The 1934 theatrical season will go down in history as “The Year of Revivals.” Gilbert & Sullivan, Victor Herbert and Oscar Strauss were but three of the oldtimers whose works were resurrected for Broadway presentation. In addition, there was a series of revivals of musical comedies of the past ten years and now, as the last theatrical offering until August first, when the new season commences, Dimitri Ostrov offers at the Lyric Theatre a modernized version of Balfe’s light opera, “The Bohemian Girl,” under the title of “Gypsy Blonde.”
Unlike other revivals which were merely new productions of old favorites; “The Bohemian Girl” has become “Gypsy Blonde,” and although most of the original tunes, such as “I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls” and “You’ll Remember Me” have been retained, new melodies, new lyrics and a different book have been introduced. In Balfe’s version Baron Arnheim was a foreign nobleman whose daughter Arline had been kid-naped by gypsies many years before an American millionaire with a flashy Westchester home and his daughter is portrayed as a headstrong flapper who runs off with a gypsy band with no other thought than having a good time and being with her lover, who turns out to be an escaped convict who had been mixed in some political trouble. You are also given to understand that Arline was fleeing from the attentions of her fiance, a typical musical comedy Englishman.
If you are one of those persons hopelessly enamored of the original edition you will find the proceedings at the Lyric very queen indeed, especially when the strains of a rhumba reach your ears and a scantily-dressed chorus bounces out on the stage and begins the gyrations that accompany a tune of that type. Another element of strangeness is the use of words and phrases in the dialogue which are pertinent only to current happenings. If you can forget your memories of “The Bohemian Girl” this present version is not without its moments. Belle Didjah does several solo dances that are thoroughly enjoyable, the chorus sings and dances well, and although George Trabert as the lover does not take his work too seriously and is inclined to smirk a bit, he has a pleasant voice and is personable. Isabel Henderson, as Arline, plays and sings her role with confidence and some skill, but she too does not get into the spirit of the thing. Her rendition of some numbers reminds one of a cabaret singer who was told she had a grand opera voice.
“Gypsy Blonde” is a motion picture producer’s idea of how to make “The Bohemian Girl” palatable for mass consumption.
New York has banned Mae West’s “It Ain’t No Sin.” Paramount announces that the script will be changed and some of the shots will be retaken. This news will not hurt the film’s success, as people will certainly want to see if the censorship was thorough enough.
Recommended â€” “Kykunkor,” â€” the African dance drama which is playing at the Little Theatreâ€”very elemental but torrid stuff. Harlem and Africa without clothes. . . . “Operator 13,” at the Capitol, an ordinary picture, but containing some proof that Marion Davies is, after all these years, an actress. . . . “Viva Villa,” at Loew’s State, and Barney Ross on the stage. . . . Today at the Paramount, Max Baer will start a week’s engagement. The picture will be “Kiss and Make Up.” with Cary Grant and Genevieve Tobin. . . “In the Land of the Soviets,” at the Acme Theatre.