The ALL HANDS ON DECK! Show, Branson’s newest show, is a beautifully written and produced performance set in 1942. The “Hollywood Victory Caravan 1942” is a road show and radio broadcast reproduction, with singing and dancing reminiscent of those fabulous old song and dance movies. Before the curtain goes up, large video screens show Movietone News trailers. Remember those? A preview of the movie Casablanca. An Abbott & Costello commercial for defense bonds that is humorous yet poignant. Clips of rallies with stars like Greer Garson, Tyrone Power, Hedy Lamar, and Irene Dunn. President Roosevelt addressing the country. The scene is being set. The orchestra can be heard tuning up, and when the curtain rises, The All Hands on Deck! Show audience knows they are in for a very special show.
The song selection is outstanding – 42 of the most wonderful songs ever written. The four cast members have magnificent voices; the harmonies and arrangements are superb. The orchestra is comprised of nine of the finest musicians anywhere.
The costumes are “swell” – dresses and suits of the time period, from an argyle vest and bow tie, polka dot dresses, to the straight seams in the ladies’ stockings! The stage is draped with red, white, and blue bunting. The overhead banner reads “Hollywood Victory Caravan.” The Caravan is traveling to cities that pledge a million dollars for the war effort. There are wonderful songs like Chattanooga Choo Choo, Moonlight Bay, I’m in the Mood for Love, I’ve Heard That Song Before, Rosie The Riveter,We’ll Meet Again, On the Atchison, Topeka & the Santa Fe, Sentimental Journey and many more. How long since you’ve heard really good saxophone music or the lovely strains of a muted trumpet? Everyone in the audience loves remembering these tunes, perhaps wishing there were more like them today. Anyone hearing them for the first time will be captivated.
But then there’s a hitch. “Ted Crosley” receives a telegram that bad weather coming in means the group has to fly out early in order to get to Chicago for their scheduled radio broadcast. Will the Branson show be cut short? What about the broadcast? Well, stay tuned, because you are in for even more fun and more great tunes in the second half. A Maxwell House Coffee ad, “Did you get a bouquet with your coffee today?!” And, “You get more of everything you want with a Mercury!”
The All Hands on Deck! Show has been touring the country for three years, but they have brought their delightful and eloquent show to the Dutton Family Theater in Branson for extended schedules. (Select dates through December 7, 2016, and in 2017. Their schedule can be found at https://www.bransontourismcenter.com/shows/info/all-hands-on-deck)
Jody Madaras, “Ted Crosley,” wrote and produces the show; he also does the arrangements and choreography. Valerie Hill, “Betty Blake,” is co-producer. Beth Conley is “Daisy Maxell,” and Patrick Scholl is “John Handley.” These are four extraordinarily talented singers and entertainers. Their impressive credits include Broadway, musical theater, television … and a true passion for what they do.
Madaras says he wrote the show to say, “Thank you to the greatest generation – the men and women who served our country during WWII and The Korean Conflict – and also remind Americans of a time when our country was truly united.” He spent almost four years writing it, with “a heart filled with gratitude and patriotism.”
Some Christmas touches are added for the season (which starts early in Branson!). White Christmas, with video clips of Holiday Inn, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, the 1942 movie that made the song famous. A wartime photo of Santa Claus in a jeep with a Christmas tree, surrounded by soldiers. Of course, the cast recognizes Veterans in the audience with the songs of each branch of the military, including The Army Air Corps!
Waitin’ for the Train to Come In, Thanks for the Memory, There’s a Long Long Trail, America the Beautiful, Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree, I’ll Never Smile Again, clever and heartwarming songs. The ALL HANDS ON DECK! Show is fun, fast-paced, moving truly an enchanting step back in time.