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World War II Museum's Stage Door Canteen revisits radio heyday with 'On the Air'

Cast, Left to Right:  Carmen Barika (Dorothy Tompkins); Troi Bechet (Melba Tompkins); Bob Eades, Jr. (Frank Dane); Courtney Boe (Betty Lou Fairchild) and Gary Rucker (Buddy Bordelon)

Long before cell phones, social media or flat-screen TVs, Americans spent their evenings gathered around the family radio. It was their source for music, entertainment and much-anticipated news of the war that raged overseas.

The Stage Door Canteen in The National WWII Museum takes a page from the past with a glimpse into the heyday of radio with On the Air, a new production debuting Friday.

Written by Victoria Reed, the Canteen’s Director of Entertainment, and award-winning actor, writer and director Sean Patterson, On The Air recreates a live radio broadcast from fictional New Orleans station WSDC on Mother’s Day, 1945. The cast of five includes a singing W.A.C., a boisterous bandleader, and a blues singer who can belt out a torch song. The live band brings the era to life with a timeless musical score, comedy and more.

Among popular songs from the era featured in the show are The Trolley Song, Don’t Fence Me In, Blues in the Night, Mairzy Doats and Chattanooga Choo-Choo. The cast includes Carmen Barika, Troi Bechet ,Courtney Boe, Bob Edes, Jr. and Gary Rucker.

Tickets for On the Air are on sale at www.stagedoorcanteen.org. Performances are  Friday and Saturday evenings ($30) with a dinner option ($60) by the American Sector, a Chef John Besh restaurant, and Sunday brunch matinees ($60). On the Air runs through June 26. Call 504-529-1943 for more information.

Funding for On the Air is provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The National World War II Museum is a founding partner of NolaVie.

Renee Peck is editor of NolaVie. Email her at renee@nolavie.com.