Aired on KSDS-FM on 12/23/16
RUN DATES: 12/1/16 – 12/31/16
VENUE: New Village Arts
A dab of sentimentality, a dollop of nostalgia and a heaping spoonful of humor and holiday cheer.
“The 1940s Radio Hour” cooks up a bucket of warm feelings, and this year, New Village Arts has tweaked the recipe to make it even more tasty.
Cast changes include nimble Kevane La’Marr Coleman, as the founder of the New York City Mutual Manhattan Variety Cavalcade. This is their Christmas special, and Coleman’s voice is a terrific addition to the mix. Li-Anne Rowswell has a fun time with the sound effects. And NVA’s Director of Connectivity, AJ Knox, is a hoot as the comic member of the troupe.
There’s the usual array of on-air bloopers and off-mic conflicts. One performer doesn’t show up, so the delivery boy joyfully stands in; the lead singer is getting sloshed; and there’s one jilted lover and two adorable and enduring ones; that would be BJ and Connie, played by the dance-happy duo, Zackary Scot Wolfe and Danielle Levas. Sultry-voiced Marlene Montes does a hilariously sexy turn on a commercial for Eskimo pies, as well as her knockout number, “Blues in the Night,” AKA “My Mama Done Told Me.”
The featured vocalists are supple-voiced Kelly Derouin, and Eric Casalini, as a slick, womanizing Sinatra type.
Music director and pianist Tony Houck has pumped up some of the arrangements, and added a standup bass player, Trevor Mulvey. They get to show a little personality, and Houck scats a bit. Wally Ferguson is cute as the eager delivery boy, and Jack Missett makes for a humorous book-making custodian.
There’s no deep story, no moral. The sentimental part relates to BJ’s going off the next day to be a fighter pilot. Everyone hopes the war will be over by next Christmas, which would be 1944; no luck on that score.
But the freshly-minted carols and the lively energy of the cast keep the dark thoughts at bay – which has a salutary effect on all of us this year.
©2016 PAT LAUNER, San Diego Theater Reviews