Cast announced for Iowa Lakes spring musical ‘The 1940’s Radio Hour’
The show is set on Dec. 21, 1942, in the studios of New York radio station WOV. It’s the final broadcast of the Mutual Manhattan Variety Cavalcade. World War II raging overseas has everyone on edge this particular Christmas season, making for good drama and lively performances. Songs and radio skits play out onstage as the show is being recorded to send to the troops.
“It’s a musical for people who don’t like musicals,” said Carol Ayres Stueven, one of the co-musical directors of the show. “It’s really more like a variety show and we have such incredible performers, it will definitely be a show you won’t want to miss.”
“The audience is part of the play from the moment they walk in,” Ayres Stueven said.
Those involved with the production say that despite the live band and skilled actors onstage, the appeal of the show is in nostalgia – even for those who weren’t alive at the time.
“The 1940’s Radio Hour” is just that: a glimpse into the successful operations of a radio show on a snowy winter night. It is not fraught with the characters’ personal drama, though there is some drama related to the production of the radio show itself. All in all, it is fun, funny and fanciful.
“The 1940’s Radio Hour” will be performed March 22, 23 and 24. Tickets went on sale on March 1.
While the show may be set in 1942, the characters are recognizable even 75 years later as familiar types. There’s the Italian tough guy who is a smooth crooner, the bubble-headed singer with the squeaky voice, and the stressed-out manager who tries to keep the show together.
Characters are trying to plan their next steps after their program ends. Some have big dreams of stardom while at least one knows he’s off to fly a plane in the war.
“It’s a show that reminds you to be grateful for what you have,” Ayres Stueven said. “You can’t go through this show without smiling.”
The 1940’s Radio Hour opens with Pops Bailey, played by Jim Kennedy, Okoboji, in the role of phone operator for the radio station. On the side, he’s a bookie using the station’s pay phone to take bets. He is an elderly man, adored by some characters and irritating to others.
Stanley, the station’s booth technician and handy-man, will be portrayed by Robert Noyes, an Iowa Lakes student from Estherville. This character is quiet but takes pride in his work as he supports the production of the radio show announcer and general manager, Clifton A. Feddington, played by Michael Nichols, an Iowa Lakes Spanish professor.
Lou Cohn, played by Nathan Strohman, an Iowa Lakes student from Spencer, is the stage manager for the radio show.
Johnny Cantone is the Dean Martin rat-pack wannabe set to be portrayed by Mark Lair, an Iowa Lakes alumnus from Terril. Cantone is a crooner in every sense, hitting notes that make the gals swoon. He references Sinatra and is quite the womanizer but his history with Ann Collier, played by Lorie Irwin, Estherville, is obvious. Collier is demur and quiet but when she steps up to the microphone, her voice will melt the heart, especially when she sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
B.J. Gibson, the Yale college student who wants to make it big, is played by Nicholas Adams, an Iowa Lakes student from Emmetsburg. He duets with Connie (Sarah Nehring) in the number “How About You.”
True to form, there’s a live band in the studio, and members of the Iowa Lakes Jazz Band will punch out tunes like Glenn Miller’s “(I’ve Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo,” George and Ira Gershwin’s “Love Is Here to Stay” and the Andrews Sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.