The year was 1942, and World War II was raging on. As men fight, performers like Bob Hope and Bing Crosby went out to the soldiers and gave them a gift – the gift of entertainment.
Now, more than 50 years later, the “All Hands on Deck” musical carries on the Tinsel Towns’ stars mission of bringing audiences versatile performances.
This week, the Aiken Performing Arts Group will be bringing this two-act revue to town on Thursday and Friday.
The show opens at 8 p.m. both nights at the URS Center for Performing Arts, featuring a touring group of four triple-threat artists – as comics, singers and dancers – and a nine-piece orchestra.
Showcased as a live radio show, the troupe members will be performing acts such as singing their own versions of more than 40 classic big band hits and acting out impromptu skits and classical commercials. All this will lead up to the grand patriotic finale.
The revue centers around host Ted Crosley, who is the Bob Hope-like character, and his trio John Handley, Hollywood’s favorite new tenor, Daisy Maxwell, the good-girl-next-door character, and Betty Blake, the “blonde bombshell.”
Handley plays Michael Pandolfo, a tap dancer and performer who has been on stage since he was 8. Maxwell will be played by Amy Atkins, a woman from a strong musical background with roles like Christine from “Phantom of the Opera” in her résumé. Blake will be performed by Natalie Berry, a Texas native who is the Children’s Theater and Education for Artisan Center Theater director.
Tim Dewhirst, who is a family man with “A Christmas Story” and “Beauty and the Beast” in his repertoire, will be the announcer, and David Vandervliet, who has dealt also with directing, stage managing and writing, is the show’s production manager.
Jody Madaras, who plays Crosley, is the director and choreographer, but he also wrote the script and music. Quincy Marr, who has played Handley before, helped to come up with the idea.
Madaras started scripting the show back in 2007, being inspired by a couple of factors.
He comes from a family of war veterans and one very patriotic grandma.
“We listened to music from ’40s on her record player,” he said.
The Hollywood Victory Caravan, a group that traveled across the country to raise war bonds in 1942, also struck a special note with Madaras.
“They were a major contributor to the war effort,” he said. “They raised millions ... I wanted to write a show to showcase them, so they aren’t forgotten.”
Madaras, who has had fun with the show since its start, strives to keep every aspect authentic.
The characters, “which took a lot of
research,” are loosely based off real Hollywood stars.
The orchestra will be comprised of South Carolina musicians, Madaras said. The reason the tour performs with local orchestra is because the caravan usually did.
The year 1942 even holds a deeper meaning that just its on-surface value.
“I realized in 1942, it was one of the only clear-cut years in American history where we all united, where we all worked together,” Madaras said.
“That’s the theme of the show.”
And that’s his reasoning for the title, “All Hands on Deck.”
Cathy Traver, APAG’s arts administrator, has been excited about “Deck” coming for a while.
“It’s going to be really cute and really fun,” she said. “We are excited to get them.”
APAG will be doing one of its educational outreaches at Aiken High on Friday.
Tickets are $40 for adults and $20 for students with valid student IDs. They can be purchased at online at www.apagonline.org or by calling 648-1438.
URS Center is at 126 Newberry St.
For more information on the show, visit www.allhandsondeckthemusical.org or www.apagonline.org.
Want to Go?
Aiken Performing Arts Group
“All Hands on Deck”
Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m.
URS Center for Performing Arts, 126 Newberry St.
$40 for adults, $20 for students with valid student IDs
Visit www.allhandsondeckthemusical.org or www.apagonline.org
Photo Courtesy of Official Website "All Hands on Deck" brings audiences back to the 1940s with a wide-range of acts. Pictured, from left, is Sean Watkins as John Handley, Haley Swindal as Daisy Maxwell, Chelsea Lovett as Betty Blake and Jody Madaras as Ted Crosley. This is the cast that appeared at the Surflight Theatre in New Jersey in 2011 and will not be the same group coming to Aiken.×
Photo Courtesy of Official Website "All Hands on Deck" brings audiences back to the 1940s with a wide-range of acts. Pictured, from left, is Chelsea Lovett as Betty Blake, Sean Watkins as John Handley, Haley Swindal as Daisy Maxwell, and Sean Watkins as John Handley, Jody Madaras as Ted Crosley. This is the cast that appeared at the Surflight Theatre in New Jersey in 2011 and will not be the same group coming to Aiken.×
Photo Courtesy of Official Website "All Hands on Deck" has been bringing audiences back to 1940 since at least 2011 and will be coming to Aiken this week. Pictured, from left, is Jody Madaras as Ted Crosley, Emily Knox Peterson as Daisy Maxwell, Ashley McKay as Betty Blake and Quincy Marr as John Handley. This will not be the same cast coming.×