“The All Hands on Deck! Show,” a snappy and lighthearted musical revue, brought songs and dances from the 1940s to the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts stage Friday evening. A fast-paced Encore Series performance gliding flawlessly from one time-tested melody to another, the show was based on Bob Hope’s 1942 USO tour and depicted a hometown war-bond drive and live radio program set in 1942.
Hosted by Ted Crosley (a Bob Hope wannabe played by Jody Madaras, the show’s creator/director/choreographer), with performances by tenor John Handley (Jonathan Steffins), Daisy Maxwell (Kelly Murphy) and Betty Blake (Valerie Hill), the show featured an orchestra which included local musicians.
Billed as “America’s most patriotic musical show,” “The All Hands on Deck Show” is based out of Branson, Mo., and is dedicated to those who served in the armed forces during World War II and the Korean War. Linking the physical performance to history, slides of the original bond shows, and popular personalities of the 1940s were projected on the stage behind the singers throughout the evening. A tribute to veterans in the audience highlighted the performance.
With timeless songs like “Chatanooga Choo Choo,” “Pennsylvania Polka” and “I’m in the Mood for Love,” I felt as though the sheet music I had stored in my piano bench had somehow come to life. The melodies of those old songs are so satisfying, it was a pleasure to hear the music so well-sung. Likewise, it was fun to hear old-time commercials interspersed in the radio program, lending an interesting glimpse back into the history of mass marketing.
William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play will be the next Encore Series performance, April 5.
Dawne Leiker is a frequent contributor to The Hays Daily News.