The Life of Jesse James
By Jack Kroll
Diamond Studs is a "saloon musical" for which the Chelsea Theater Center of Brooklyn has turned its new Manhattan venue into a woodsy beer-wine-and-peanut cabaret with the most delicious waitresses in town. They become a delightful part of a delightful show, which tells the story of Jesse James in a fresh and funny fusillade of tomfoolery, with a country score of splendid classics and just as good originals by Bland Simpson and Jim Wann. The latter are part of a bright young country commando force comprising groups called the Red Clay Ramblers and the Southern States Fidelity Choir.
Under director John L. Haber, these kids raise merry Ned with their singing, stomping and playing of every non-urban music maker from the autoharp to the twelve-string guitar. The tireless Wann plays Jesse James, while bearded, jelly-bellied Tommy Thompson becomes Jesse's mother and his sidekick Cole Younger. There isn't a flat moment in this show, which has its own sneaky sophistication, epitomized by Patricia Birch's sunny choreography--enough to make a New York mugger cakewalk to his next dark alley.
"Wann, Thompson: Tomfoolery"