Wednesday, March 3, 2021

487. SMILE, SMILE, SMILE. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

Diane J. Findlay, Casey Craig, Chip Zien, William Pierson.
SMILE, SMILE, SMILE [Musical/Fantasy/Politics] B/M/LY: Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore, George David Weiss; D: Robert Simpson; S: Philip Gilliam; C: Patricia McGourty; L: Barry Arnold; P: Stuart Duncan; T: Eastside Playhouse (OB); 4/4/73-4/8/73 (7)

Smile, Smile, Smile, which Douglas Watt called an “extraordinarily silly” musical, with a smidgen of a cue from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, sets its story on Paradise Island, ruled by the evil Cockalorum (Rudy Tronto). He is aided and abetted by an island spirit named Arlie (Bobby Lee), who also acts as narrator. Cockalorum has lured people of various historical periods and locales to the island, setting them to slave labor digging guano while he plies them with a will-destroying drink. A revolutionary maiden named Franny (Diane J. Findlay) ferments a rebellion and overthrows the dictator.

The production suffered from an inorganic development of character and plot, shallow characters, and borrowed ideas. Watt said it had “Insipid songs that are either desperately energetic or cravenly melodic.” But there were some decent performance, lively staging, and snappy designs, he concluded. Richard Watts disagreed about the score, dubbing it “agreeable and tuneful,” and the overall show reminiscent of Gilbert and Sullivan. Clive Barnes ended his 41-word review by noting: “It was called Smile, Smile, Smile. I didn’t, I didn’t, I didn’t.”

Song titles included "Haven't I Seen You Somewhere Before?," "Paradise," "I'm the Cockalorum," "God Bless the Fig Tree," "Love Is a Fragile Thing," "Love Is a Pain," and so forth.

Cast members who would later make a name for themselves included Chip Zien and Gary Beach.