July 13, 2008

Magic of ‘Radio’ Takes Audience Back to ’40s

By Pam Firmin, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.

Jul. 13--Anyone too young to have sat around listening to the radio with their parents can sample home entertainment 1940s style with all the trimmings at "The Boogie Woogie Radio Show."

Commercials are free of political correctness, i.e. "More doctors smoke Camel cigarettes than any other cigarette," and in case of audience indecision, a large sign lights up to instruct "applaud." Add vintage costumes, an original mystery serial with sound effects and audience participation.

What you've got is the summer fundraiser for Center Stage in Biloxi. It opens Thursday and runs through July 27, except Monday.

"A show inside of a show," says its writer David Delk, who co-directs with Chuck White, "... back to a time when you had to use your imagination when you heard the sound effects of someone walking down a hallway or dialing a phone."

Think music like "Chattanooga Choo Choo" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," toe-tapping pieces that'll have the audience swinging. Behind the scenes, the preparations are professional. Music director Donny Taylor has arranged several of the songs into four-part harmony pieces and inserted acappella places in songs with very tight harmony. He and Delk even wrote an original song for the show called... the "Boogie Woogie Radio Show" song.

Boogieing right along, it seems these guys have also created a beverage to sell in the lobby, called the Boogie Woogie Wa-hooooo.

Performers are Mike Lacy, Amy Rogers, Wayne Stephens, Elizabeth Hart, all part of the show's debut appearance at Alexis Dinner Theater in 2002, and newcomers Michael Gilreath and Donna Taylor.

Adapted from Delk's 2001 script, the current version is designed to make the audience feel as if they just stepped back into the 1940s. War posters ("Uncle Same Wants YOU") will be up. Vintage radios that Delk collects are incorporated into the stage setting. The cast comes off stage and dances with the audience.

And watch out for Wayne Stephens, the performer with white hair, whose Rock Dunaway character tries to put a girdle on someone in the audience.

Money raised will help Center Stage pay expenses through the coming year as crowds, thus revenue, continue to be down since Katrina.

Says Delk, "It's a wonderfully visual show. Things never stop happening."

He promises a lot of laughter, a little slapstick and a few touching moments.

If you go What: Center Stage theater's summer fundraiser is 'The Boogie Woogie Radio Show," written by David Delk and based on old 1940s radio shows.

Where: 240 Eisenhower Drive, about midway between Edgewater Mall and Pass Road, Biloxi.

When: 8 p.m. July 17-19 and 22-26 and 2 p.m. July 20 and 27.

Admission: $15 Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday matinee; $18 Fridays and Saturdays.

Who: Directed by Chuck White and David Delk; music director Donnie Taylor and choreographer Jennifer Krohn. Performers are Mike Lacy, Amy Rogers, Wayne Stephens, Elizabeth Hart, Michael Gilreath and Donna Taylor. Details: 388-6258; visit centerstagebiloxi.org.


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Copyright (c) 2008, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.

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