Brazilians bring Las Vegas-type show to Broadway
Oba Oba Brazilian musical extravaganza. ``Oba Oba,'' at the Ambassador Theatre, is glitzy, lively, and very loud - a tinseled compilation of Brazilian folkloric pop more suited perhaps to Las Vegas than to Broadway.
Originated as a 1970s tourist attraction, the extravaganza (translatable into English as ``Oh Boy Oh Boy'') enables New Yorkers to experience the tourist treatment without leaving home. The smiling Brazilians are as prodigal with their goodwill as with their performing gifts.
Instrumental virtuosity and astonishing acrobatics highlight the commercial-exotic gallimaufry.
Besides featured accordionist Jaime Santos, ``Oba Oba'' offers a short course in such unfamiliar instruments as the bandolim and cavaquinho (two small guitars), musical crossbows, and a dazzling range of percussion instruments.
The ``Rhythm Beaters'' and a sequence called ``Acrobatic Oapoeira,'' in which seven agile males hurl themselves about the Ambassador stage, are the principal pleasures of the second act.
In many respects, ``Oba Oba'' resembles an old-fashioned vaudeville, with choreography to match. This is particularly true of the medleys and set pieces, some of which encapsulate Brazilian memories of slavery and one of which pays tribute to Carmen Miranda. As principal performer, Eliana Estevao proves a full-throated vocalist and congenial mistress of ceremonies.
The settings are a riot of jungle colors and gaudy curtains. The female dancers' costumes alternate between the briefest of bikinis (sometimes topless) and yards of swirling chiffon.
With Wilson Mauro as musical director, the overamplified onstage performance receives solid support from a band that occupies the two upper boxes flanking the proscenium.
``Oba Oba'' ends with the cast and venturesome spectators coursing the aisles in a climactic samba.
The Brazilian visitors are scheduled to continue energizing Broadway indefinitely.