BETHANY, W.Va. — The era of big bands and live radio springs to life in the Bethany College Theatre’s second production of the 2008-09 academic year. Five performances of Walton Jones’ The 1940’s Radio Hour will be presented at the Wailes Theater on the College campus. The dates are Nov. 6-7-8 and Nov. 13-14. All performances start at 8 p.m.
The 1940’s Radio Hour is a nostalgic musical which takes the audience back to Dec. 21, 1942. The national radio show, The Mutual Manhattan Variety Cavalcade, is about to broadcast to all of America and her troops overseas. As the curtain rises, producer, director and master of ceremonies Cliff Feddington, played by Christopher Smurthwaite of Wellsburg, W.Va., seems to be the only person aware that the holiday broadcast is about to start. Several colorful characters add to the confusion by casually playing cards, stringing Christmas lights or even leaving for a drink.
The audience watches the chaos going on behind the scenes of the live broadcast while being entertained by such popular tunes from the era as “That Old Black Magic,” “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy From Company B,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” and “Our Love is Here to Stay.” Even the commercials hark back to a bygone era with once-familiar jingles for Pepsi-Cola and Chiquita Bananas.
The role of Lou, the stage manager, is played by Evan Oslund of Oakmont, Pa., a graduate of Linsly School in Wheeling, W.Va. Pops, the doorman, is portrayed by Rick Call of Wintersville, Ohio while Tina Rykowski of Weirton, W.Va. plays the role of Olive, the stagehand. Wheeling’s Casey Gray is cast in the role of vocalist Johnny Cantone with Patrick McGregor of Westerville, Ohio playing Wally Ferguson, the delivery boy looking for his big break.
The cast of crooners and singers includes Melody Brouthers of Cary, N.C.; Katie Orwig of Monongah, W.Va.; April O’Brien of Columbus, Ohio; Antoinette Douglas of Brampton, Ont.; Frannie Alexander of Marianna, Pa.; Elizabeth Foy of Cincinnati, Ohio; Sara Feldner of Cambridge, Ohio and Timothy Turner of Wellsburg, W.Va.
The play is directed by Luke Hardt, Bethany College Assistant Professor of Theatre and Chair of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts. It is scenically conceived by Tracie Duncan, Assistant Professor of Theatre at Bethany. Assistant Professor of Music David Rudari is the musical director and also plays the role of bandleader Zoot Doublemand. The stage manager is Lydia Lavin of Jackson Heights, N.Y. Assistant stage managers are Audrey Frank of St. Cloud, Fla. and Patrick Miller of Canonsburg, Pa.
At each performance, Wailes Theater will serve as a collection point for a Christmas Toy Drive to benefit the Family Violence Prevention program. Those attending the play are invited to bring new or gently used toys for distribution to children in need. Admission is $5 for off-campus patrons with reservations strongly encouraged. Reservations may be obtained by calling (304) 829-7124.
Bethany College is a small college of national distinction located on a picturesque and historic 1,300-acre campus in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the state’s oldest private college.