Called “a loving Valentine to a bygone America,” and “a hilarious homespun musical comedy” the musical “Radio Gals” will be presented by the Sterling Community Theatre Troupe at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 12, 13 and 14 and at 3:00 pm on Jan. 15. Though a Sterling production the show will be presented at the Flag Theatre in Hutchinson, 310 North Main, in cooperation with Hutchinson’s Family Community Theatre.
With directors and over half the cast from Sterling and other members from the Hutchinson area, the production has been rehearsing through December in Sterling. Long-time Sterling Community Theatre Troupe members Larry and Amy Brownlee, Piper Harding and Seth Svaty are all featured in the cast with Harding also acting as Director and Larry Brownlee as Music Director.
‘Radio Gals,’ is a relatively unknown semi-book, semi-revue, semi-concert sort of musical that promises audiences plenty of laughs and a heavy dose of nostalgia. The show takes audiences into the parlor of Hazel Hunt’s home in Cedar Ridge, Ark. The time is the 1920’s prohibition, but before the Stock Market crash, when radio ruled the airwaves and small stations thrived.
To the home of Miss Hazel C. Hunt in Cedar Ridge, Ark. microphones have been added. Also on hand are a piano, guitar, string bass, tuba, clarinet, flute, trumpet, trombone, accordion, drums, xylophone, chimes plus seven ukuleles and a kazoo not to mention a bird whistle and a tambourine.
“Hazel Hunt’s parlor would be similar to everyone’s grandma or aunt who collected everything and had it in the parlor,” Director and actress Piper Harding said. “It’s homey.”
Hazel is the town’s music teacher. Upon her retirement she received a 500 watts Western Electric AM transmitter and begins broadcasting as WGAL. Terri Torres, retired speech pathologist from Hutchinson will play Hazel.
Joining in this ambitious endeavor are the “Hazelnuts,” women singers from a local social chapter. What is broadcast over the local airwaves are a small town diary, calendar, music and gossip. Hazel and the Hazelnuts provide weather reports, gossip, baseball scores, community announcements, and most importantly, a wealth of whimsical musical numbers that range in style from ragtime to swing, from crooning to bluegrass, from the art song to the Broadway show tune. They also finance their enterprise by selling Hunt’s Horehound Compound, a dubious brew made from Grandpa Hunt’s time-proven recipe - it cures dyspepsia and strips floor wax.
The Hazelnuts include Piper Harding, Sterling resident; Amy Brownlee, Sterling USD 376 Librarian; Chelsey Juenemann, Fairfield English teacher; Larry Brownlee, Sterling schools Band Director and Glen Grunwald, Hutchinson radio personality.
With Hazel’s habit of “channel wandering” – broadcasting over any open channel she can find, her broadcasts have been heard in homes as far away as New York. Things get complicated when O.B. Abbott, a Federal Radio Inspector, enters the scene to rescue the airwaves from amateurs like Hazel. Abbott is played by Sterling resident and farmer Seth Svaty.
His job gets “iffy” when he falls under the spell of the Hazelnut’s music and becomes enamored with one of the flappers. He is soon crooning along with the women and talented musicians.
“I love the music and the quirky characters,” says Director/Actress Piper Harding. “Each one is not only quirky, but fun and real, and people will relate to them. I think everyone knows a quirky person, especially in the theater. It’s not a huge, flashy production. It’s fun, very sweet and innocent.”
Original songs such as, “That Wicky Wacky Hula Hula Honka Wonke Honolulu Hawaiian Honey of Mine,” set audience hearts thumping and toes tapping. This family-friendly musical is dizzy, daffy and silly but lets audiences relax and have a good time.
Tickets for the unique musical which was written and composed by Mike Craver and Mark Hardwick are $10 for adults and $5 for students and are available online through www.radiogals.com or at the door beginning one hour before each performance.