Gilmore as Tristan l'Hermite, Ben Roberts as Thibaut D'Aussigny, Teri Keane as Lady Mary, Betty Berry as the queen, and Curtis Cooksey as the effeminate Oliver le Dain, among others.
On the whole, the reviewers thought the book mildewed and creaky and its attempts at humor labored, but the score melodious and worth listening to again. "All in all," went Howard Barnes ( NYHT) middling verdict, "the present revival of a second-rate musical play is on the sorry side." But apart from his distress at Brownlee's casting and the staging of one of the numbers, Burton Rascoe ( NYWT) applauded the show as "far more sumptuous and exhilarating than the original." The songs that stood out were "Drinking Song," "Only a Rose," "Love Me Tonight," "Song of the Vagabonds," and "Serenade."
VELVET GLOVE, THE [Comedy/Journalism/Religion/Old Age/Politics/University] A: Rosemary Casey; D/P: Guthrie McClintic; S/L: Donald Oenslager; T: Booth Theatre; 12/26/49 (152)
Veteran Broadway star Grace George was the chief draw in this comically mild defense of freedom of speech set within the office of a mother superior at a convent in northern New York. Ten days after the opening, on a Friday, George's husband, long-time producer William A. Brady, passed away, but George and her granddaughter Barbara Brady (making her Broadway debut in the play) went on with the show like troupers and did not miss a performance.
The Velvet Glove pictured George as the kindly Mother-General Hildebrand, celebrating her silver anniversary in God's service when she encounters a serious problem that she overcomes by using her native wit and good sense. The archconservative Bishop Gregor ( John Williams) has decided to dismiss progressive, young, lay history professor Tom Pearson ( James Noble) from his teaching position at the Catholic girls' university. The reason is Pearson's expression of liberal sentiments,
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Publication information: Book title: The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage, 1940-1950. Contributors: Samuel L. Leiter - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1992. Page number: 669.
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