Before televisions were in every home, before there was the internet, Facebook cellphones, or social media of all kinds, there was radio.
For many, the radios provided entertainment and in the evenings families would get together and listen to their favorite shows like “Amos and Andy” and “The Bell Telephone Hour”.
The Vicksburg Theater Guild invites everyone to take a step back in time when radio was on the air at their next performance of “1940s Radio Hour”.
âThis is a musical on a radio show made on December 21, 1942,â said VTG production manager Missy Tello. âWith the first 20 minutes dedicated to the actors preparing to broadcast the Mutual Manhattan Variety Cavalcade live from the Algonquin Room at the Astor Hotel.â
With the country in the throes of World War II, Tello said, the show portrays not only the celebration of the holidays, but also the challenges of those struggling.
One of the characters in the musical, Pops, lives in the radio station’s studio, Tello said, but doesn’t want anyone to know.
âThe show begins with him alone on stage sitting in a dimly lit radio studio, but as each character walks in the lights turn on a little more,â Tello said, reflecting the brightening in his mood.
But there is a bit of chaos on stage, and radio station general manager Clifton Feddington, played by Richard Hunt, is worthy of bonding.
Feddington has a drunken singer, a disturbing delivery boy who wishes to make his debut, an artist who competes to sing a ballad, and a trumpeter who is about to leave for war.
The chaos is hilarious, but after the number of songs performed that are reminiscent of the time, including “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”, “Strike Up the Band”, “Ain’t She Sweet” and “Blue Moon”.
âOne of my favorite scenes is in Blue Moon,â Tello said.
Tello’s son, who plays percussion on the show, gets to heckle Mitch Cochran, who is a preacher in the production.
âMitch is a good sport about it, but it tickles me to see him play,â she said.
The VTG’s production of “1940s Radio Hour” consists of a 13-member cast and a 12-piece orchestra conducted by Dr. Paul Ballard.
Additionally, Natchez native Burnley Cook plays Zoot Doubleman, the production pianist.
Tello said Cook had been playing the piano for 52 years and had a resume consisting of several theatrical productions, where he served as a director, music director and pianist. He was employed for four years as the technical director of the Natchez Little Theater and he is a piano technician, tuner and reconstructor, she said.
âHe said he enjoyed coming here,â said Tello, part of a VTG production.
In 2011, Tello said that she and her family played “1940s radio hour” at The Strand.
âMy family played in this musical 10 years ago and I wanted to bring this piece to VTG to hopefully give it a bigger audience because I fell in love with the piece. It reminds me of stories that my parents told me, who lived through that time, âshe said.
Tello said she sees this musical as her âChristmas present to the community,â where they can experience live music and an entertaining play with family and friends.
âI hope people walk away humming one of the songs and feeling closer to the ones they love. Often the best gifts aren’t under the tree, but the experiences you have with your loved one. family and friends, âshe said.
The 1940s Radio Hour shows will run at 7:30 p.m. on December 3, 4, 10 and 11 and at 2 p.m. on December 5 and 12 at the Parkside Playhouse Theater, 101 Iowa Blvd.
Tickets cost $ 20, $ 15 for ages 13-19 and 65 and over and $ 10 for ages 12 and under and are available at the box office or online at www.e-vtg.com.events.10243.
“1940s Radio Hour” is part of the VTG season ticket.
About Terri Cowart Frazier
Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Soon after, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter for the Vicksburg Post and editor-in-chief of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which was awarded first place by the Mississippi Press Association. She also received the first place award in the editorial division of the MPA’s Better Newspaper competition for “Best Report.”
Terri is a graduate of Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with a focus on public relations.
Before working for The Post a little over 10 years ago, she worked as a freelance writer for the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay-at-home mom.
Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a life member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a former member of the Sampler Antique Club and the Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr Walter Frazier.
âWhether it’s staying informed on local government matters or hearing the stories of its residents, a local newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and I hope that with theirs and local support I can continue to grow and hone my skills while helping to share the stories in Vicksburg. When people ask me what I love most about my job, my answer is always âpeopleâ.
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