you are like me, you probably have a nostalgic heart. The fact that you read
Cinema Retro is a major clue. Have you ever yearned to spend an evening in the
past, a la Gil (Owen Wilson) in Woody Allen's “Midnight in Paris?” What if I
told you how to experience an evening with Josephine Baker, Fanny Brice, Marion
Davies, Will Rogers and Florenz Ziegfeld for a show at his famous theater that
is hosted by Eddie Cantor? Would you go?
real life can not actually bring you back in time to do so, Cynthia Von Buhler
can, and has, with her new iTheater production “Ziegfeld's Midnight Frolic”
current running on Friday and Saturday evenings at the Liberty Theater on 42nd
Street in NYC. Cynthia's previous interactive and immersive shows
“The Bloody Beginning” and “The Brothers Booth” were wonderful productions that
brought audience members into the cast playing famous (and not so famous)
characters that interacted with the show and cast members. The Frolic takes you
one step closer and one step beyond.
show centers around the tragic death of Olive Thomas, a small town girl who
moved to NY in 1914 to seek her fame and fortune at 17 years old. She started
out as a model and won the title of “Most Beautiful Girl in NY.” The following
year she starred as a Ziegfeld girl in one of his most risque shows held late
nights in a smaller stage at the top of The New Amsterdam Theater. She had a
four-year film career and married Jack Pickford, the younger brother of film
star Mary Pickford. She died, under mysterious circumstances, in Paris, in 1920
when she drank mercury bichloride. It was one of the first heavily publicized
members 'travel' between Paris - the Cabaret du Néant (Cabaret of Nothingness).
VIP ticket purchasers party for half an hour at a “champagne orgy” with Alberto
Vargas and scantily clad Ziegfeld girls including the aforementioned ladies.
You can also visit the room of honeymooners Pickford and Thomas at the Ritz
Hotel but are eventually whisked magically back to NYC to watch the “Midnight
Frolic” and back to Paris for the death scene and investigations.
Moskowitz and Joey Calveri shine as the doomed couple and perform some
wonderful stage numbers. Delysia La Chatte is Josehine Baker incarnate. Chris
Fink as Eddie Cantor controls the show as emcee. Other standout performers are
dancer Brianna Hurley, Heather Bunch as “the down and out lady” and Erica
Vlahinos as Fanny Brice who will knock you out with her songs. The music is all
1920s but there are a couple of rearranged recent hit songs given a jazz era
arrangement that will pleasantly surprise you. Did I mention the aerialists?
Amazing. How they do it with so little clothing on is a wonder.
Midnight Frolic” is running under a well-deserved extension for the next two
weeks. I hope it will continue its run. I know I'm going back to see it again.
I didn't get to see everything - there is so much to see and do, so many nooks and
crannies to visit, too many flirtatious flappers, well, you get the idea. To
learn more visit speakeasydollhouse.com where you can also purchase tickets.
There is also a prix fixe dinner option available. I did not eat the night I
attended but people I spoke with enjoyed the meal. It must, however, be reserved in advance.
Details are available on the website.
web-site disclaimer: “PLEASE BE ADVISED: THIS SHOW CONTAINS JAZZ, LIQUOR
& FAST WOMEN” is well-deserved. So are all the rave reviews this show