Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Busby Berkeley isn't dead. He's just on Ice.
Think of 32 women dressed as playing cards, as dance hall vamps, as daisies, as cowgirls, as butterflies with enormous gossamer wings, as Caribbean maidens with enormous Carman Miranda hats. Thirty-two women moving with the kind of elegant precision that would make the old director of "Golddiggers of 1933" nod his head with hoary approval if he could but see it all. And every one of them on skates.
You've probably guessed by now, the Ice Capades are back. A winterized spectacle, a frozen circus complete with magic tricks, a heroic attempt to bring a little romance into our dreary, humdrum lives, the Capades will be at the Capital Centre through Feb. 13.
The Ice Capades are relentlessly cheeful, loaded down with enough glitter and sequins to dazzle a boat load of British rock groups. Is there no end to the wholesome leaping, to the smiling faces? Apparently not.
Obviously, big city cynicism must be left behind if one is to appreciate the Ice Capades, and such appreciation is possible. Try thinking of them as kind of a people's ballet where just folks can enjoy a kind of grace, delicacy and balance that might be intimidating in the context of classical dance.
And try thinking of Dorothy Hamill, last year's Olympic gold medal winner and, regular as you please, this year's Ice Capades star, introduced under her name spelled out in lights 20 feet high.
Yet with her zest and an obvious desire to please she really seems to be worth all that if anyone can be. She even rated a backstage visit from Jeff and Annette Carter, the President's kin, who told her that little Amy had taken ice skating lessons back in Atlanta and might just turn up to the show herself.
Other folks merit watching besides Hamill, especially Richard Ewell and his athletic leaps. Most pleasing of all are those rare moments when romantic pairs of skaters are allowed to escape the rigid embrace of the night's unceasing show-biz atmosphere and simply glide down the ice, ever so softly, with not even the thought of a nasty East German Olympics judge to mar the purity of their lines.
Of the Ice Capades humor, the less said the better. If your idea of fun is watching someone fall in a tub of water or having a chair taken out from under him before he sits down, this is the show for you.
But really, let us not be too harsh with the Ice Capades, for they know exactly what they do. If as you watch it you have the feeling that you've seen it all before, it's probably because you have. But in these days of bionic change, perhaps that's a virtue after all.