Call American Century’s Reprisal of Call Me Mister a Success!By Laura & Mike Clark • Jun 18th, 2006 • Category: Reviews
Listen to our review of American Century Theater’s concert staged reading of Call Me Mister [MP3 3:55 1.1MB].
Laura: And we were a part of history last night. We saw American Century Theater‘s concert staged reading of Call Me Mister performed in Arlington, Virginia.
Mike: Call Me Mister was written in 1946 by Harold Rome. It was a revue, revolving around the servicemen coming back from World War II and getting them reintegrated into American society. There were lots of challenges and lots of expectations that were met and were not met by the United States when they got back.
Laura: I really liked it. Call Me Mister was performed on Broadway in 1946. It ran for 700 odd performances and then a national tour. When that was over they threw away a lot of the songs and locked it up for 60 years. American Century Theatre decided to take on the project. They had to do some pretty intense homework and even rewrite some of the songs that were performed yesterday afternoon.
Mike: The production at the American Century Theatre was a staged reading. It wasn’t a full production. The original production had several ballet sequences which was fairly standard for the 1940′s. As well as several other songs that weren’t included in yesterday’s production because they really didn’t advance the basic plot of the show which was GI’s getting back into society.
Laura: There were 30 performers. They all did a great job. They said at the beginning that they had put this together with a minimum of rehearsal. I thought they sang together really well. I enjoyed all the voices and all the soloists.
Mike: There were also several sketches performed around the songs. Those were really well done. It was a reading, so everyone had their script in front of them, but it was obvious that they had not just showed up for work and been given a script. They did do some prep work and they did a great job.
Laura: One of the songs I enjoyed listening to was Surplus Blues. It was performed by a waitress who had enjoyed seeing the servicemen that had come through during the war, but now that the war is over she is kind of all by herself and is kind of upset by it.
Mike: Another number id Red Ball Express. It dealt with the racial discrimination that occurred in the United States after WWII. Soldiers that were treated as equals in the army or the armed forces were not treated the same way when they got out. At the end of the Red Ball Express, one of the men is not hired for a job because he’s Black. This show was one of the first Broadway shows to deal with racial discrimination in the show. After the reading yesterday, there was a talk back session with some of the cast and crew. There was a story told that when the national touring company was touring the United States. They checked into a hotel. They were all going up to the rehearsal floor and the elevator operator would not allow the Black singer to get on the elevator. He was told to take the freight elevator. So the entire troupe got off the elevator and went with him to the freight elevator.
Laura: Call Me Mister is closing this afternoon, they are doing one more performance. I do recommend you go see this show. It is playing at the Theatre on the Run in Arlington, Virginia.
Mike: If you are a part of a theater group in the area and are interested in performing a very difficult piece, you should consider doing Call Me Mister. Give the American Century Theater staff a call and they’ll be more than happy to talk with you about the show. I’m sure they will help you contact people with the rights to the show.
Laura: And now, on with the show.
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Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.