High praise goes to this comedy for its use of musical instruments and its band. This two hour production of Radio Gals produced by Sidekick Theatre held at the Masonic Home in Bloomington, MN is a hilarious show set in the 1920s about the era of radio. The show’s setting takes place in a beautiful living room using two old mics as well as a piano, drum set, and a bass. The set is elaborate, yet simple the elements portraying the essence of the 1920’s.
The space was warm, welcoming, and inviting. Those coming to the show should arrive early as the seating is general admission. Because the production company has mostly matinees it seems to be drawing in primarily retirees/elderly people. The show itself, however, is not necessarily a show that is for that age group as it would appeal to many ages although would not be kid friendly necessarily. I would say the performance could really be a show that is centered for ages 10 and up, nothing bad in this show, but not something a young kid would understand.
The show only has five cast members with a two person band that is always present on stage. The band are a part of the cast which the director did a nice job of incorporating them as part of the show rather than having them off in a corner like many shows have bands that are in a pit, off to the side, even off stage. The cast worked well together and seemed to have a good chemistry. The band was always on point as well as those supporting the band. For various musical numbers cast members would support the band in playing various instruments of their own.
Three actors I want to praise are: Michelle Berg as Hazel, Colleen Everitt as America, and Benjamin Rubenstein as Abbott. In terms of characterization and commandating the stage, I give high praise to Michelle Berg as Hazel for her creamy rich low alto voice and her ability to command the stage. Her stage presence lead the show and the show would not have worked nearly as well without her. She had some parts of the show that you wanted to just listen to her voice. Colleen Everitt truly got cast as America for her talents as an instrumentalist. While she is triple treat, her musical abilities outshined them all. She played violin, piano, sax, and clarinet. Perhaps, I am missing something or misspoke on an instrument, but it was amazing to see someone play so many instruments while also singing and/or dancing as well. Finally, Benjamin, a leading man in his own. I saw him in Legally Blonde at Artistry who also commanded the stage, but what impressed me about his performance here was his singing. He has a beautiful singing voice that truly is mesmerizing.
One of the ladies next to me said it was the best show she has seen at the Masonic Home and she sees a lot. She says her favorite aspect was the use of all the musical instruments in the show. She was inspired with how many and how they used so many different kinds in every song with such a small cast. I agree with her. If there is one reason to see this show, it is to see how they use various musical instruments throughout the show being represented. It truly a work of art in that respect.
I walked into this show not really knowing what it was about or what to expect. The theme though was overwhelming powerful especially in today’s era. It is about freedom. It is about the power of women. It is about the power to be who you are. These themes are very fitting in today’s culture especially for what is happening politically. It is an upbeat, positive, toe tapping show that despite what might be happening politically in this world this show will lift your spirits.
While this show isn’t as recognizable as something like say as Mamma Mia is it has some really good qualities that I suggest you check out coming to see the show:
- It is a comedy and quite funny. The songs especially are songs that would be sung on the radio of the 1920s and are cheesy yet are realistic to the time period.
- Use of musical instruments and those playing. Practically everyone plays an instrument at some point in the show. Most of the cast take turns playing while singing. I dabble at playing guitar and I find it hard enough to sing and play guitar. They sing and play various instruments especially Colleen Everitt.
- Michelle Berg as Hazel is a stand out in her acting ability to command the stage. Her stage presence is a gift and something to watch for.
- The band in general is very strong. There are only two of them, but both members who mostly play the piano and bass are truly talented in their own right also singing at various points and breaking character at points to act. They even wear women's clothing to act to be in the scene. They are funny and at first you think they are characters in the show rather than band members.
I thoroughly enjoyed this production of Radio Gals and would recommend the show to all those looking for a good laugh and toe tapping 1920s numbers.