My father asked my mother to marry him during a traffic jam in the Holland Tunnel, and they were married on Easter Morning, 1942. My father was on a Weekend Pass from Fort Indiantown Gap in the Poconos. I grew up hearing stories of NY Radio during the days before television, and as young child learned comedy timing from Fred Allen and Jack Benny phonograph albums. I also grew up with stories about life during wartime.
This all came back to me this holiday season as I enjoyed a delightful and moving theatrical look back at the Christmas of 1942. Marietta’s Theater in the Square continued to celebrate its 30th Season by reviving another one of the plays from the inaugural season of 1981: Walton Jone’s “The 1940s Radio Hour.” This wonderful evening of theater was directed by Susan Reid, with music direction by Michael Monroe.
Set at the independent (and fictional) radio station WOV, based loosely on the independent WOR, the play weaves a number of smaller personal stories through the framework of a variety show radio broadcast before Christmas week. Primarily a musical variety show, “The Mutual Manhattan Variety Cavalcade” is excited to have a representative from one of the national broadcasting networks among the live broadcast and they will have a chance to possibly move their program or their individual careers along. The characters involved with the show inside the show include the production staff, the host Clifton, the singers, and the band. The “Cavalcade” consists of a long string of era songs, and also era commercials recreated with jingles and 1940s appropriate dialogue. The setting is 1942, so the war is not just a consideration, but an offstage character in the play.
The drama in the background includes one young lady with a “going problem” that caused her to leave the stage to use the ladies room frequently, a spat between a young dating couple who were also talented singers, a band members on his way to “The War,” a comedian looking for his big break as a singer, a delivery boy who fills in for a missing cast member, and the sad tale of two older singers struggling to deal with their love despite each being married. The drama is incidental to the period music.
Whenever a musical is staged, the goal is to have great acting and great singing, but occasionally tradeoffs are needed. In this production, the acting is solid and sometimes rises to brilliant, but there is no doubt that the real excellence is the “Cavalcade” of amazing singing voices. Both ensemble pieces and solos songs shine throughout the production. 1940s Radio Hour has a superior musical consistency that is seldom achieved in regional theater. With an adept band and outstanding musical direction, it delivers stellar entertainment value.
The songs will be, for the most, recognizable to a modern audience. The ballads and standards are the songs which have remained in our popular consciousness, such as “That Old Black Magic,” “Blue Moon,” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” One interesting pop culture twist was “My Momma Done Told Me,” which to many is a song sung by a Vulture fighting Bugs Bunny. The original song is used in the play and has less to do with “Bringing home Something for Dinner.”
As part of the consistency, there are no weak performances in the show; however, some of the cast deliver notable and outstanding performances. Drew Archer’s Wally provides comic timing and an authenticity of the age of The Bowery Boys. Jessica Miessel delivers a wonderfully grating NY accent in both her speaking and singing parts that is both flirty and hilarious as Ginger. Maxim Gukhman’ Johnny Cantone pulls the ensemble together around him as the he struggles with his feelings for Ann while preparing himself for the trip to Hollywood to be “In the movies.”
The showstopper is Jeffery Jackson as Biff Baker, the trumpet player doing the show for the last time in his Second Lieutenant’s Uniform.
So, maybe I was influenced by my parents’ tales from that time period. They told me dealing with rationing while listening to Martha Ray. They taught me that Mel Blanc worked more hours on the radio that he did for cartoons, that The Maltese Falcon was a radio play with the original cast, and that some families missed “War of the Worlds” because they were listening to Charlie McCarthy that week. They heard Joe Louis fighting live, and Lowell Thomas reporting from around the world. This world of radio was real to me growing up. Watching 1940s Radio Hour recreated this time and place and brought me closer to my folks, who have left us and won’t be there for Christmas this year, by showing me a Christmas they certainly would have understood.
As a partner piece to Theater in the Square’s Sanders Family Christmas, you cannot go wrong taking the whole family to see “1940s Radio Hour.”
Sanders Family Christmas & The 1940’s Radio Hour
Tues. at 8 pm. …….….$28/$25 (group rate-12 or more*)
Wed. at 8 pm ……..….$28/$25 (group rate-12 or more*)
Wed. at 2:30 pm …….$25/$22 (group rate-12 or more*)-SANDERS ONLY
Thurs. at 8 pm ……….$28/$25 (group rate-12 or more*)
Fri at 8 pm ………..….$31/$28 (group rate-12 or more*)
Sat. at 2:30 pm ………$31/$28 (group rate-12 or more*)-RADIO HOUR ONLY
Sat. at 8 pm .…………$35/(no group discount)
Sun. at 2:30 pm ………$31/$28 ((group rate-12 or more*)
Rain and Fire in Sedona
A rainy day in Sedona? What are we going to do. Everything we have planned is outdoors. I am pretty sure that is why people come to Sedona, for the beautiful OUTDOOR activities, like hiking, biking, Jeep tours, viewing the red rocks and photography.
What to do, what to do.
Oh, I know. I had the privilege of meeting some great artists that work in fire and glass! The perfect indoor activity when your outdoor plans are washed away!
The Melting Point in Sedona, conveniently located across the street for the Whole Foods (two birds with one stone, yeah!), is a group of artist focusing on creating and teaching others how to create as well.
When we entered the facilities, it was like entering a fine arts gallery. So many beautiful works of glass art. Jordan Ford is the general manager and one of the Artists. He came out of the workshop and told us the rules, then brought us into the fold.
We were about to become glass blowers!
Jordan had a love for the natural world from a very early age. He went on to study geology in college but that is when he discovered glass. He currently has Bachelor’s Degrees in both Earth Science/Geology and Visual Arts/Glassblowing.
Jordan says , “It’s the process of blowing glass that drives me. I find the physical act of making glass so overwhelmingly fascinating. I approach most of my work with a consideration for the more classical techniques – it’s the framework that I use as a jumping point for experimentation.”
Not only is Jordan incredibly talented, he is really personable and extremely funny. He made everyone in the room feel at ease and we all often irrupted in bouts of laughter.
Another artist that was helping us is Austin Littenberg. Austin became interested in the art of glass blowing at age 16 after watching a documentary. He spent over 12 years developing his craft and learning the technical precision needed to work at this level.
Austin views the many ways Art presents itself and is in tune with it all, and it shows.
Clearly these two artist love what they do, and I for one am grateful for their expertise and their willingness to show the world their art.
They worked with us to create a beautiful cactus, complete with three flowers, one for each kid, and a Sedona rock like base. We loved the patience they showed and the skill to make us feel at ease. We never felt like we were about to do something we just couldn’t. It felt like we had been doing this before. That is the measure of a true instructor.
Our work of art was complete and we left there feeling accomplished and quite honestly, amazing!
Both Austin and Jordan have remarkable skills but also wonderful comedic timing. They were a absolutely pleasure to meet and I look forward to keeping up with their art in the future.
If you find yourself in Sedona and want to meet some really wonderful people, stop by The Melting Point and say hello! While you’re there, blow some glass!
How could I forget one of them most important things; They have a studio dog! Austin brings his sweet baby girl to work with him and she is an angel! We loved her! Make sure you give her some love when you visit!
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Legends!
Behold the living legends! Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey brings the unbelievable to Children Of All Ages in an all-new show – – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS. Experience unimaginable family fun as amazing performers from around the globe perform awe-inspiring feats of daring, spectacles of strength and thrills of wonder to summon the mythical and the mysterious visions that have only existed in your imagination and now materialize before your eyes: the Unicorn, Pegasus and a Woolly the Mammoth! Join us for an unforgettable family night of legendary proportions at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS!
Free to all ticketholders, the All Access Pre-show allows circus fans to learn juggling and balancing skills, meet the performers of The Greatest Show On Earth, get autographs, take photos and enter to win a one-of-a-kind Pachyderm Painting.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents LEGENDS SM, playing Amway Center January 14-18, 2016. Save $4 off tickets using promo code 4MOM. Live tweet to us while you are there! @RinglingBros #BestGiftEver @BackstageBeat
NEW Children’s Museum of Atlanta Re-opens December 12!
Families will soon experience more STEAM-style activities and exhibits when visiting the newly renovated Children’s Museum of Atlanta, which re-opens to the public on Saturday, December 12. This iconic downtown attraction, which has been busy renovating since August of this year, now features targeted science, technology, engineering, arts and math education programming woven through almost every aspect of the enhanced space. Whether children build and shoot their own rocket launcher in the new “Gateway to the World” exhibit or design their dream home in the enhanced “Tools for Solutions” exhibit, the increased focus on STEAM learning enables the Museum to further prepare young children to be problem solvers and lifelong learners.
We got a sneak preview this week and I can honestly say it was the most fun my kids have had in a long time! They amount of things there are to do is mind boggling!
One of our favorite areas was Tools for Solutions – This enhanced, multi-layered zone reaches all ages and explores the science of building through four learning environments: the giant ball machine, Built-It Lab, Construction House and City Blocks. Using six simple machines, visitors can move balls through the Museum’s beloved giant ball machine. Children can also learn how to use real tools and materials in the new Build-It Lab, which will feature building workshops and more. This lab will also house a “Maker Space” to empower young children to harness their own ideas to build inventions and artistic creations. The Construction House, designed to showcase what is “behind the walls,” features a solar panel and incorporates activities on how to attach make-believe wires, connect pipes and insulate walls. City Blocks enables children to create skyscrapers and design the city of the future. Through this revitalized exhibit space, children can hone early and more complex math skills, as they learn the importance of processes and sequencing. They also utilize creativity, social emotional and gross and fine motor skills, while discovering that even the most intricate problems can be solved step-by-step with a solid strategy and through the use of tools.
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