On stage: `Legs Diamond' makes it to Broadway. Raffish musical inspired by Hollywood gangster film

Legs Diamond Musical comedy by Peter Allen (music and lyrics) and Harvey Fierstein and Charles Suppon (book). Based on the Warner Bros. film ``The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond.'' Directed by Robert Allan Ackerman. Choreographed by Alan Johnson. Starring Mr. Allen. Peter Allen has come to Broadway in a raucous mock tribute to one of the more notorious casualties of the gangster era. After a couple of delays, ``Legs Diamond'' lights up the Mark Hellinger Theatre with a fictitious cartoon by Harvey Fierstein and Charles Suppon, starring Mr. Allen as Legs.

The raffish $5.2 million extravaganza was inspired by an old Warner Bros. movie, ``The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond.''

When first encountered, ``Legs'' is being released after completing a five-year term in the Pennsylvania State Prison. Never a man to look back, he is already dreaming ``When I Get My Name in Lights.'' Here as elsewhere throughout the proceedings, Mr. Allen cuts a tirelessly nimble figure in the role of gangster as song-and-dance man.

Rebuffed by Arnold Rothstein (Joe Silver), the night-club and gang boss for whom ``Legs'' served the prison rap, the dauntless Diamond begins his climb to criminal and night-club heights. With inside information from Kiki Roberts (Randall Edwards), Rothstein's girlfriend and Tropicabana star, ``Legs'' starts sabotaging Rothstein's liquor shipments. The resultant wrecks and sinkings have inspired set designer David Mitchell and black art effects consultant Ted Shapiro to some quite spectacular silhouettes.

Meanwhile, the insouciant ``Legs'' is dividing his attention between Kiki and songstress Flo (Julie Wilson), the older woman in his life. How ``Legs'' foils Rothstein and his mobsters in their attempts to rub him out brings ``Legs Diamond'' to a flashy first-act climax and a surprise second-act opening. Thereafter, librettists Fierstein and Suppon dramatize their conniving hero's rise to entertainment stardom and criminal czardom, as he eludes Rothstein's gunmen. A pas de trois with the FBI, amusingly choreographed by Alan Johnson, puts an end to the rise but doesn't necessarily mean curtains for Jack ``Legs'' Diamond.

Mr. Allen's jazzy score serves the purposes for which it was composed. At first hearing, it sounds more utilitarian than liltingly winning. The engaging star takes off in such numbers as ``Sure Thing Baby,'' ``Only an Older Woman'' (with Miss Wilson), the tricky ``Now You See Me, Now You Don't'' (with Miss Edwards and the ensemble), and the second-act finale. Miss Edwards and the Tropicabana dancers make the most of ``I Was Made for Champagne.'' Miss Wilson brings her rich and husky vocalism to the melancholy ``The Music Went Out of My Life.'' Elsewhere, Mr. Allen has provided something in the way of song and dance for everyone in a responsive company. The energetic musical performance, under Eric Stern's direction, never wants for amplification. Mr. Johnson's choreography abounds in Charlestons, rhumbas, tangos, and the like. Jules Fisher has showered the jazzy spectacular with more than a thousand points of incandescent light and Willa Kim has dressed the cast in glitzy '20s costumes.

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