“Radio Hour Classics” another Arts Academy hit

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The Three Hills Arts Academy (THAA) run of the “Radio Hour Classics” was too short. That is to say, that I am sure that as word of mouth got out, there would be more “Dear Hearts and Gentle People of my “home town” who would love to have been able to take it in.

The latest offering in what has become an annual “Night on Broadway” series played for only three nights, October 26, 27 and 28.

Set in the “fictional” THAA radio studio with “live audience”, it featured players in retro dress that suited the times. The cast listed “Stanley Adams” (Adam Luijkx) in the sound control booth and “Lucy Devareaux” (Cherie Laplante) as the audience prompter and special effects producer, a task she shared with “Danny Malone” (Brad Luijkx). These roles usually go unnamed or are acknowledged in the program and at the end of the show.

(Did you know that a bag of potatoes dropped on the stage does a good job of sounding like a body hitting the ground, especially if accompanied by an appropriate “Ugh”?)

The “live studio audience” never missed a cue, and in fact often provided the “LAUGH” and “APPLAUSE” even before the cue card was presented. It was a fun time for everyone.

The cast, all with assumed names presented a wide variety of acts. In addition to their solos, duets, trios and the barbershop quartets, the audience also got in on some comedy routines, and “the mystery theatre” and “Adventures of Richard and Barbara”. “Peggy Lewis” (Tina Harback) did a great job being a ventriloquist, and singing yet.

In addition to each of the performers doing their musical or dramatic numbers, they also came forward to assume their “commercial voices” to advertise the local sponsors’ with tailor made jingles and ads that had a unique personalized touch not usually found in ads these days. For instance, a reference to “drive in services” NOT being continued at Shirley’s Flowers, or the ad for Dan’s Crow Removal with “Bye Bye Blackbird” musical introduction.

Some of the oldies featured were those that reminded me more of what I heard from my parents and I suspect for a large number in the audience (and perhaps on stage) songs that they would associate either with their grandparents, or never heard of at all.

I wondered if “Tony Martindale” (Dylan Burden) had to look up the meaning of “gigolo” as he sang with such enthusiasm “I’m just a gigolo”. It was perhaps the first time I actually knew there were lyrics to “In the mood” as “the Barrett Sisters” (Sheila Adkins, Alyssa Adkins and Jill White) sang their trio.

Many I suppose found the construction of the song “Sweet Violets” quite amusing as “Dinah Williams” (Veronica Johnson) and the Radio Hour Quartet (Brad Harback, Floyd Cotton, Jonathan Thiessen and Dylan Burden) told the story in song.

While a phrase from “Button up your overcoat” has been a part of my life since I was engaged 47 years ago, I hadn’t really heard the words of the whole song until “Candy Farrell” (Lynette Stahl) sang it.

“Betty Shore” (Darta Thiessen) did a wonderful job with the “boop-boop-a-doop” in “I wanna be loved by you”. “Jack Swift” (Jonathan Thiessen) did a knock out performance with his vocal of “Why not take all of me” and his saxophone accompaniment.

“Ethel King” (Tiffany Dietz) with “Marty Black” (Floyd Cotton) started off the “show” with “If I knew you were comin’”.

“Marlene Danner” (Marilyn Sept) gave us a classy “Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered”.

For many of the numbers, pianist “Sandra McGee” (Susan McNelly) gave either an introduction or complete accompaniment to the pieces. Otherwise a recording was provided.

Josh Laplante was “Art Chance” and he assumed various appropriate accents as he joined into the dialogue of the Adventures of Richard and Barbara or the commercials.

Brad Harback as “Wink Taylor” was the radio host and announcer.

The numbers mentioned above were only a few presented.

Snacks and beverages were featured from the beginning and were included in the ticket price.

Surely such a fun production could continue to bring in a full house if it were extended for a longer period of time, but this way, it should encourage everyone to make sure they get their tickets early for the next presentation.