‘The 1940s Radio Hour’ rounds out Lake Dillon Theatre Company season
If you go
What: “The 1940s Radio Hour,” the final theater production of the Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s 20th anniversary season
When: Opening night is 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14; the show continues on select Tuesdays through Sundays through Sunday, Dec. 14
Where: Lake Dillon Theatre, 176 Lake Dillon Drive, Dillon
Cost: Tickets start at $30 for adults and $22 for students
More information: Visit www.lakedillontheatre.org, or call (970) 513-1151
“It’s a fun, easy night of classic entertainment,” said cast member William Lucas, who plays radio producer Clifton Feddington, when asked to sum up the latest musical comedy offering from the Lake Dillon Theatre Company. “Clifton runs the radio show, or at least tries his best. For anyone who grew up listening to the radio, (‘The 1940s Radio Hour’) will be a trip down memory lane.”
Conceived and originally directed on Broadway by Colorado’s Walton Jones, “The 1940s Radio Hour” is the newest production at the Lake Dillon Theatre Company and features the music and memories from the decade surrounding World War II. Full of music, dancing and old-fashioned sound effects, “The 1940s Radio Hour” portrays the final holiday broadcast of the Mutual Manhattan Variety Cavalcade on the New York radio station WOV on a December night in 1942.
“For the last show of our 20th anniversary season, we invited back some of our community’s favorite actors, who are also incredibly talented and perfectly cast,” said Joshua Blanchard, LDTC executive director. “It’s a dream production.”
Producing artistic director Christopher Alleman (“Orphans,” “Xanadu”) and Lake Dillon Theatre Company member Bob Moore (“Grace,” “The Sunshine Boys”) lead the cast of returning Lake Dillon Theatre Company performers, including Diane Huber (“Sweet Charity,” “Pinocchio”), Brittany Jeffery (“The World Goes Round,” “My Way”), Cameron Kinnear (“Big River,” “Ring of Fire”), William Lucas (“Cabaret,” “Into the Woods”), Frank Sansone (“Kiss of the Spider Woman,” “Scapin”), Andew Tebo (“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown”) and Nina Waters (“Big River,” “Sweet Charity”). Lake Dillon Theatre Company newcomer Grant Haralson rounds out the cast.
RELEVANCE STILL RESONATES
While “The 1940s Radio Hour” takes place during December 1942, its themes and ideas resonate with today’s contemporary audiences.
“Relevance comes from universality,” said director and Lake Dillon Theatre Company member Wendy Moore, who returns to Summit County after directing last summer’s hit comedy “Scapin,” garnering her a 2014 Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Award nomination for Best Director. “We still have the need to connect, to be remembered and to care about others. We still think about the fighting men and women far from home. We all work toward our dreams and pick ourselves up after disappointments.”
As America continues to confront international conflict, “The 1940s Radio Hour” highlights the struggles of sending troops off to battle and how communities rally and remember.
“The play explores the idea of camaraderie in times of war,” said Moore, who plays radio station custodian and caretaker Pops Bailey. “The need for entertainment and humor to counteract individual and societal hardships is at its heart.”
“Patriotism is probably the core theme of the play,” said Huber, who plays fictional pop favorite Ann Collier. “Most Americans had someone close to them fighting for freedom during this time. It takes you on an emotional journey as you meet and grow to love all the characters that have come together to make this radio show so special.”
Radio as a medium for both entertainment and information for the masses remains a central concept throughout the production.
“In an age of Twitter and Facebook, audiences today still connect with the idea of radio as a channel of communication,” Blanchard said. “It’s a flashback, but it’s not that far from where we are today. Many people in Summit County listen to local or satellite radio or both.
“The idea of preserving an age-old tradition like radio is so strongly a part of the show,” Lucas said. “Radio entertainment might seem archaic today, but there’s still so much fun and comedy in the style.”
SHOW WITHIN A SHOW
The plot of “The 1940 Radio Hour” centers on the live broadcast of the Mutual Manhattan Variety Cavalcade. Lake Dillon Theatre Company audiences, in turn, become the live studio audience of the radio broadcast in the show.
“It’s December 1942,” Moore said. “A live radio show showcases live sound effects, the music and fashion of the time. That wonderful set of circumstances blends with a delightful array of memorable characters.”
“The idea of a play within a play is always interesting to the audience,” Moore said. “In this case, the audience gets to pretend that they are actually a part of the production by becoming the studio audience at a live radio broadcast. It involves them in the show in a different way.”
Audiences are not expected to do anything but sit back and enjoy the production. But the audiences’ presence in the Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s intimate venue will influence the actors’ overall performances, creating a shared experience for the performers and the audiences each night. “It’s a fun throw back to the days of radio entertainment with a different perspective for the audience,” Lucas said.
MUSIC FOR ALL
The musical features a wide variety of popular hits from the 1940s era. While the cast highlights one or two holiday standards, they mostly sing a variety of popular songs including “Blues in the Night,” “Chiquita Banana” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”
The actors portray archetypal characters that remind us of Bing Crosby, Glen Miller, Billie Holiday and the Andrews Sisters. The well-known songs shape an American soundscape to which audiences can relate and embrace.
“I get to sing ‘Have Yourself a Merry Christmas,’” Huber said. “And I am by far most excited to sing this tune every night. This is such a breathtaking, nostalgic song, and it has a lot of special meaning to both my character (Ann Collier) and to me.”
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