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Statesboro goes back to the '40s

GSU, Averitt plays celebrate WWII era

Statesboro goes back to the '40s

Statesboro goes back to the '40s

Mariah Brown (from left), Brian Coote...

REVIEW of "The 1940's Radio Hour"

The 1940s are alive and well in Statesboro.
    “The 1940’s Radio Hour” opened Wednesday evening at the Black Box Theatre and runs through next Wednesday.
    Along similar lines —but a different musical — the Averitt Center for the Arts hosted two performances of “War Bonds: Songs and Letters of WWII” on Thursday. Like “Radio Hour,” “War Bonds” features a number of period songs.
    “The 1940’s Radio Hour” takes the audience on a delightful musical journey back in time. One will immediately be mesmerized by the antics and acting abilities of the cast. It is a stress-relieving fun time for all.
    The musical, by Walton Jones, is a cleverly created rendition of the first “Radio Hour” performed in 1942 by The Mutual Manhattan Variety Cavalcade. The radio show had its first performance at the Hotel Astor’s Algonquin Room on Dec. 21, 1942, with World War II well under way.
    The musical is a production of Georgia Southern’s Department of Communication Arts and features a wide variety of talent directed by Lisa Abbott, an assistant professor of theater and the play’s director, with musical support by Dr. Michael Braz, a retired professor of music who is providing musical direction. It is part of the department’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of radio.
    Various singing groups perform the songs of that bygone era, such as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B” and “Strike Up the Band.” Dancing, play-acting, period commercials and a live band lift spirits as members of the audience quickly become the radio production fans of the day.
    The stage is bustling with activity as the musical opens. A lighting stagehand works on a light for the evening production while performers are entering the studio to prepare for the show. Vignettes occur across the stage throughout the two-hour performance. Relationships among the actors catch the eye, which adds to the excitement by drawing the audience into their personal lives.
    The performance has both quality and range and deserves a packed house each night. It is perhaps the best venue available to Georgia Southern students and area residents over the next few evenings.
    “Directing ‘Radio Hour’ has given me a chance to revisit my memories of my grandfather and his delight in the music of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman,” Abbott said.
    The musical depicts a nation at war and how it came together through radio and music.
    “It’s both exciting and gratifying working with this talented cast and crew,” Braz said. “I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with Lisa Abbott in the past and am very pleased that we’re working together once again.”
    Patrick Galletta, a.k.a. Johnny Cantone, said: “I’m really excited about stepping back in time to this musical period. It is a period where some of the greatest singers of the 20th century started their legacies. We’ve got a great group of people who can sing and act really well.”
Galletta is the principal singer and performs well as a crooner in the mold of Sinatra.
    “I get to pretend I’m Billie Holiday for a night!” said Dani McGee, who plays Geneva Lee Brown, a black professional singer.
    McGee’s vocal range is superb, and she shows it by hitting every high note.
    The musical introduces a harassed producer, a drunken lead singer, the delivery boy who wants a shot in front of the mic, the second banana who dreams of singing a song and the trumpet-playing sound effects man who chooses a fighter jet over Glenn Miller.
    For a wonderful and exciting evening, do not miss this opportunity to be enriched by this performance.

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