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A Sprightly Operetta
By JAMES DAVIS
An ingratiating little operetta of romance, "The Man With a Load of Mischief , " based on a 1924 play by Ashley Dukes, opened last night at the Jan Hus House. Off-Broadway hasn't had an operetta in some time and this one should fill the bill handsomely until one comes along with a Walter Wolfe King and the Shubert chandelier of fond memory.
Days of Romance
'Mischief'' is set in merry olde England of the early 19th Century, when actresses led wicked, adventurous lives and gentlemen's gentlemen had great potential as lovers.
Virginia Vestoff was an attractive and spirited stage star, mistress of a nobleman and anxious to become his ex-mistress. In a wayside inn she meets a man servant who has more charm and grace in his little finger than all the nobles the actress ever dallied with had in their entire bodies.
The man servant is Reid Shelton and he and Miss Vestoff do most of the singing. We liked the way he did a number called "Hulla Baloo Balay" and "Make Way for My Lady." Miss Vestoff breezed through a half-dozen songs. We liked her best in one called "A Wonder."
Raymond Thorne was a capable lover-boy and kind of fixer for the noble from whom the actress when AWOL, and Alice Cannon was a personable and frisky maid. Tom Noel and Lesslie Nicol were a good pair as innkeeper and wife.
The book was the work of Ben Tarver. He also collaborated on the lyrics with John Clifton, the composer, Tom Gruenewald was, the director.
Sande Campbell was the musical director (at the piano, we think). Also behind curtains playing the score, were Larry Abel, clarinet and flute, and David Levine at the cello.
All these people apparently worked well together, for "Man With a Load of Mischief" overcame a lot of difficulties that come with trying to put on such a show in the obstacle-Iaden Jan Hus.