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The Playgoer

At The Boston Opera House

By W. E. H.

Japan, Victorian England, and Harlem is a wild combination in any man's way of thinking. But such a combination conceived by Messrs. Todd, Short, and Robinson, and put on as "The Hot Mikado" is an all-time high in sacrilegious lunacy. Gilbert and Sullivan worshippers would probably rather hear a Goodman rendition of Beethoven's Ninth than their beloved "Mikado" slapped into the groove by a lot of Darktown strutters. But like so many iconoclasts, Michael Todd seems to be getting away with his Great Idea and packing the houses as royally as any D'Oyly Carte company ever did.

The trouble is that Mr. Todd doesn't seem to have the courage of his convictions. For instance, after whooping up the "Three Little Maids" red hot out of a ladies' seminary with a gorgeous syncopated score and a crew of jitterbugs in the best traditions of Harlem's Savoy, if not the London Savoy, he promptly repents his sins and returns to the original G. & S. script for a while. Heaven forbid that any criticism should be smeared on the original, but it did sound pretty dull. It's too bad that Mr. Todd couldn't bury his conscience deep enough to let Charles Cook, his arranger, swing the whole score instead of just throwing in a jam session here and there.

In mentioning the performance itself, of course, remarks might be passed on about the remarkable costuming, about the Savannah heat-wave, Rose Brown, whose Kaisha was vaguely reminiscent of Josephine Baker, but it's all quite futile. The show belongs to the great Bojangles. The rest of the cast can only be thankful that they have a chance to do something in the first act, for when Robinson comes on in the second, he takes over and all the rest of the cast can do is sit back and shrug. It would be nice to bounce one's grand-children on one's knee many years hence and tell them about Bill Robinson. But the chances are that it won't be necessary, for he'll probably still be dancing then,--and in "The Hot Mikado."

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