Cynthia von Buhler’s theater extravaganza The Speakeasy Dollhouse Ziegfield’s Midnight Frolic is darkly entertaining. With a floorshow, cirque de solieil moments, immersive interactive theater based on a real New York story helps to make this a night to remember. You can even opt for an additional cost ($65) for the whole dinner theatre experience complete with a complimentary absinthe to tempt the senses. Drinks abound so if you are thirsty libations are plentiful at $15 a piece. Ziegfield’s Midnight Frolic brings back to life the lives of the infamous roaring 20s, where you are asked to abandon your true persona and creates one that you choose. From beginning to end the production contains fascinating historical elements, glamor, mystery, murder and the crude realities of show biz. The productions sets and costumes by Carmela Lane are detailed, glittering bordering on a era that is soon to sweep you away.
Your experience starts at the entrance where you whisper the code and enter the inner sanctum. The Liberty Theater stage and dining hall have a silent movie on the screen as the lovely and scantily clad Ziegfeld girls, as well as Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr., and the stars of the Follies wander about.
Eddie Cantor (the talented Chris Fink), hosts the Midnight Frolic, with the Ziegfeld Girls in attendance. My only complaint here is heavy set dancers would have never been cast in a real Ziegfeld show. These women were the echelon of beauty. Ziegfeld Follies star 21 year-old Olive Thomas (Syrie Moskowitz), is the lover of Flo Zeigfeld and soon to be wife of Jack Pickford (Joey Calveri). Josephine Baker (Delysia La Chatte), Will Rogers (Bobby Underwood), Marilyn Miller (Ellie Frances), Fanny Brice (Erica Vlahinos), acrobats, aerialist (Anya Sapozhnikova) and more mesmerize.
During intermission you use your passport to head to Paris and the macabre Montmartre’s Cabaret du Néant. Thirsty? A bar awaits with tasty creations. At the Ritz Hotel up flights of stairs, the real drama unfolds, the tragic story of Olive Thomas and Jack Pickford. See what transpired during the last moments of Olive Thomas’s life as Jack Pickford frantically attempts to save her. There are three versions to attempt to solve the riddle of her death.
The original music by Billy Butler is fabulous as is the musical direction by Alphonso Horne the terrific trumpeter from For The Last Time.
Though there were rumors of murder, considering Jack married Marilyn Miller, another Follies star. Miller loudly championed her husband’s innocence in the press. This is the original new York cold case.
Ziegfeld’s Midnight Frolic, by Cynthia von Buhler at the Liberty Theater, 234 West 42nd St. Friday and Saturdays at 7:45