The music on "Fat Tuesday and All That Jazz!" is the kind you wish would never end. It becomes as natural and organic a sound as the surf - like the samba in "Black Orpheus" or the reggae in "The Harder They Come."
Transferred to television, "Fat Tuesday," a dance and music extravaganza staged at Wolf Trap Farm Park last summer, communicates - though perhaps just barely - the earthy impudence and hynotic vivacity of New Orleans jazz and Mardi Gras ritual. The program airs on Channel 26 at 9 o'clock tonight.
It's too bad that it couldn't all have been restaged for TV in a studio, because as usual clunky old Wolf Trap proves an obstacle to camera mobility and placement, and director Clark Santee doesn't exactly bust his buttons when it comes to being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes there is wonderful furious dancing going on while Santee is preoccupied with a stationary vocalist or narrator; at other times he'll cut away from a dancer at the very crest of a grand leap.
For every impediment that comes between us and the material, however, a jubilant and sexy carnival essence survices. Arthur Hall's Afro-American Dance Ensemble is spectacular, the Dejan Olympia Brass Band is sweet and pungent (if poorly miked) and there is an exquisite violin solo by 72-year-old jazz buff William Russell that strikes within millimeters of the heart.
Ninety minutes fly by on the wings of an angel and the desired teleportation occurs, though heaven knows the technology should have made it a lot easier. 'Hollywood Television Theater'
Television is a face medium, not a word medium. Wakako Yamauchi's semi-autobiographical play, "And the Soul Shall Dance," is, as one might surmise from the over-reachingly poetic title, wordheavy. Some of the words are powerful, some actually searing, but none as haunting as the face of Denise Kumagai, who plays the daughter of a poor Japanese-American family living out the Depression in the Imperial Family of California.
The story concerns two families and their hardships in 1935 and it leans toward the melodramatic and overwrought. And yet the relationship between the young girl played by Kumagai and Haunani Minn as the disconsolate wife of a neighbor is deeply affecting.
The playwright uses naturalistic techniques to pave the way for a lyrical, expressionistic final moment like the fantasy that so emmorably concluded "The Shop on Main street," but director Paul Stanley doesn't go nearly far enough with it. Excessive exposition and breast-beating should have been trimmed to expand this eloquent conclusion.
All of the actors are valiant, but John Retsek's art direction deserves special commendation; one rarely sees such keen and consistent color awareness in a TV production, public or otherwise. It enhances the starkness of the play and moves it that much farther toward fully articulating its themes.