New York Play Review: Play With Me, Daily Racing Form, 1959-05-05


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P L AY WITH ME Bv ***** Bo,t°» I I NEW YORK, May 4.— The intentions in "Come Play With Me" far outweigh the results, and what might have been a light and airy bubble dealing with nothing more bulky than an oddballs love for a circus ballerina is, because of weight in the libretto, a lesser item on the off -Broadway scene. The new piece at the York Theatre has an engaging score, attractive people, a winning setting and gaiety in costuming. The taste is impeccable and all it needs to get it off the ground is a better set of jokes and a little more clarity in the meaning of the evening. Most of the action is given into the care of two clowns, Donald Moffat and Philip Bruns, and they do their dead level best to keep things soaring and amusing. Their pranking has an artless way about it and their hopeless passion for the ballerina is straight out of the age-old concept that beneath each clowns painted face there lies anguish and there exists tears. Miss Haila Stoddard, a talented and beautiful young woman of the performing arts, here makes what amounts to her debut as a producer, I wish mightily that I could cheer her first effort and enthusiastically suggest that she go on to bigger things. Indeed, I think she probably will go on to bigger things and almost certainly better ones. There is no error commited here. She has assembeld a lot of pleasing small things and put them together and if it doesnt come off glossy and enticing there must be a reason. I wish I knew what it was. Money, resource, imagination all are present. The evening just didnt quite jell. Which is no reason for Miss Stoddard to fold her tent and run away. Let her try again. Tom Poston, a comedian who when he is good is very very good and when he is out of material cant cut the mustard, is New York Play Review with Mr. Bruns and Mr. Moffat a star of the evening, in the role never made clear of a young man from the audience who while dressed negligently cant overcome his ballerina, but the moment he dons white tie and tails and thrusts his head into an opera hat, becomes masterful and a conqueror. Now, it is sane to think that there is a hidden meaning here somewhere and that the transition has import not made plain in the play. The fourth star is Miss Liliane Montevec-chi, a lithe and fetching young lady of dance and enticement, and she is the girl the clown and Mr. Poston love to distrac tion. Well, no one could say they were ; wrong. She is remarkably attractive and undoubtedly can dance. "Come Play With Me" does not give her much opportunity to dance, which seems to me a pity and that a place in the evening should have , been found for her to solo at what she knows best. Five ballerinas and two men of ballet j j complete the circus ensemble and come in and out of the plot with artless innocence. ! Summed up, you have Miss Stoddards . .ambitions, which are laudable, four pleasing I stars, a nice ensemble, lovely music and i costumes and a stunning stylized circus tent. It all fills the eye and the ear. But it never satisfies the soul. l "Come Play With Me" is the show which was announced to open several weeks ago and then was withdrawn for further work and rehearsals andt probably, considerable changes. At one time it was a type of j j stylized commedian evening and now is more of a straight, small musical. It is i i based on a play by Marcel Achard, which bud a long run in Paris with, I think, Robert Dhery involved as the star. I Perhaps it is just one of those occasions j that didnt make the Atlantic crossing intact and unharmed. Dana Suesse is one who can have no fears for the evening. Her music is limber, light and ingratiating and her lyrics inventive and fresh. If ever any one went to a new show wanting all the good things to happen. 1 1 i 1 did. Some of the good things did happen. But not enough. j

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