A very long Radio Hour at Landmark

Enter the radio station of WOV and get ready for a live holiday radio broadcast. That’s the set-up for Walton Jones’ musical The 1940’s Radio Hour, presented by Landmark Community Theatre at the Thomaston Opera House. Because there’s no real plot, the focus is on the characters and they are not developed well enough that we get to know any of them very well. What we get is an inkling of stereotyped characters, like the drunk featured male singer who is heading out to Hollywood, the sexy blonde, the kid waiting for a big break, the soldier, etc. However, there’s no depth to the piece. It’s just an excuse to present some 1940’s music, which in itself is a good excuse.

Directed by Dan Checovetes, the first half hour comes across as though the cast is under-rehearsed. Actors seem to walk aimlessly around the stage and perform meaningless tasks, mouthing conversations that are not really taking place. It’s only when the band finally enters the stage that things pick up.

John Dressel and Jim Luurtsema are co-music directors. The band performs very well, though on several occasions it drowned out the vocalists. The vocalists all perform well enough but there’s little passion in this production. Therefore, while each singer has his/her moment, there are too many moments lost to bad acoustics or unintelligible enunciations. Ultimately, this renders the show an entertaining middle-of-the-road community theater production.

Rhiannon Carta’s choreography proved a challenge for the community actors who were for the most part clumsy. There wasn’t much of a set because the band was onstage. The old fashioned sound effects table could have been better emphasized because it really added interest to the show was very well executed. The costumes were not iconic1940s, but suggested the era well enough.

What worked so well for this show is that the musical numbers brought back memories for many in the audience. Some of the audience members hummed the tunes as the vocalists sang. Another aspect that worked very well was the dramatic reading from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Here the actors were at their best.

The cast includes: Jeff Savage, Allen Markko, Jim Luurtsema, Nolan Cummings, Steve Sorriero, Robert Saunders, Alexa Campagna, Becky Sawicki, Michael Newman, Frank Beaudry, Betsy Ingraham, Carletha Hawley, and Justin Normandin. The big number in the show goes to Carletha Hawley who sings At Last with plenty of heart.

The production plays through Dec. 13. Box office: 860-283-8558

Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association.  She welcomes comments. Contact: jgrochman@gmail.com