Taking the old ones down from the shelf and dusting them off is developing into what seems to be a positive, and certainly must be a paying mania of the Messrs. Shubert, Last year it was "Rose Marie" and "Blossom Time"; this year it has already been "The Student Prince," and now it is "Rio Rita"-the latest to be ground out of the Shubert revival mill. Like warmed-over carrot pudding they are never so good as at the original scrving, but the old always come back for a nostalgic second and the young to see what their elders used to rave about. "Rio Rita" serves these twin motives neither better nor worse than its predecessors.
It is easy to see what made "Rio Rita" one of the Great Ziegfeld's greatest in the syncopated 'twenties. The production is full of chorus numbers, bright seenery and such well-known songs as "The March of the Rangers." "Ay Ay Ay" and, of course, "Rio Rita." Of these, only the music still contains any real appeal, and coupled with the present popularity of the Latin American subject, gives the revival a "raison d'etre." At tempts to bring the lines up to date enjoy only the mildest of success.
The principal members of the cast are old hands at their game: most of them were seen last year in "Rose Marie," and have simply shifted from a surrounding of Canadian Mounties to one of Texas Rangers. Nancy McCord is still the best, with a voice and personality that merit better use: Alexander Gray is still too short, but adequate; and Rope Emerson is still the biggest woman we have ever seen on the stage, and quite humorous when she throws her weight around or beats a poor little piano to death. Add one very funny swivel hipped, unjointed dancer named Mclissa Mason, and you have all the reasons why "Rio Rita" is as pleasant now as it was terrific then-a fair ratio for any revival.