Theatre Lawrence’s ‘1940’s Radio Hour’ production will be streamed this week
photo by: Theatre Lawrence
Much like the World War II-era radio broadcasts on which it is based, Theatre Lawrence’s upcoming show will come right into the audience’s homes — but in an online streaming format because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The theater’s performance of “The 1940’s Radio Hour” has already been recorded, and the video of the performance will be streamed online this week. Viewers will still need to purchase tickets for the show, a period piece that includes such well-known songs as “That Old Black Magic,” “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)” and “Ain’t She Sweet.”
Director Ric Averill said “The 1940’s Radio Hour,” which was written in 1979, is a nostalgic piece that still feels relevant because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The show is set in December 1942 in the midst of World War II, and there are themes of longing for better times.
“It will be a delightful movie to watch at the holiday time,” Averill said. Since the show is set in December, there are also multiple holiday tunes in the lineup.
Theatre Lawrence filmed the show on Sunday and Monday and will edit the footage into a high-quality video for the streaming production. This is Theatre Lawrence’s first fully streamed show.
Averill said the actors all wore clear masks and remained socially distanced during the show. It begins with the singers at their dressing areas, which are “conveniently 6 feet apart,” Averill said. Then, as the radio broadcast begins, the dressing areas rotate and turn into each singer’s stand, with an old-school microphone on top.
photo by: Theatre Lawrence
Averill said the show has a particularly strong group of singers, and he called the musical numbers “charming and fun.” The cast includes a couple of faces from local government — Douglas County Commission Chair Patrick Kelly plays the emcee, and City of Lawrence Finance Director Jeremy Willmoth is also in the production. Other cast members include Chuck Mosley, Collier Case, Ryan Hamlin, Tony Console, Cynthia Walker, Genée Figuieras and Kelli Szrot.
One of Averill’s favorite parts of the show, he said, was getting to work with Figuieras. Decades ago, Averill directed a youth theater production of “Godspell” where Figuieras played Jesus.
“In a personal and sentimental way … that moment kind of just is one of those really wonderful full-circle moments,” he said of getting to work with Figuieras another time.
Monday night was the cast’s final night together, Averill said. Just like the audience, they won’t see the filmed production of the show until it’s released Thursday night.
“The 1940’s Radio Hour” will be streamed at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets cost $30 and can be purchased online at theatrelawrence.com.