Mitzi Gaynor: Razzle Dazzle! My Life Behind the Sequins
The legendary star's club act at the Loews Regency will satisfy those audience members who simply want to be in the presence of the engaging and gregarious entertainer.
For one thing, Gaynor goes through six complete costume changes -- starting with a sailor suit similar to the one she wore for the "Honey Bun" sequence in the film version of South Pacific, and moving on to a variety of soigne and glamorous ensembles that show off her still-fabulous figure.
The costume changes also allow the energetic Gaynor some brief offstage time, while allowing audiences to be treated to clips from her films and television specials -- projected onto a large screen on the stage -- that serve as a potent reminder of her gifts as an entertainer. (It's a similar strategy to the one used by Cher in her Las Vegas act.)
Those gifts, alas, are not as evident on the Regency stage as one might hope. While she still possesses the ability for some lovely vocalizing, her arrangements are way too rangy and her song choices seem oddly random. Her strongest moment is a wistful then forceful take on Irving Berlin's "There's No Business Like Show Business," and there's a certain pleasing nostalgia in a medley of song snippets from South Pacific. And though it appears Gaynor can still shake her remarkably well-toned legs, the stage is far too small to allow her to do much movement.
Still, Gaynor proves to be a delightful (if sometimes rambling) storyteller. Her recollections of her first date with husband-to-be Jack Bean, getting dressed to meet the Duke and Duchess of Windsor at El Morocco, and what happened after she convinced good pal Ethel Merman to come to New Jersey to watch her new club act all generate genuine laughs. Gaynor is clearly not the kiss-and-tell type, nor does she engage in much negativity. (She does call fellow starlet, Vera-Ellen, "that bitch," but I think it was meant in jest.) And her rapport with the audience seems truly genuine.