Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The 1940's Radio Hour"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"The 1940'S Radio Hour"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

X The current show at MMAS is "The 1940's Radio Hour", a play by Walton Jones & Carol Lees. The show is full of 1940's music, dancing and old-time sound effects. The play portrays the final holiday broadcast of the Mutual Manhattan Variety Cavalcade on the New York radio station WOV on December 21, 1942 from the Hotel Astor's Algonquin Room. Fabled radio station WOV is a seedy little New York radio station that takes to the air at the start of World War II, this time to record a broadcast for the troops overseas. The spirit of a bygone era, when the world was at war is accurately captured as the harassed producer whose leading singer is often drunk, a delivery boy who wants a chance in front of the mic, the second banana who dreams of singing a ballad. "1940's Radio Hour" is a great stage production about a by-gone era of classic musical radio show. It is full of fabulous music, zany comedy skits and old time radio commercials that will keep you laughing all night long. Director Ken Butler and musical director David Coccia cast the best people for these roles and they capture the essence of the 1940's in this adorable show.

Ken directs the show with a deft hand and infuses it with a lot of humor. Dave not only plays the piano but taught all these nostalgic songs to his wonderful vocalists with astonishing harmonies in them. He also plays Zoots the bandleader in the show. Dave gets to sings "Chattanogga Choo, Choo" and "Ain't She Sweet" with the company. They capture the true essence of the 1940's radio station broadcast. Michael Duarte designed the set to look like an old fashioned radio station with art work by Glenn Fournier and Cindy McCarron. Stage manager John Myers keeps things running smoothly all night long. The topnotch costumes are by Anne Marie Lambert. The show is full of wild and crazy characters. All of them do marvelous work in their roles. Not wanting to give away too many details, I will describe them and some of the songs they sing. Clifton is the announcer and general manager and is wonderfully played by Frank Bartucca. His hysterical antics will leave you in stitches as he gets to do the old-time radio commercials. Coleen Sutcliffe who is a pretty blonde has a gorgeous soprano voice plays Ann and sings That Old Black Magic" in which she oozes sex appeal and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" where she leaves a lump in your throat at her heartfelt rendition. She reminds you of Doris Day, Dinah Shore and Peggy Lee. Ann also dates the heavy drinking Johnny. Mike Duarte plays the featured vocalist Johnny Cantone who thinks he is Frank Sinatra and has an eye for the ladies even though he is supposedly married. He sings "Love Is Here to Stay" and "I'll Never Smile Again" with a quintet.(Reviewed Michael in "The Fantasticks" and "Mousetrap" for MMAS)The bubble headed waitress, Ginger who is well played by Sarah Barlow is a hoot as she gets to sing "Blues in the Night", a jazzy number with the boys and is so in an Eskimo Pie commercial. Celine Daly plays the southern belle of the group, Geneva Lee Browne who gets to sing "I Got it Bad" and "It Don't Mean a Thing". She has a cigarette in her hand throughout the show. Patrick Murphy plays B.J. Gibson who is the youngest Gibson brother and an engineer's apprentice in East Hartford. He sings "You Go to My Head and "How About You" with Connie.( I also reviewed Patrick in "Pal Joey" at Walpole Footlighters and twice in "A Christmas Carol" for MMAS. Cindy McCarron as Connie sings and tap dances to " Hey,Daddy" and sings the duet "How About You " with Patrick. Connie constantly gets free cokes from the authentic looking coca-cola machine built by Mike Duarte.(I've reviewed Cindy who is another pretty blonde in"Stepping Out" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" for MMAS.) Doug McDougal plays Neal who is a delivery boy by day and a singer and dancer at night. He gets to sing a comic version of " Blue Moon"and plays Scrooge in a comic send-up of Christmas Carol. Group numbers include "Strike Up The Band" which is powerful and "I'll Be Seeing You" which leaves the audience in tears at its poignant rendition. There is a funny before the show segment, too. Some other comic roles include Beth Goldman who usually plays dramatic parts(reviewed her last as the Grandmother in "Lost in Yonkers") is Lou, the loudmouth obnoxious stage manager who yells at everyone, tells the audience when to applaud, grapples with Johnny and throws him offstage, Bruce Church as Pops Bailey who is a bookie and reads Show Girl magazine, constantly smokes a cigar, Bill Castro as Stanley who lugs cable around, runs sound effects and constantly eats during the show and Rachel Morandi as Carol, Stanley's sister who does the sound effects and sings in the group numbers. The girls also do a dynamite job on "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy". I don't want say too much about what happens so I won't give away the ending and spoil the show for the audience. So for a nostalgic trip to the past, be sure to catch "The 1940's Radio Hour". The audience loves the show so much, they reward it with a standing ovation.

THE 1940'S RADIO HOUR (March 26 - 11 April)
MMAS
Blackbox Theater, 277 North Main Street, MANSFIELD MA
1(508)339-2822

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