"Blame It on the Movies!" is an overstuffed, unoriginal musical revue, featuring too many songs from too many movies.
The show, which opened recently at off-Broadway's Criterion Center Stage Left, forsakes much of the familiar movie musical material and concentrates on songs from non-musical films. That means a lot of overwrought title tunes from a lot of overwrought films such as "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing," "An Affair to Remember" and "The Long Hot Summer."Most of this moist music is sung during a segment saluting songs from 20th Century-Fox movies. It's the best constructed of the evening's half dozen or so long segments. The cast of eight singers and dancers - particularly Patty Tiffany and Bill Hutton - wring out each tear. It's the most emotion they show all evening.
There are nearly 80 different songs in the revue, but most of them whiz by in a blur, short musical phrases that sometimes seem no more than a song title. Director David Galligan won't let the show or the performers stop moving. What it lacks in style and fun, it makes up for in speed.
Barbara Sharma, who has a Betty Boop voice and a pretty good Woody Woodpecker laugh, portrays the revue's one character, an usherette who links the various portions of the entertainment together. There's music from the 1940s, a World War II segment and a homage to songs which lost Academy Awards. Miss Sharma also mugs and sings some forgettable new material by veteran revue specialist Billy Barnes.
The performers often sound mechanical, their voices not enhanced by the theater's tinny sound system. The singers work hard but there is no spark or spontaneity to their performances.
There is one plus, though. Theatergoers are given boxes of popcorn as they enter the auditorium. The corn is freshly popped and tasty, but even it doesn't help after a while. Watching "Blame It on the Movies!" is like sitting through a bad double-feature with no cartoon.