A warm day in the deep South, earlier this century. A robust matron, and her companions, gather in the parlor to calm a delicate young woman. Enter a man, and their passions rise to the surface.
Tennessee Williams? No, Radio Gals, a down-home Arkansas slice of country-music theatre that played Off-Broadway in 1996 and now ends its brief run at Totem Pole Playhouse at Caledonia State Park in Fayetteville, PA. The show opened Aug. 17 and ends Aug. 29.
The matron, Hazel C. Hunt happens to run WGAL, a radio station serving Cedar Ridge, Arkansas, in the 1920s. Hunt's idea of programming includes local gossip, plugs for her home-brewed, all-purpose Horehound Compound, and healthy doses of The Hazelnuts, an all female troupe of singing musicians.
The man is O.B. Abbott, an inspector from the department of commerce (and a closet tenor), sent to shut them down for wavejumping, I.e. unofficially altering their transmission frequency. Naturally, during the course of the show, he abandons his profession, takes up with a frail young woman, and his crooning is broadcast coast-to-coast.
That said, be assured the plot is merely the backdrop for a collection of tunes by Mike Craver and Mark Hardwick, the team responsible for Oil City Symphony. (Craver will be in the Totem Pole cast, as he was in the show's Off-Broadway production two seasons back, playing Miss Azilee Swindle.) The eclectic combinations of instruments -- piano, ukelele, tuba, dishpan & spoons, the theremin -- are all played on stage by The Hazelnuts. Songs in Radio Gals include "Buster, He's a Hot Dog Now," "Faeries in My Mother's Garden," "When It's Sweetpea Time in Georgia" and "Edna Jones, the Elephant Girl." Radio Gals also includes a song about "Kittens in the Snow" with a chorus of "meows," an Egyptian homage called "Queenie Take Me Home," and an ode to "A Fireside, a Pipe and a Pet"
Also in the cast are Marcy McGuigan, Patti Perkins, Blair Ross, Guy Strobel and Off-Broadway cast-member Emily Mikesell, who also serves as musical director. Designing the show are Timothy Amrhein (set), Elaine M. Randolph (lighting), and Robin Shaner (costumes). Director David Hemsley Caldwell previously staged Radio Gals at Bridgeport, CT's Downtown Cabaret Theatre.
For tickets and information on Radio Gals, which ends the Totem Pole Playhouse season until summer 2000, call (717) 352-2164.