UAFS Lions roar in The 1940s Radio Hour
With the night of December 3 being the opening night of the 1940s Radio Hour, directed by Kevin Jones, finally here. It was time to be transported to a time when radio stations provided full on air performances while maintaining live audiences. Let's dive into the how and if Jones and the 1940s cast delivered the experience. As I walked in to take my seat, I was met with an interesting take on how to entertain the audience with them flowing in. With period piece background music playing, a single actor, Christopher Monterroza, who plays Pops, is working around the radio station set and answering a very busy payphone. Also the set I must say is amazingly put together. This was an enjoyable experience, as a majority of the time you're just sitting in your seat waiting on the show to start. As the show begins a chaotic flow of characters flow into the set, with Pops trying to maintain a clean floor and run a gambling operation on a pay phone. With the constant flow of being introduced to new characters leaving you dizzy, to the already introduced characters doing a range of activities at other parts of the set, this opening left you guessing on who was who and what was going on.
The chaos kept going as the cast were dancing and getting coffee throughout multiple musical performances. Those activities drew attention away from the key performers and many times made it difficult to enjoy the music. Without being able to enjoy the music, what is the point of a radio show at all? Even as the activities of the background cast pulled away from the music. It was a curse at times while a blessing at others. Some of the musical performances were delivered with professional grade work, while others were flat and came off like a bad audition on a televised talent show. As the musical numbers were delivered with a guessing game on level of work another issue arose to make the play difficult. The entire night's performance was a gamble on microphone feedback and levels. As the cast would make their way to give their musical numbers you had a random chance on the delivery and an even more random chance on whether their microphone was going to make them sound muted, loud, or completely drowned out by the band. Even with flat performances, technical issues, and chaotic background action there were some stand out performances. Hunter Seegers, who plays Clifton A. Feddington gave an amazing performance the entire show. Hunter's delivery and energy gave a stand out performance overshadowing many other troubles with the show. Next is Christopher Monterroza, who gave an outstanding slapstick type performance. His comedic timing and delivery were a beautiful breath of fresh air.
Even with those top cast members and many others that did outstandingly well, the best performer of the night has to be Alyssa Foley, who plays Ginger Brooks. Miss Foley's performance was in a league all of its own. With the delivery of an awkward comedic Eskimo Pie commercial, to a perfectly done 1940s Jersey accent Foley gave the performance of the night, and makes you forget about all the other issues of the play.
At the end of the show the audience is hit with an emotional goodbye. With 2nd Lt. Biff Baker, played by Houston Haught, leaving the station and his friends to join the war effort in Europe. As he goes to leave Clifton calls out to him, as he has left his trumpet. Biff tells Clifton to hold onto it until he returns from the war. This brings the goodbyes to an emotional peak and leaves me with a feeling of dread for Biff as he has hope for his return. Overall with all the issues with opening night, I believe Jones and the cast of the 1940s Radio Hour made a decent showing. I personally believe that anyone should give the show a chance, because of the determination of the cast. I'm in firm belief that the issues I have pointed out will be smoothed over by future performances.