When the Theater Guild, fortress of American dramatic art, presents a musical review that most certainly is news. Knowing the penchant of the Guild for the unusual, one would suspect that "Parade, A Satirical Revue," conceals beneath its orthodox song and dance title something new and surprising in the line of musicals and this proves completely and satisfyingly the truth. Once the run-of-the-mill opening has been gotten over, "Parade" develops rapidly into a most unusual and refreshingly progressive undertaking.
The book (product of the combined efforts of Paul Peters, George Sklar, Frank Gabrielson, and David Lesan) although arranged in the conventional form of independent sketches, has a definite and consistent undertone of social consciousness. Starting off with biting and amusing satire on the devious methods of the New Deal, it grows into a subtle and persuasive indictment of some of the more annoying phases of our social attitude. Toward the end of the performance the attack became vigorous, and seemed to make the assembled gentry a bit unhappy, but Boston first night audiences cannot be expected to wax enthusiastic at this discomforting anti-Beacon Hillism. This preaching tendency will no doubt be modified as the run goes on; Monday night's presentation was obviously a tryout.
The chief merit of the show is its excellent dancing. The Modern Dancers group, headed by Dorothy Fox and Esther Junger, offers some truly brilliant choreography in the modern tones. The music is good and provides a satisfying rhythmic background. Among the more amusing song-offerings were Eve Arden's rippingly funny take-off on the American Legion, D. A. R. ladies, entitled "Send for the Militia," and Evelyn Dall's striking presentation of "Selling Sex." Avis Andrews' singing of "You Ain't So Hot," is very effective. Jimmy Save, the comic headliner, is well known for his pantomimic nonsense, which he presented with highly successful effect, running the gamut from starving wayfarer to bloated capitalist.
The whole cast participates with an amazing amount of energy and verve with the result that the less successful features of the show are drowned in a contagious wave of rhythm.