Musical Celebrates War Bond Effort
By: Shelly Koppel; Staff writer
STUART: It’s 1942 and the United States has entered World War II. Hollywood is enlisted to help in the war effort with the Victory Tour Caravan, featuring luminaries such as Bob Hope Lucille Ball and Jack Benny. The goal was to sell war bonds to help the war effort.
Now Jody Madaras has recreated that tour with a new musical, “All Hands On Deck.” It will be performed at the Lyric Theatre on Jan. 27. Jody Madaras spoke from his home in New York about his show, in which he also has a starring role.
“When I got the idea to do the show, one of the things I found was that no one had ever done a show based on the caravan tour. It was a huge part of the war effort and no one had ever honored them. I ended up writing it, came up with a score and raised money. I really believed in it.”
The show is in two acts. The first act recreates the Hollywood tour. Madaras plays Ted Crosley, the Bob Hope type character who runs the tour. There is also a Hollywood tenor, a blonde bombshell in the Jane Russell mode and the girl next door, a la June Allyson. Madaras said that the bombshell, Betty Blake, is based in part on Frances Langford, the actress who is a beloved part of Stuart history. There is also a band, led by real-life band leader Rob Martino.
For the second act, the group is called upon to do an emergency live radio broadcast on Armed Forces Radio. The role of the studio audience is played by the Lyric audience.
“We turn the stage into a radio studio,” Madaras said. “There are skits, jingles and commercials for things like Maxwell House Coffee. We end the show with a big salute to the military with songs from all the branches.”
Madaras said the audience can expect great music throughout the show.
“It has 42 of the greatest American songs ever written,” he said. “It took me a long time to pick them. Part I has a huge sing-along that really gets it going. I’m very proud of these orchestrations. I worked very hard to make them authentic. It’s a Big Band sound.”
The music includes some of the most popular songs of the era, from “Beir Mir Bist Du Schon,” to “The Pennsylvania Polka,” to “Chattanooga Choo-Choo.”
Madaras, who is too young to remember World War II, credits his grandparents, June and Adolph Madaras, with giving him a strong sense of patriotism.
“She was in the American Legion Auxiliary,” he said. “Growing up with grandma, we always listened to those songs. She was very proud of the United States and believed it was best when the country was united. That’s the theme of “All Hands On Deck” and, hence, the title. Her handwriting is in the show.
“My grandpa came to Ellis Island (from Hungary) in 1911 and served in World War II. There are a lot of Vets in the family. Adolph and June are a big part of the show. Without their influence, I might not have had the idea.”
The show debuted in 2011 and has been well-received. Madaras hopes eventually to bring it to New York, but for now, he is happy taking his several casts around the country.
“We sold out in Dallas for four weeks,” he said. “The audience feels a little better and happier about our country.”
“All Hands On Deck” will be performed at the Lyric Theatre, 59 S.W. Flager Ave., Stuart, on Jan 27 at 4 and 7PM. Tickets are $45. Call the box office at (772)286-7827 or order online at www.lyrictheatre.com.