"You have to see it to believe it, Agnes. The girls are practically naked! They parade around in feathers and plumes and tassels and, so help me I thought Henry's eyes would fall out.
"and the tiger was as big as a house, and it disappeared and turned into one of those showgirls, and white doves flew to the stage from all over the room, and these dancers did flips you wouldn't believe.
"And the singers came right down into the audience and one of them kissed Margaret, and we laughed so hard we almost died."
That's one reaction to the big glossy stage shows performed daily at the new hotel-casinos in Atlantic City. Good old music-hall vaudeville is back, and Agnes and Margaret and friends can experience it for practically nothing.
All four big hotel-casinos have these big shows, which have been described as Las Vegas-type or French-type revuew (though not quite as baree9 They are seen by thousands of people every day and, by all apperances the audiences love them.
The shows are all flashy, naughty, giddy and occasionally silly. There are lots of top hats and canes, tap-dancing and buck-and-winging. The costumes worn by the showgirls -- what there is of them -- are extravagant. The magicians lean toward spectacular tricks, and the comedians are resolutely risque and slapstick. There hasn't been anything like it in these parts for generations.
Each of the four places puts on its show two or three times a day, and most shows are sold out. The reason is that many packages that include the show, roundtrip fare and often lunch. The price of each package is general around $20.
The bus trips are underwritten by the hotels as a device to keep their casinos busy. One of the four, Resorts International, has 4,000 to 5,000 people arriving by bus every day. The other three have fewer, but, in any case, the total number of "bus people" seeing the shows daily is enormous. And many of them have never seen anything quite like it in a live performance.
The flashiest and giddiest of the shows is probably the one in Resorts International's Superstar Theater. "Boardwalk Magic" is performed 14 times a week and rarely plays to less than a full house.
The stars of the show are comedian Jimmy Wallis, magician Tod Buchanan, dancer Beckey Mills, two tigers, a lion and a black panther. On stage most of the time , however, are 20 or so showgirls who often stride around wearing net stockings, plumes and bikinis. Some of them are "acro-dancers" and perform various gymnastic feats to the music of a 15-piece orchestra.
The climax of the show is a little play in which a fisherman falls in love with a beautiful maiden and they dance around for a while. Then Count Dracula comes along and tries to steal the girl. There is more dancing around, and then Count Draculamakes the girl disappear and turns the fisherman into a lion.
There are also a Swedish acrobatic team, a Hungarian juggling team, six acrobatic dancers and the Black Theater of Prague, which causes objects to move, seemingly without support, around a darkened stage.
Wallis is a stand-up comic, singer, impressionist and ventriloquist and, except for the animals, the most popular element in the show. For those not arriving with bus groups, tickets to the show are$12.50.
If any of the shows can be said to rival that at Resorts, it is the Brighton's "Hello broadway," which is described as a variety show designed to "show what Broadway used to be, what it should be now and what it can be in the future."
There are 30 dancers, all women, and you probably will lose count of the number of costume changes. The dancers are supported by a 17-piece orchestra.
There are four lavish production numbers during the 88-minute show and three variety acts. One act features performing chimpanzees. Another stars Patrik Querrot, who picks people's pockets, removes their watches, shirts, etc., on stage. A third act involves dancing, magic, a Siberian tiger, a Brazilian jaguar and an Indian leopard.
The show is performed twice daily and tickets are $12.50.
One show that does not rely on buses for its customers is "Outrageous," the cabaret show at Bally's Park Place. The show, while less spectacular than those at Resorts or the Brighton, still has near-capacity audiences for most of its twice-daily performances.
Tickets are $7.50, and there is a one-drink minimum at the afternoon shows (3:30), a two-drink minimum at the evening shows (7:30 and on weekends, 11).
"Outrageous" opens with a production number that involves three costume changes, all relying heavily on feathers and rhinestones. Then a puppet goes through some gymnastics with no visible aid. The second production number has a Latin flavor and is highlighted by an adagio performance.
There is a comic vantriloquist act, and the Los Argentines Gauchos snap whips and dance. Then the women dancers demonstrate that they can wear cowboy outfits and still appear to be virtually nude. It all ends up with a big production number and more costume changes.
The least pretentious of the shows has been "Music, Music, Music" at Caesars Boardwalk Regency. Three men and five women raced through parts of 79 songs in just over an hour. Much of the singing was prerecorded, and the performers merely mouthed the words. The show was performed three times a day, and tickets were $7.50 and $5.
However, on Nov. 9, the hotel began a new policy of staging Off-Broadway shows direct from New York instead of one "prepackaged" Las Vegas sort of production. The first show in the planned series is "Pizzazz," a musical revue featuring six performers singing the songs of Harry Warren. Admission is $6.
But the three other hotels will continue to stage their extravagent costume parties, parading their magicians and ventriloquists and dancers and Siberian tigers before the dazzled eyes of thousands of people two or three times a day -- every day of the week.
And more hotels and more shows are coming.