New Girl in Town: New Girl in Town, Daily Racing Form, 1957-05-17


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NEW GIRL IN TOWN By Whitney Barton NEW XTI7,I7 7/~T Xr YORK, XT N. "V Y., May Tiir 1 16.— £ rP1-*i%-£ There 4c- is ic is nn4 not acting n/»fir»rt out Aiif iVio the otilrnrovH awkward "and o*- imnflv. i «a a girl «■ i 1 will will Vi/s be «**-ir* iv in «t!o whatever avav n-n «r K*t by NEW XTI7,I7 7/~T Xr YORK, XT N. "V Y., May Tiir 1 16.— £ rP1-*i%-£ There 4c- is going to be no high-domed nonsense here this morning as to whether an Eugene ONeill dramatic classic lends itself gracefully and fully to musical treatment, nor ever any serious consideration as to whether slick and artful musical hands should ever have been laid at all on an ONeill work. A work of theatre is a work of theatre and not a mystic or sacred emblem. If a story lends itself to music, use it, and I imagine the last person to shudder at the thought of capering girls and roistering sailors performing his work to beguiling music would have been the same Eugene ONeill. Whatever the ONeill idolators may feel or even say, "New Girl in Town" is a slick and artful musical show based with more than usual honesty on "Anna Christie." Looked upon as a musical, with all of a musicals formulae and giddy ways, the new show at the 46th Street Theatre is a swift and endearing thing, loaded with music, sparkling with dancing and played like silk. Miss Gwen Verdon, who seems to be able to play anything they put before her, is a tender and touching Anna, a lovely Anna, as foxie as a feather boa in the first scene and transforming gradually and inevitably into a stunned girl painfully but overwhelmingly in love. When she ic is nn4 not acting n/»fir»rt out Aiif iVio the otilrnrovH awkward "and o*- imnflv. i imperfect idyll of Anna and Mat, she is dancing like a thistle, prancing like a colt or, in a group with four other bedizened harlots, thumping out the most elemental and mocking ol all enticements: The brazen, I audacious hip-switch which is a trollops trademark from Waterloo Bridge to Port ! Saids Rue Vender or from Scollay Square | to Alameda Park. Bob Fosse has given her and all the ! dancers a cakewalk base, plus a dash of early ragtime, and has added a ballet of odd. provocative movement. Miss Verdon New York Play Review is vestal in a waltz and all joyousness in a number designed on the movements of a schooled horse. All that she does, and all that they do, is of a piece with the period of the show and Bob Merrills music, like the dancing partaking of that wondrous and giddy era which lay between the last throes of the cakewalk and the early lunges of ragtime, is perfect for the occasion. You can bet that a tuneful burlesque called "Sunshine Girl," a romantic solo called "Look at Er," and "Its Good to Be Alive" will be hits, and it may as well be put down as a warning to summer belles and autumn beaux right now that many «a a girl «■ i 1 will will Vi/s be «**-ir* iv in «t!o whatever avav n-n «r K*t by won, way, having some dancing Romeo whisper the words and hum the lilt of "Look at Er" into her ears. "Did You Close Your Eyes?" isnt going to be any great defender of public chastity, either. . Miss Verdon, blonde and pale this time instead of crimson-haired and wanton, is treasure all the way and she lights up New Girl in Town" with beauty and talent. George Wallace gives her excellent support as Mat Burke, her sailor suitor, and Cameron Prud Homme is a fine Chris, the father. The lady who takes possession of the stage and keeps it every time she is on is Miss Thelma Ritter as that raucous old rip, Marthy, the sweatered gargoyle of the New York waterfront, the rootless beldame of the saloons and the dives. She is consistently wonderful, dry and appealing. Mr. Merrills lyrics are of a piece with his gorgeous, active music and Rouben Ter-Arutunian has designed an eye-smacking production, laden with fresh and delightful costumes. If the professors of drama want a doughnut of deep thought to chew on while pondering dramatic infinity, Ill go along this far: It is almost impossible perfectly to wed stark, naked drama and driving, restless musical intention, a rather celebrated work called "Carmen" notwithstanding. The nub of things, probably, is that ONeill adorers may find a small reason here or there to be miffed and the public will love the "New Girl in Town." They should. Shes an attractive hussy.

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