"Tintypes," once subtitled "A Ragtime Revue," might be more aptly called a "review," as it consists almost solely of songs from the late 1800s and early 1900s, rendered in presumably authentic style. Barter Theatre's current production takes this light entertainment for what it is--a scrapbook of pleasant songs from the past.
The show starts with "Yankee Doodle Dandy," sung in a heavy, caricatured Yiddish accent, and carries on with familiar ditties like "A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight," and rarely heard ones like "I'm Goin' to Live Anyhow, 'Til I Die." Some songs are sung by characters like Teddy Roosevelt or Anna Held, others by more general types such as factory workers and vaudeville performers.
The songs are loosely stitched together with pantomimes, and it is here that the production is weakest. The pantomimes are long and too often vague--in one, in which a factory worker learns the rudiments of his assembly line job, it was so unclear what he was doing that audience members were turning to each other in confusion.
But the five-member cast is vocally able and well-versed in broad musical comedy style, and the music, while occasionally saccharine, is generally charming. The show, originally produced at Arena Stage in 1979, veers every now and then toward something serious--the plight of factory workers and minorities or intense speeches from Emma Goldman--but quickly retreats back to the fluff that most suits the structure.
It's an evening of pleasant music nicely done.
"Tintypes," conceived by Mary Kyte with Mel Marvin and Gary Pearle, directed and choreographed by Pamela Hunt, musical director Dan Glosser, setting by Lynn Pecktal, costumes by Georgia Baker, lighting by Al Oster. With Don Bradford, Randy Brenner, Audrey Heffernan, Barbara Niles, and Vanessa Shaw. At the Barter Theatre through March 6.