Variety Review: Pepito (and Joanne) at The Palace in Times Square, New York (1930)

Wednesday, July 2, 1930

VARIETY, July 2, 1930, page 54

PALACE (Straight Vaudeville)

A very good vaude bill on paper and on the stage was badly slowed up, if not hurt, twice Saturday by useless and unrequired encores.  The first happened in Pepito’s turn, No. 2, and the next in Gus Edwards’ revised act, opening after intermission.  At least the Pepito encore was probably removed.

Don’t the R-K-O bookers see these acts? Or if they don’t, don’t the office scouts who do make recommendations as to changes for the Palace playing? A blind boy could have told the Pepito encore was misplaced for any house, while Gus Edwards rang in a lousy mouth organ by a hoy made up in the amateur night style. That might be an encore where Gus is giving the entire show or closing a bill.  About three sets of claquers in the rear of the orchestra Saturday afternoon. None was necessary.

The overdone encores hurt two acts. Lou Holtz, next to closing, and Maddox and Clark, two girls, No. 2.  Both overcame their handicaps, the girls very neatly, and Holtz, through sheer work and head work, for that encore mess up just before Holtz, and the way it was done could have made an ordinary performer on with a grouch, if he did not walk out.  Especially a single coming on at 4:45, for the show was prolonged beyond its normal length by the two pushed-in encores.

Another return and another hit of the bill score for Bill Robinson.  He was next to closing the first half.  The super tapper went into the Edwards act later, to help out Ina Ray, whom Gus calls his “latest find,” in her dance imitation of Bill.  The girl does the taps nicely, but is too heavy on her feet, which the 52-year-old Bill showed up when dancing with her.  

Closing the first half is Ruth Etting, a “sweetheart” Chicago lost at $225 a week, for the Palace to take her to its heart this week as the headliner at $3,000. Perhaps as well, displaying the difference between New York and Chicago in other ways.  Miss Etting had two pianists, and did around six songs, with her personality not the least in the solid success this handsome girl always leaves behind at the Palace.

Holtz is doing a dandy turn. It must be the same single he did recently at the Palace, Chicago, when the report from there said it was his best act.  It is.  He tells stories, sings, travesties and kids.  None can tell a Yid story better than he in accent, and Holtz’ hit was heavy in the late spot, despite everything.  A stooge used on the stage for a moment is a big laugh.

Edwards has revamped the turn he had a couple of months ago at the Palace.  He has thrown out the chaff and put in wheat.  It makes all the difference in the world, besides this time the act is wholly played upon the stage where it always belongs.

Alice Weaver, but lately recovered from a spinal injury that held her off the stage for nine months, does prettily with difficult toe work, while Madeleine Northway, now a blonde, and Charles Sabin, ballroom dancers, give much class to the Edwards turn.  Besides Gus, who contributes to any act he’s in more showmanship than he is usually credited with.  Here again he evidences it, not too much, but enough to keep the act lively and make it likeable.  With good people as now, it is all the better, for Armida remains.  (That sprightly little girl is fast developing into a corking performer.  This nearly new Edwards act can hold a spot or a show anywhere, for it’s now all entertainment.  Even the mouth organ boy would be all right in his place, which should be in the body of the act.  Gus is foolish to close with this boy stuff as he did with the dance imitator before.  Let them remember Gus Edwards, not a kid who can wash up any time.  That might be good judgment in a turn not there—this

Edwards turn is there, and 75% better than his former act.

Gus and Will, two boy acrobatic dancers, opened the show in “one,” unusual, with Pepito No. 2 with full stage, his contract reported calling for “a spot.”  Pepito is doing excellent work and is what may be called a newer clown of the old school.  Sure fire for children and enough for the adults. His encore is entirely wrong excepting the crying bit that could go in the act proper as it was before.  Rest of the encore may be thrown away.  It has to do with a player-piano as a gag. and the clown singing in falsetto.

Jean Maddox and Florence Clark pushed themselves over after this.  It was  the comedienne’s hard work, and she never stopped, getting something for all of her low comedy, which is far superior to the crossfire.  Some of the talk holds a little giggle.  Comedy end sets the girls, however.

While Bill Robinson was taking his first bow, ushers carried down a large floral horseshoe.   It was oke because Bill went right to the card.  Later he mentioend that “I must be living right,” looking at the flowers, and again stated the conservatory came from the stage hands’ union of New York.  That bespeaks benefits, but whatever it is, the stage crews never pass tributes that way unless they think an awful lot of a fellow.  And Bill is colored.  It was pretty nice.

Sources:

Photo credit: 

UNL Archive, Photo 292.jpg,   http://unllib.unl.edu/ettingdis/home.html

Newspaper credit:

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