TAKE A BOW [Revue] D: Wally Wanger; CH: Marjery Fielding; S: Kaj Velden; C: Ben Wallace; P: Lou Walters; T: Broadhurst Theatre; 6/15/44 (12)
The onslaught of attempts to revive vaudeville in the 1940s suffered a mild setback with this uninspired show featuring Jay C. Flippen as MC, with piano-playing Chico Marx of the Marx Brothers attempting without much success to infuse the evening with madcap zaniness. Flippen's material was musty and sometimes off- color. The acts all seemed old-hat, although several of them did momentarily enliven the evening, especially the acrobatic Whitson Brothers and a talented baggy- pants pantomime comedian and banjo player named Gene Sheldon. Among his numbers was an old poker-game skit called "Don't Play with Strangers," which he shared with Marx, and which came from the Marx Brothers' hit of many years earlier, The Cocoanuts*.
The program was filled out with such entertainers as tap dancer Johnny Mack; white-haired soft-shoe man Pat Rooney, celebrating his fiftieth year in vaudeville; magician "Think-a-Drink" Hoffman, who made any kind of drink appear on demand from two empty shakers and a pitcher of water; comedy singers Cross and Dunn; ballroom dance experts Mary Raye and Naldi; and others.
Those who liked this sort of show felt that it was a decent example of the genre. Such was Howard Barnes ( NYHT), who termed it "familiar, fast-paced and funny." Those who did not--the majority--thought it a dull and routine assortment of acts completely lacking in variety. This group included Burton Rascoe ( NYWT), who claimed that the show "is thrown together haphazardly and without taste."
TAKE IT AS IT COMES [Comedy/Broadcasting/Crime/Drugs/Family/Journalism/Marriage/Politics/Small Town/Youth] A: E. B. Morris; D: Anthony Brown; S: Perry Watkins; P: Armin L. Robinson; T: Forty-eighth Street Theatre; 2/10/44 (16)
There were few takers for this "mechanical and tedious little banality about the ups and downs of a small-town family," as Burton Rascoe ( NYWT) described it. The play was "dull, harmless, straggling," said Ward Morehouse ( NYS). E. B. Morris was the pseudonym of a Warner Brothers attorney named Morris Ebbenstein.
In Wiltonwood, New Jersey, in the year 1939 ("the good old days," said the program), resides the all-American Bliven family, father Albert ( Frank Wilcox), the decent and friendly school superintendent; his wife Cora ( Louise Lorimer); their unmarried daughter ( Angela Jacobs), who loves the poetic boy (Richard Basehart) who works in the library; their married daughter ( Marilyn Monk) and her struggling lawyer husband ( Harry Pedersen); their Boy Scout son Tommy ( Jackie Ayers); and Mrs. Bliven's old-maid sister ( Sara Floyd). A Swedish maid ( Gloria Willis) rounds out the household. The Blivens are selected by the inspirational Fireside magazine, the family's favorite, as the model American family." The magazine's quack editor ( Harold Moulton) appears with his staff and with radio personnel to do a broadcast from the house, but their preparations are interrupted by the machine-gun murder