Song and dance, comedy and heartbreak, a little historical documentary thrown in for good measure… A Day in Hollywood, a Night in the Ukraine was the perfect double feature, encompassing real pathos and perfectly ridiculous entertainment in its wide scope.
In the first act, an intrepid team of ushers and usherettes at the historic Grauman’s Chinese Theatre act as hosts and narrators, leading the audience through origin stories, song history, backstage gossip, and stern warnings set to militant tap-dance. In the second act, the audience enters the Theatre itself, and enjoys a deliciously absurd Marx Brothers comedy, complete with piano solos, screaming blondes, an obligatory love plot, patter songs, and the “gookie” face.
This clever, heart-felt pastiche of 1930s Hollywood glory is a fantastic showcase for a small, triple-threat ensemble. The “Marx Brothers” movie “A Night in the Ukraine” is a clever reworking of Chekhov’s The Bear by Dick Vosburgh, and the score by Frank Lazarus, Dick Vosburgh, and Jerry Herman features Jeanette MacDonald mocking “Nelson,” the terrific Groucho number “Samovar, the Lawyer,” and the tarnished gold of broken Hollywood dreams in “The Best in the World.”