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THE PLAYGOER

At the Shubert

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Two smashing successes in two years is the record Buddy DeSylva has compiled on the musical comedy stage. First, in "Stars in Your Eyes," he had the irrepressible combination of Ethel Merman and Jimmy Durante to put across some of Cole Porter's best songs. Last year Bert Lahr's contortions replaced Durante's wheezings and the resultant "DuBarry Was a Lady" was as much a hit as its predecessor. And now the Shubert stage has DeSylva's latest offering, with Miss Merman the lone star, surrounded by a cordon of well-known and capable performers drawn from the stage, screen and good old-fashioned burlesque.

In addition to Ethel's native ability, there are the superb antics of a sailor trio from the Idaho, Arthur Treacher's poker-faced buttling, and the inhuman jitterbug energy of Betty Hutton to keep the show at a lively pace. Costuming and scenery are done in the best Panamanian manner by Raoul DuBois, and the book of Fields and DeSylva is good musical comedy stock. Added up, this should be the proper formula for another Broadway hit, but in its embryonic stages the show does not yet live up to its promise. "Panama Hattie" still gives the impression of dragging, so that it never during its two long acts settles down to the evening of pure fun the audience expects. However, the material is there now, and by the time it hits New York, the show should be well enough ironed out to hit the jackpot.

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