FABULOUS as the feathers which sway proudly from the heads and derrieres of its gorgeous girls, "Plaisirs de Paris," the new Follies show presented by Val Parnell and Bernard Delfont at the Prince of Wales, is London's most dazzling entertainment It is a personal triumph for producer Robert Nesbitt, whose bright ideas, sparkling with originality, have built up into a model for years to come. It is a triumph, too, for R. St John Roper, whose costume and headdress creations bring forth gasps of admiration time after time.
Lush, brilliantly colourful, and unstinting in its delights on the eye, " Plaisirs de Paris" sets a new standard in this type of light entertainment. From the opening number, when the great purple curtains part slowly and the Girls walk gracefully down two specially built stairways from the boxes on either side of the stage into the full limelight, where their lush canary-coloured creations are brilliantly picked out by the lights, to the last flashing glimpse in the finale, when they wave goodbye in crimson and black, covered by a million silver sequins, this is indeed a show to remember for its visual attractiveness.
Not content with having just one leading lady, "Plaisirs de Paris" has several, who each contributes her own particular charm and talent to the show.
First, there's Sabrina whose talent though not quite as infinitesimal as some would have us believe, is undoubtedly out-shone by her other, more outstanding attributes, not the least of which are excellent deportment and a wholly good-natured acceptance of herself as a buffet for some rather obvious though inoffensive humour.
She looks her best — and her best is spectacular — as Helen in the "Realms of Venus" number early on in the programme.
In complete contrast, as lithesome as Sabrina is statuesque, as mobile as Sabrina is reserved in movement, yet certainly no less glamorous, are Lee Sharon, the platinum blonde dazzler, and Noelle Adam, a gamine-featured lovely, who together provide the principal dancing. Their lively contributions swell an already beauty-and-talent-packed show to bursting point and it is difficult at times to take in all at once so much spectacular attraction.
Then there's Maggy Sarragne, another beauty, this time with a voice and a come-hither lilt to her vocalising that adds considerably to the excitement; there's Vicki Emra, a delightful singer, again very easy on the eye as well as the ear; the Three Zanies in a "shake" number, and there's "Miss Glamor" a coloured artist, whose authentic snake-hipped shimmying puts all other efforts in the pale.
Competing against all this glamour could be very difficult, in fact, it would be very foolish, so the male members of the company wisely wait until the Girls are safely out of eyesight before they display their own charms and talents, all except Dickie Henderson, that is, who boldly storms the stronghold and emerges triumphant in such clashes with beauty as "The French Touch," "Les Nuits de Paris" (in which he dances well) and an insurance sketch, "Are You Fully Covered?"
On his own. he has the audience at his feet with an hilarious skit on a crooner with a travelling mike and a not-too-co-operative man on the other end.
The Three Monarchs delight with their music on the harmonicas, and Cedric, of course, is the main attraction, with a special craziness which never fails to strike a corresponding chord in the audience, and George and Bert Bernard, with their highly developed miming-to-records-technique bring particularly loud laughter with their "Pelvis" routine.
These two acts could do on performing all night if the audience has its way. There is an irresistible appeal about the craziness of the Monarchs, coupled with their outstanding musicianship. and there is a magnetic attraction about the slick, technical brilliance of the Bernard Brothers, which leaves one demanding more of them, however generous they are with their respective time allocations.
A lot of fun is extracted from a tumbling acrobatic routine by Les Mathurins two experts at the art and it is a tonic to any variety-lover to see such a worthwhile speciality receiving the warm appreciation it does at this theatre.
Songster Raymond Girerd, whose sterling work enhances many production numbers, and sketch artists John Palmer and Arthur Solomon complete the principals, while Billy Petch's inspired choreography, and Harold Collin's meticulous musical direction lead the expert team on the other side of the footlights, who deserve a special round of applause of their own. But the hit of the evening are those masses of glamorous gorgeous girls, without whom the show would lose its predominating glitter.