Slidell Little Theatre is launching the inaugural production of the newly formed Senior Actors Theatre of Slidell (SATS) with a live broadcast June 15, 2013, of “Slidell Radio City Playhouse,” a re-enactment of programs popular during the Golden Age of radio.
The Radio City Playhouse production will feature three shows from the 1940s: two comedies and one suspense drama!
The shows we’ve selected to re-enact are (in order of production): My Friend Irma: episode “Seeing Ghosts”; Sorry, Wrong Number; and The Great Gilderslevee, episode “Income Tax Forms.”
The following is some background material about each of our shows...
My Friend Irma
|Marie Wilson (left) and Cathy Lewis|
Dependable, level-headed Jane Stacy (portrayed by Cathy Lewis) began each weekly radio program by narrating a misadventure of her innocent, bewildered roommate, Irma, a dim-bulb stenographer from
Irma's boyfriend Al was a deadbeat, barely on the right side of the law, who had not held a job in years. Only someone like Irma could love Al, whose nickname for Irma was "Chicken." Al had many crazy get-rich-quick schemes, which never worked. Al planned to marry Irma at some future date so she could support him.
Professor Kropotkin, the Russian violinist at the Princess Burlesque theater, lived upstairs. He greeted Jane and Irma with remarks like, "My two little bunnies with one being an Easter bunny and the other being Bugs Bunny." The Professor insulted Mrs. O'Reilly, complained about his room and reluctantly became O'Reilly's love interest in an effort to make her forget his back rent.
Irma worked for the lawyer, Mr. Clyde. She had such an odd filing system that once when
Irma became less bright as the program evolved (she thought flypaper was airline stationery!). She also developed a tendency to whine or cry whenever something went wrong, which was at least once every show. Jane had a romantic inclination for her boss, millionaire Richard Rhinelander, but he had no real interest in her.
The film My Friend Irma (1949) starred Marie Wilson and Diana Lynn, but is mainly remembered today for introducing Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis to moviegoers, resulting in even more screen time for Martin and Lewis in the sequel, My Friend Irma Goes West (1950).
CAST OF “MY FRIEND IRMA”
(pictured from left) Kenneth Faherty, Beth Harris, Linda Wendle,
Margaret Rennie, Helen Joffe and Robert Jahncke.
Sorry, Wrong Number
|Agnes Moorehead as Mrs. Stevenson|
Miller’s blog, Escape and Suspense! is “devoted to the enjoyment of the CBS radio show Suspense and its sister show Escape.” In addition to providing considerable research into each show, Miller also includes audio links to the actual broadcasts.
The Suspense radio show was a thriller that ran on CBS Radio from 1942 to 1962. Between 1947 and 1954, Suspense also had a sister show named Escape, which focused on classic short stories and exotic adventure.
According to Miller, "Sorry, Wrong Number" was performed eight times between 1943 and 1960, “and it created a phenomenon of its own by provoking tremendous listener response.” All eight versions starred Agnes Moorehead in the lead role of Mrs. Elbert Stevenson.
The radio play was written by Lucille Fletcher and, aside from ‘The Hitchhiker,’ it is her best known work.
In the 1948 film Sorry, Wrong Number, the role of Mrs. Stevenson was played by Barbra Stanwyck, for which she later received an Academy Award nomination. Stanwyck performed the role of Mrs. Stevenson once on radio, along with her costar Burt Lancaster in1950.
For complete details about Sorry, Wrong Number, please visit Miller’s blog here.
CAST OF “SORRY, WRONG NUMBER”
(From left) Kenneth Faherty, Linda Wendle as Mrs. Stevenson, Robert Jahncke,
Helen Joffe and Beth Harris. Not pictured, Bob Gault.
The Great Gildersleeve
|Harold Peary as Gildy|
The Great Gildersleeve enjoyed its greatest popularity in the 1940s. Actor Harold Peary played the character during its transition from the parent show into the spin-off and later in four feature films released at the height of the show's popularity.
In Fibber McGee and Molly, Gildersleeve had been a pompous windbag and nemesis of Fibber McGee. But "Gildy" grew so popular that Kraft Foods—promoting its Parkay margarine—sponsored a new series featuring the somewhat mellowed and always befuddled Gildersleeve as the head of his own family.
The Great Gildersleeve premiered on NBC on August 31, 1941.The Gildersleeve character was located to Summerfield to oversee his late brother-in-law's estate and rear his orphaned niece and nephew, Marjorie and Leroy Forester. The household also includes a cook named Birdie.