As I walked into this state-of-the-art, newly renovated small theatre, I felt like something magical was going to happen. I was definitely looking forward to the show and its special host.
Who better than legend Margaret O’Brien, veteran 1940’s Radio and MGM personality to help the ACME COMEDY THEATRE introduce their 1940’s style improv radio show called LIQUID RADIO PLAYERS, directed by Stanley Morse? After all, one of her four stars on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame is for Radio.
The tribute was garnered because of her more than 400 radio appearances, which included Command Performance and classic suspense theatre epics. Some of her Radio co-stars were Clark Gable, Jimmy Durante, Bing Crosby, Charles Laughton and Talullah Bankhead among others. Margaret was a major MGM child star, receiving an Academy Award in 1944 for Meet Me in St. Louis with Judy Garland. She continued to be the reigning child star in numerous films throughout the decade including The Secret Garden and Little Women (both released in 1949).
As she entered the stage, she was greeted with a standing ovation and loads of clapping. She said shefelt right at home on the stage. She shared some of her live radio experiences while playing Lux Video Theatre where she portrayed Juliet as a teenager. She also talked about a script mishap. While only four and unable to read, she learned to read lips for her lines.
Margaret certainly is the ideal person to host this 1940’s entertainment tribute. Today, it seems amazing that her career started from a photo taken with her dog.
The special piano, with 40 plus keys, played by Jonathan Greene began to play. The stage was set, radio station style, along with narration and MC chores by the remarkable owner/director Travis Oates who took the audience back to the 1940’s.
We- the audience- were asked to think up genre, characters, and plot -even advertisers. Then various members of the troupe (Brian Breiter, Jeannie Roshar, Bill Chott, Robert Covarrubias, Craig Tollifson, and Kristen Truckess) assumed the roles selected by us. There was no script, no retakes and no film… this was live radio and it was extremely funny.
There were lines on lines, gags on gags and even a few jams when these very talented thespians were cracking each other up. The radio show intermission performance by Steven Benaquist was clever and funny since he actually sang very little and needed a light. The unaccredited vintage clothing, along with Jesse Mackey as the Foley, provided sounds that enhanced the comedy while gaining loads of laughter.
Margaret O’Brien was a regular guest and host on the hit radio show Command Performance appearing with Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour and the now famous Christmas Day performance she hosted in 1945 with her guests Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Elizabeth Taylor.
Her film debut was a one-minute shot in MGM’s Babes on Broadway in 1941. Her big moment came when she was cast in Journey for Margaret in 1942. Instant stardom followed and throughout the1940s she remained an icon.
Check out the show and escape back in time… you’ll love it. Acme Theatre offers 5 nights of entertainment and will make you feel welcome.