140 West Tampa Ave. Venice, Florida 34285
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Radio Gals’ charm with silly antics and sweet music at Venice Theatre Cabaret
“Radio Gals” is one of the silliest musicals I’ve seen, but it
The show by Mike Craver and Mark Hardwick is about a group of women in the 1920s who broadcast a radio program on WGAL from the living room of Hazel Hunt in Cedar Ridge, Arkansas. She received a radio transmitter as a gift when she retired as a music teacher and put it to use.
Who knew that the government monitors broadcast signals? So, amid the madcap mix of local news, songs and stories, Hazel and her Hazelnuts deal with an officer from the Department of Commerce looking into illegal broadcasts and possible communist infiltration of the airwaves.
But these women don’t let a little threat get in their way. Instead, they tap into O.B. Abbott’s long-hidden desire to perform and get him in on the act.
The women live out their dreams and generally have a ball in the cozy living room designed by Francine Smetts. Ross Boehringer’s attractive costumes establish the characters, from the matronly Hazel played by Dawn Carpenter to the would-be elegance of the more spiritual Gladys, played by Kim Kollar.
Though Carpenter looks too young to play Hazel, she comes off as an instant friend. She has a warm, sunny personality (perhaps aided by her grandfather’s liquor-enhanced elixir that she hawks and sips during her broadcasts). Kollar’s Gladys thinks of herself as worldly but is still down-home, and she’s hilarious flirting with David Brown as the outwardly stern but actually sweet government inspector O.B. Abbott.
Bobbi Eschenbach as America is the always-grinning best friend sidekick, and Rebecca Phippard plays Rennabelle with a youthful innocence.
The women’s antics may be frivolous, but when they join voices with the on-stage band led by musical director and pianist Michelle Kasanofsky they make musical magic and sweet harmonies.
They’re joined on vocals by Cathy Baudrit-Noeth, who emerges from the band platform with a hilariously dry, hang-dog look that’s a wonderful contrast to the exuberance of the others. The costumed band members include Michelle Neal, who plays numerous instruments and drummer Priscilla Boyd on drums.
The songs have a humorous tone, even when they’re meant to be more serious, and make you believe they actually came out of the 1920s.
It’s staged by Allan Kollar and choreographer Becky Holahan in way that makes you overlook the way the women ignore a needed microphone or dance around the living room as if performing for an audience (when it’s just us). Logic doesn’t apply when you’re having so much fun.