Monday, March 1, 2010
Can there by anyone who doesn't appreciate the warm sepia glow of old time radio broadcasts? Of course, many favorite films from the 1930s and 1940s provide a similar feeling of nostalgia, but their images make a different experience. An old-time radio broadcast was magic because it came right into your home and into your head. Millions of Americans shared the experience of being, literally, "the radio audience" -- from audire, Latin, "to listen."
Those recordings and films remain enshrined in American memory, in part because of the portrayal of a simpler America -- one where folks were decent, did their duty, and agreed that America was headed for a brighter day, no matter how difficult the present circumstances. One proof of that mythic permanence in the American consciousness: this happy little warm kaleidoscope of a musical play evokes Christmastime in 1942 at a rundown radio studio in New York City. The play premiered in late 1979 -- 28 years ago.
Director Jennifer McKenna and the Wimberley Players do a fine job of creating the story, which starts slowly as the radio players arrive, chat, bicker and joke. This is a big cast -- 13 players and seven musicians -- and most of them are onstage throughout. That requires a lot of blocking and a lot of concentration, helped out by the superbly designed and finished set. The theatre audience becomes the studio audience, responding appropriately to the applause signs. They get involved in all those secondary stories and relationships unfolding behind the folks currently talking into the big old clunky microphones down front.
Read more and view images at AustinLiveTheatre.com . . . .