Folies d’Amour

The 4th production at the French Casino, New York was Folies d’Amour launched in late August 1936 and transferred to the London Casino in January 1937. Once again Clifford Fischer presented an excess of scenic artifice, flamboyant costumes and feminine pulchritude to such an extent that the New York Times said he was following in Ziegfeld’s footsteps with such tableaux as the Flowers of Paris, the old Jewel Box, the Metal Age and naughtiness of Goodnight.

The scene The Flowers of Paris in the cabaret show Folies D'Amour, New York (1936) and London (1937)
The scene The Flowers of Paris in the cabaret show Folies D’Amour, New York (1936) and London (1937)

In this revue, Fischer dispensed with the usual conferencier or MOC who usually had a speciality act as well and focused more on a star of the show. In this instance this was Cinda Glenn, an expatriate American, a brilliant singer, gifted dancer, fantastic comedienne and remarkable personality. She dominated the show with her highly individual humour and charm. The New York Times thought that perhaps the only criticism of the show itself was that there was a lack of humour, except for the efforts of Cinda Glenn, who they regarded as superb and the knock about clowning of the Bryants, there was scarcely a frivolous moment.

Like previous shows it was presented in two parts and with sixteen scenes, slightly less than in previous editions. It was staged once again by Jean Le Seyeux, choreography was by Natalie Komarova, music was by George Komaroff, scenery by Raymond Deshayes and Lavignac and Pellegry (except the Machine, Gold and Dancing scene by Le Seyeux) and costumes were by Max Weldy from designs by Erte and Freddy Wittop.

Cindi Glenn, the star in the cabaret show Folies D'Amour, New York (1936) and London (1937)
Cindi Glenn, the star in the cabaret show Folies D’Amour, New York (1936) and London (1937)

Part one began with the Flowers of Paris (no.1) with the Parisian, the fern, the lady with the camellias and orange blossoms, followed by a basket of hydrangeas, cyclamens, poppies, lilacs, mimosa and sweet peas, then a wedding basket, basket of roses and basket of violettes and then a display of showgirls in gorgeous creations representing exotic flowers like the lily, the orchid, the tulip, the fuchsia, the carnation and the anthurium

The Flowers of France (no.2) followed featuring the ballet Bodenwieser from Vienna who have been described as a modern expressive company in the vanguard of the European ‘New Wave’ of dance. In the flower theme a curtain of flowers (no.3) followed with showgirls dressed as massed array of flowers and leaves.

An amusing feature number was Parisian Couples (no.4) where each dancing couple constituted a clever turn in itself with the Romantic couple (Tamara and Leonard), the Extravagant couple (Tonie Clare and Leopold), the Eccentric couple (Barry and Beatrice), the Acrobatic couple (Rona Riccardo and Ben Tyber) and the Impossible couple (Taniel and Flaccombo) plus the antics of the fantastic comedienne Cinda Glenn.

The dancers Barry and Beatrice in the cabaret show Folies D'Amour, New York (1936) and London (1937)
The dancers Barry and Beatrice in the cabaret show Folies D’Amour, New York (1936) and London (1937)

Pyramids (no.5) followed with athletic and acrobatic antics of the seven Menorcas, which led into the big spectacular scene of the Old Jewel box (no.6) featuring a singer, maids. pearls and the pearl necklace. It was a novel number in which a huge casket filled the stage, its gigantic mirror lid reflecting the girls within representing the jewels and who were only seen indirectly.

Cinda Glen was the lead as the Elegant Lady in Ladies and their seals (no.7) with a retinue of assistants and helpers that was followed by a the trapeze speciality act of Elly Ardelty in Audacity (no.8)

Ballet Bodenwieser in the cabaret show Folies D'Amour, New York (1936) and London (1937)
Ballet Bodenwieser in the cabaret show Folies D’Amour, New York (1936) and London (1937)

The Metal Age (no.9) was a striking series of scenes introducing a symphony of Steel and a ballet illustrating a machinery mad era. Starting with the seven Menorcas as the guardians of the bronze door, the smithy (Drena) appeared with his assistants wand showgirls dressed as copper, iron, brass and nickel. This moved into Love in 1990 (with the Man and Girls of tomorrow), the Machine Age featuring the Ballet Bodenweiser, Precious metals (silver and platinum). The sequence culminated in the brilliant spectacle of Gold of the world and the Rush for Gold with all the participants dressed as gold pieces, gold diggers, ingots, women in gold, the salves, the gold, the fortune and the beggar.

The scene 'Good Night' in the cabaret show Folies D'Amour, New York (1936) and London (1937)
The scene ‘Good Night’ in the cabaret show Folies D’Amour, New York (1936) and London (1937)

Part two commenced with Olympic games (no.11) featuring the the seven Menorcas as the athletes, Zdenek Koubek as the runner and then a series of showgirls which led into the specality act of Gibson an co (no.12), the Jazz Age (no.13) with the Ballet Bodenweiser and then another big scene called La Coupole Café de Montparnasse (no.14). Here Drena acted as MOC with a display including head waiters (Menorcas), singers, dancers and guests, including Cinda Glen as the rich foreigner.

The laughing man (no.15) featured the Bryants, an outstanding pantomime act before the rather salacious scene Good night (no.16) illustrating the maids, negligee, night cap, kimono, deshabille, tea gown, bed jacket, panama and night dresses and then the Finale (no.17) led by Cinda Glenn and the entire company.

For the London show there were a few alterations and addition of the comedy act of Herman Hyde, Sally Hyde and George Keplinger, the singer Esther Gertrude Keplinger and another young American singer called Malcolm Hulbert.

All images and text © copyright Gary Chapman / Jazz Age Club and must not be re-used without prior consent

Sources:

New York Times, Dancing Times and Theatre World

Programmes

For information on the Bodenwiser Ballet

 

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