The show at Wolf Trap last night was billed as "Sophisticated Ladies" and Cyd Charisse, Anna Maria Alberghetti and Mimi Hines appeared to back up the claim. There were flowing gowns, smooth song and dance numbers aplenty and "Mr. Sophistication," Tony Martin, was the master of ceremonies.
Mimi Hines opened the evening with several songs and an extended monologue in the role of the loveable barfly, "The Faded Lady." Most of the jokes were a trifle hokey but who could quibble with someone whose version of "Alfie" was "What's in your pool, Algae?" Hmmm . . .
Anna Maria Alberghetti followed with a varied selection of songs that ranged from "Love Makes the World Go Round" to "Volare." Recalling her premiere in this country as an opera singer at Carnegie Hall, she sang an aria from "Madame Butterfly." Alberghetti's set was, quite naturally, designed around an Italian motif -- she wore a red dress, there were red back-lights, she told several Italian jokes, and the English lyrics were consistently transformed into their Italian counterparts. A bit heavy-handed, to be sure, yet Alberghetti's voice somehow managed to rise above the setting.
Cyd Charisse and husband Tony Martin capped the show with an act that included snappy patter, the smash hits of Martin and the smashing legs of Charisse. Martin still cuts a fine figure after all these years and his voice has much of its former power, but it was Charisse who stole the show with excerpts from her famous dance sequences in movies such as "The Bandwagon" and "Singing' in the Rain." "Time is nature's way of keeping things from happening at once," Mimi Hines said at one point in the show. Many things have happened since each of these "ladies" (and gentlemen) made their debuts, yet each had retained a dignity and distinctiveness that is truly sophisticated.