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The Playgoer

"Babes in Arms", with Mitzi Green, is Far From Brilliant, But Is Saved By Songs and Vivacity


"Babes in Arms" is a fairly successful attempt to put over a musical comedy with the exuberance borrowed from youth. Some youths get up and sing in defiant tones that although they may be babes in arms they are also babes in armor, and that they'll show the world, or words to that effect. One can scarcely feel that their predicament is a common complaint: they seem to be the offspring of a whole town full of vandeville players who hit the road and leave the children to fare for themselves or go to the governmentally sponsored "farm", where, it is universally agreed, nothing obtains but the basest of slavery. So the youths rise in arms. Their actions are not youthful or particularly appropriate to any stage of human life for that matter, and their speech, nothing if not funny, is not even that save in two or three eminent instances. But the exuberance is there in full measure; it and several lilting tunes save the show from the doldrums, and make it more than passably pleasant.

One aspect of this exuberance is the obvious pains that Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart have put themselves to in writing the book. They have tried so hard to make their product entertaining that one is somehow won over by the pervasive enthusiasm, and persuaded to forgive them the lack of any brilliance. Their attempts at social comment are especially feeble. They apparently felt that no play could dare to appear before this hyper-socially-conscious world without some reference to President Roosevelt, the American race problem, Communism, and "Comes the Revolution", even if that play be an avowed farce. Their allusions to these matters betray an awkwardness and an uneasiness and nothing more.

There is, as suggested, a semblance of a plot, but there are many digressions from it. These are justified by some of the vocal and choreographical effects contained in them, but the means of introducing them is annoyingly callow.

Mitzi Green is the main person in the show. She is still the funny-looking girl she was in the movies, and she still makes the same alarming faces. But she is especially endowed with the vivacity that characterizes the whole show. The rest of the giant cast is competent but undistinguished.

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