Forty years on the aisle

Baltimore Glimpses

January 28, 1992|By GILBERT SANDLER

LOU CEDRONE, who was drama critic of this newspaper for 40 years, has retired. And if you are of "retirement age," the shows -- theater productions and movies -- he has attended and reviewed span your lifetime in Baltimore. His memories remind you of where you were and what was happening in your life when . . .

* The Mechanic opened in 1967 with Betty Grable starring in "Hello Dolly." "I loved Betty Grable," says Mr. Cedrone. "She was my World War II pin-up -- beautiful legs. But her voice was not really good enough for the part. She did the whole part hoarse. She was out of her depth that night, but I loved her."

* The curtain fell on Ford's Theater Feb. 2, 1964: "The show was 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.' It was a sad night. I thought Ford's was a beautiful theater and never should have been torn down. Jerry Lester had the lead and did a pretty good job. I remember there was a formal farewell reception after the show. The invitation said 'formal,' but I wore a dark suit and kept my coat on."

* "110 in the Shade" played the Stanton. "I loved '110 in the Shade,' which was the musical version of 'The Rainmaker.' It was at the old Stanley, at Howard and Centre, in 1965. Leslie Ann Warren was the star."

* "Chorus Line" played Baltimore five or six times -- and Mr. Cedrone would have welcomed it back five or six more times. "The show opened here at the Mechanic and it was one of the best shows I've ever seen. I'm waiting for it to come back to Baltimore!"

* "I have a soft spot in my heart for Katharine Hepburn. She played in 'Coco' at the Mechanic in 1972. It was not a great musical, but Hepburn made it an event."

* "Painters Mill brought the best to Baltimore. I saw them all -- Liberace, Bobby Vinton, Cyd Charisse, Robert Goulet, Mitzi Gaynor, Glenn Campbell, Ethel Merman. One of the standouts was 'Mame' with Angela Lansbury, but I saw and did not like 'The King and I' with Yul Brenner. I was never crazy about that show."

* "One of the most memorable shows I've ever seen in Baltimore was 'Oklahoma.' Ford's, 1953.

* And Baltimore dinner theaters? "I remember I saw and liked 'Chicago' at the Limestone, 'My Fair Lady' at White Marsh and 'Phantom of the Opera' at Oregon Ridge."

But what over the years of reviewing theater in Baltimore didn't he like?

"I positively didn't like 'Park Your Car in Harvard Yard,' which played the Mechanic. I think they took my advice and refashioned the show. I hated all the horror films I ever saw -- except 'Rosemary's Baby.' I hate them intellectually; I find them insulting, degrading, despicable. They say very little for our society."

Of his 40 years as a critic in Baltimore: "I was lucky. As a boy I was inspired by former Sun critic Gilbert Kanour. I wanted to become a critic just like him, here in Baltimore. And I did."

Mr. Cedrone has rated numerous productions over those four decades. Now Glimpses gets a chance to rate him:

"* * * *"

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