"Flamin' Mamie's," a brash revue of songs plucked from the Roaring Twenties, is housed in a tent on the terrace of the Shoreham Hotel, which the five cast members pretend is a speak-easy. The program is printed to look like a hymnal and there are coffee cups on the table, presumably to throw the cops off the scent, should they raid the joint.
The various subterfuges, however, do not extend to the show itself, which stands, loud and pushy, for all to behold. Conceived and directed by Et Rocklin and starring Ernestine Jackson of "Raisin" fame, "Flamin' Mamie's" doesn't really have an original bone in its body. The 28 songs are pretty much all the old standbys--"Bye Bye, Blackbird," "Hard-Hearted Hannah" "Yes, Sir, That's My Baby" and so on. Between numbers, the performers exchange silly patter, squeal such expressions as "Banana oil" and "You're the bee's knees!" and carry on as if they are having a whale of a time.
Midway through the first act, the audience is coaxed into a sing-along; at the end of the second act, willing spectators are ushered on stage to dance the Charleston with the cast. Visiting conventioneers, who tend to be up for this kind of entertainment, may enjoy the evening.
Jackson delivers solidly professional renditions of "Can't Help Loving That Man of Mine" and "Birth of the Blues." But as Flamin' Mamie, the sizzling proprietress of the joint, the handsome actress is clearly going against her nature. Jackson is very much a lady, and her voice is the sort that soothes and caresses. A red hot mama she's not, yet that's all this show allows her to be.
Vernon Sharpe has a lot of the razzmatazz his name suggests and he's the one true dancer in the company. But the others--Greg Procaccino, Judy Turner and Saundra Dayton, working the Betty Boop bit to exhaustion--are perfunctory performers who, for want of true talent, force themselves on an audience instead of letting an audience come to them.
A six-piece band, headed by pianist Bernie Allen, keeps the tempos and the volume up. Noise, however, is not necessarily exuberance. "You bet your Tin Lizzie we got fun," shrieks one of the flappers in "Flamin' Mamie's." Only if you're prepared to walk, you do.
FLAMIN' MAMIE'S. Conceived and directed by El Rocklin; choreography, Peggy Lynn; musical director Bernie Allen. With Ernestine Jackson, Saundra Dayton, Vernon Sharpe, Greg Procaccino, Judy Turner. At the Shoreham-Terrace Theater for eight weeks.