All Hands on Deck 2017
By Dawn M. Erickson
In a town that prides itself on its patriotism and appreciation for military service, "All Hands On Deck" is undoubtedly the "most patriotic show" in Branson. Performing for its second season at the Dutton theater, the Broadway-style musical production preserves the memory of the 1940's USO show.
Created by Broadway veteran Jody Madaras, "All Hands On Deck" features four singing and dancing stars, the nine-piece Hollywood Victory Caravan Orchestra, and 42 songs that became hits at a time when American families gathered around their radios for the latest war news and popular music.
Madaras' production is based on the story of the once-famous Hollywood Victory Caravan which brought the film stars together in a traveling show to sell war bonds and rally support for the nation's unity.On stage, the four characters travel by train from city to city presenting songs, dance, skits and classic commercials. Madaras discovered that the Victory Caravan had apparently never been featured in a production. "It was a huge part of the war effort and no one had ever fully honored them," he said.
"I wanted to write about patriotic unity, what's right about our country, and thank our veterans in a musical way," he said. "I know how much these songs mean to them. I wanted audiences to leave feeling a little better and happier about our country."
Madaras serves as director and choreographer as well as starring as film entertainer Ted Crosley, Valerie Hill stars as actress Betty Blake, McKenzie Custin as Daisy Maxwell and Hunter Frederick as John Handley. Rebecca Kostell occasionally performs either of the female roles. All have extensive experience in theatre and performance venues in New York and other major cities.
Also featured is "Ollie," a 1952 Willys Navy Issue M38A1 Shore Patrol Jeep, which can be seen on the streets of Branson and on display at the theater.
Among the favorite wartime songs performed in "All Hands On Deck" are "America the Beautiful," "By the Light of the Silvery Moon," "Chattanooga Choo Choo,' "Don't Fence Me In,' "I'll Never Smile Again," "Moonlight Bay," "Rosie the Riveter," Sentimental Journey," "Thanks for the Memory," and many, many more.
The nine-piece Hollywood Victory Caravan Orchestra is also featured and includes some of Branson area's finest musicians.
All four performers and orchestra are on stage for almost every minute of the lively production with songs, dances, comedy and the spirit of the times. The music is nostalgic and sentimental, and inspirational as well as it affirms timeless American values.
Bus and tour groups, military and class reunions are encouraged to attend. Information is available by calling 417-230-7631 or by emailing AHODgroups@gmail.com.
"All Hands On Deck" also offers a firsthand experience to student groups. Students can "experience Broadway in Branson" by learning more about the "big band" musical style, classic American songs, tight harmonies and American unity in the World War II/Korean War era. Student groups can rehearse their singing, dancing and acting in customized sessions. The Master Class Student Package also offers a two-hour class with veteran Broadway performers, a precook performance opportunity and tickets to an "All Hands On Deck" performance. Accommodations may also be arranged. Complete information is available by contacting Valerie Hill, 646-418-0126.
Group information is available by calling the Dutton Theater, 417-332-2772. More information about the show and its performers can be found at www.allhandsondeckshow.com.
"All Hands On Deck" is presented April 11 to June 6, and September 1 - Dec. 6 at the Dutton Theater. Shows in November and December are holiday presentations.