Those wonderful afternoons at the movies during the 1930s and '40s, when you could see a real double feature - a splashy musical followed by a Marx Brothers comedy - will be recreated on Wednesday evening when the curtain goes up on Pioneer Theatre Company's 1992-93 season opener, "A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine." "Hollywood/Ukraine" is simply two one-act musical revues which, together, comprise a nostalgic spoof of Hollywood's golden age.It's guaranteed to delight not only those who still have fond memories of that era, but those who are too young to have known it. (I'm somewhere in between, getting hooked on movies in the late '40s and early '50s.)
Yes, the show has previously been staged by a handful of community theater companies around the region, but PTC's production, featuring the combined talents of six professional Actors Equity Association members and first-class behind-the-scenes support, should rank as the definitive version.
Guest director Pamela Hunt, making her PTC directorial debut, also directed the show for the San Jose Repertory Com-pany. Her cast includes Jim Bracchitta, Carol Dilley, Stacey Holt, Leslie Middlebrook, Scott Schafer and Peggy Taphorn, all Equity performers, and Mike Krsul and Angela Evans, both local actors.
The first act ("A Day in Hollywood") and the show's second act ("A Night in the Ukraine") have absolutely no connection.
The opening "Hollywood" segment presents six star-struck ushers and usherettes attired in Grauman's Chinese Theatre uniforms (back in the days when the famous showhouse was still Grauman's and not Mann's).
The ensemble sings and dances its way through a variety of routines, including a "Famous Feet" salute to everyone from Fred & Ginger to Mickey & Minnie; an operettaesque sendup spoofing Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, and a hilarious lampoon of Hollywood's infamous Production Code, musically itemizing what could and couldn't be seen in that heavily censored movie era.
Following the intermission, Hunt's cast will regroup for "A Night in the Ukraine," which is fast-and-loosely based on Chekhov's "The Bear" - as if it starred the Marx Brothers, Allan Jones and Kitty Carlisle.
When the London import first opened on Broadway in the spring of 1980 (directed and choreographed by Tommy Tune), the New York critics made these observations:
- "You leave the theater with the dizzy feeling of having witnessed a super, impossibly professional senior-class spring show. Not a bad feeling at all." (New York Daily News)
- "It is crazy, zany magic . . . a smashing show, classy, sassy nostalgia." (New York Post)
- "Act One is a splendidly funny and remarkably clever entertainment. Act Two has inspired lunacy, impeccable foolishness and perfectly hilarious nonsense." (WCBS, Ch. 2)
- "A real winner . . . consists of two extended sketches, both gems." (Wall Street Journal)
Sounds like the only thing missing at PTC will be hot buttered popcorn at the concession stands.
And Dish Night.
- PERFORMANCES will be on the Lees Main Stage of Pioneer Memorial Theatre, located on the University of Utah campus, 300 S. and University Street.
Following the opening on Wednesday, Sept. 16, the show will continue Mondays through Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. (note the earlier weekday curtain time this season); Fridays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m.
For reservations, contact the Pioneer Theatre Company box office at 581-6961.