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"Pins and Needles," the Labor Stage musical review put on by the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union, is a merry miscellany of comic sketches, music, and dance, properly shot through with social significance, but with no especially grim grinding of axes. Insofar as the show is a vehicle for any serious message from Labor, the latter declares its youthfulness and strength and its determination to get what's coming to it, but it is so free from vindictiveness and revolutionary urging that the spectators, no matter what their social complexion, applaud spontaneously without any secret twinges of alarm.
Mussolini comes in for the lion's share of the ribbing. First he is shown awarding the Victor Emmanuel Fertility Cup and other similar awards to a group of buxom mass-production mothers, after which public enemy number one comes forward to bewail the fact in a variety of ingenious ways that she can produce only one at a time. Il Duce appears again, as one of the "Four Little Angels of Peace," the others being Hitler, Chamberlain, and an anonymous Jap. They all demonstrate their benevolence by treacherously and amusingly destroying one another. There is a denunciation of war, carried out by rather obscure ballet, and jibes are distributed to the Vassar girl who finds a job at Macy's, the upper crust on a slumming party, the 100 percent American, and the Federal Theatre, with its repressions and inhibitions, all of which are quite effective except the last, which drags. The most fun of the whole show, however, is the scene called Economics I, in which the elementary principles are set forth by having the banker shoot in the pants, the manufacturer, who breaks a victrola record over the head of the wholesaler, who somehow arouses the retailer, who squirts fizz water in the face of the consumer.
The music and lyrics are by Harold J. Rome, and at least one of the songs, "Sing Me a Song of Social Significance," is extremely entertaining. Not much is demanded in the way of acting, but all the players swing through their parts with a pleasing gusto, and Ruth Rubenstein, who does most of the female specialties, is quite charming in her pouting way.
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