On Whirling Stages

It's impossible to exaggerate the scale of Busby Berkeley's work: This is the man who gave us hundreds and hundreds of “girls,” arranged kaleidoscopically, simpering in unison. No one and nothing has approached the choreographer's successes of the 1930s Warner Brothers studio musicals since; why try? Numbers such as “The Tapestry of Girls,” “The Fountain of Beauty,” and “The Human Waterfall” have many, many slobbering admirers including, in recent memory, the dream sequence in The Big Lebowski and the Magnetic Fields' song “Busby Berkeley Dreams.” On Thursday, the Busby Berkeley Bonanza offers a double feature to beat all double features: 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933, two of those huge, sparkling, opulent, wisecracking features in their intended habitat: the big screen. Before the show, all tap dancers are invited to show off out front of the theater; prizes are in the offing and we pray everyone wears gold-colored shorts and marcelled blonde wigs. Today's double feature is Footlight Parade and Dames, a pair of the more rarely screened Berkeley treats. Author Jeffrey Spivak introduces both shows; his recent biography Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley is the first of its kind.
Feb. 10-11, 2011

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