Billy Rose, who makes up for his small stature with a display of dynamic energy that leaves most of his friends and followers wilted with trying to keep up with him, has added another venture to his growing list of amusement projects. Last week he opened his new place, The Music Hall, on Broadway between Fifty-third and Fifty-fourth street, and as these lines go pressward it is running along merrily and noisily.
You can’t afford to miss one visit to this combined vaudeville, movie, eating, drinking and dancing establishment. I say one visit, because chances are you will never go back again, but you simply must try it once. For sheer bad taste and garishness Billy Rose’s place has few equals. As a base Rose rented the old Hammerstein Theatre, removed the seats and put in tables and chairs. In the basement he built a barroom and thickly laid on a Barbary Coast atmosphere.
The idea is that you go in, sit down at one of the tables which are about as large as a checker board, and order, at very moderate prices, a dinner. In front of you is a stage, upon which a line of girls dance, vaudeville acts do their turn, and news reels and animated cartoons flash. In between the entertainment the stage is cleared and the audience is invited to dance to the tunes of one of two loud but hot orchestras. After dancing the waiters group themselves upon the stage and sing old favorites, barroom ditties, airs that are calculated to give you a nostalgic for the alleged good old days. If this sort of thing begins to pall you may adjourn to the downstairs bar and indulge.
I only stayed at the Music Hall for four hours, so I am not positive I saw all there was to be seen, but I do know that the food is very ordinary, the entertainment fairly good and the prices reasonable. Drinks, however, come a little high and it is best to have at least three before you swish into the very red and golden reception room. In favor of the Music Hall I recommend the air-cooled atmosphere which permits you to sip alcoholic beverages without necessitating the immediate removal of your collar and shirt, Also to be praised is the piano player who bangs out tunes on a midget piano in the middle of the barroom.
The Music Hall has other advantagesâ€”you will probably never meet any of your friends there. Most of the crowd looked as though it just got over the ferry boat from Weehawken or Hoboken or left the dishes in the sink and went out for a big evening. Rose feels that the boys and girls not in the “bucks,” as the boys in Harlem say, should have a place to go that will fill their eyes, ears and stomachs, and in which they will not have to leave the rubber on their bankrolls, too.
Billy Rose’s Music Hall is very elegant. It is the answer to that constantly shouted request, “Louder and Funnier.”
Forty-eight feature pictures, including successful stage plays and best seller novels, with such talent as Frank Capra, Howard Hawks, Victor Schertzinger, Claudette Colbert, Grace Moore, Edward G. Robinson, Warner Baxter, Myrna Loy, Boris Karloff, Jack Holt, Gene Raymond and Edmund Lowe, will be distributed by Columbia Pictures during 1934-35. In addition, there will be a diversity of short subjects comprising eight series of single reel attractions and twenty-six two-reel short subjects.
“That’s Gratitude,” “Eight Bells,” “$25 An Hour,” “Spring 3100,” are among the successful stage plays, and I.A.R. Wylie’s “Feather in Her Hat,” and Bruce Manning’s “Party Wire,” are listed among the book properties to be brought to the screen.