Dezart Performs, one of the Coachella Valley’s leading theatre companies, held their annual fund-raising event last week at the Camelot Theatres with their popular tribute to ‘Old Time Radio’ (OTR) called “On the Air”.
Prior to the main event on Thursday, March 17th, the company gathered for a relaxing, fun time sharing old theatre and show business stories with one another and the event sponsors, donors, the media, and friends and relatives of the celebrity performers at the Saguaro Hotel, Palm Springs.
The stage of the Camelot theatre on March 17th was turned into a faux radio station where broadcast re-creations of shows of the 1940’s and 50’s, complete with announcer Bob Hardt, sound effects artist Andrea McGuire, Dezart Trio Singers Francesca Amari, Darci Daniels, and Jaci Davis, who sang the jingles about the advertised products of actual sponsors of the event, took place. The singers were backed by the musical quartet The Quarter Notes, led by Barney McClure, Jeff Stover, Shelly Yoelin, and Jay Lewis.
Following radio announcer Bob Hardt’s intro to the audience the show got underway. Local celebrity Patrick Evans a popular TV weatherman and Host of the KCBS- TV show “Eye on the Desert”, gave the audience his version – this being radio – of his comedy skit written by Greg Oppenheimer called “Ear on the Desert”. His side kick on this sketch was Bob Bergen a very talented, voice artist/actor who broke up the audience with his “Porky Pig” voice impersonation as he answered Evan’s questions.
Gavin MacLeod and Millicent Martin performed as “The Bickersons” in a comedy episode entitle ‘John Fixes the Car’, written by Philip Rapp. Fans of OTR will remember Don Ameche and Frances Langford as the original radio stars.
Then “Richard Diamond, Private Detective” took us on the trail of ‘The Lynn Knight Case’ written by Blake Edwards, and starring Steven Brand as Diamond, with Ron Masak, Sal Mistretta, Phil Proctor, Devon Sorvari as Lynn Knight, Darci Daniels, Lee Meriwether, Bob Bergen, Gavin MacLeod, and Roger Perry.
The last radio episode was “My Favorite Husband” starring Roger Perry and Joyce Bulifant as George and Liz Cooper in a hilarious script by Jess Oppenheimer, Madelyn Pugh, and Bob Carroll, Jr. entitled “Mrs. Cooper Thinks Liz is Pregnant”. Solid support came from Millicent Martin, Melinda Peterson, Valorie Armstrong, and Gavin MacLeod.
The Dezart Trio singers: Francesca Amari, Darci Daniels, and Jaci Davis, entertained the audience with a fabulous rendition of the WW II classic song, “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree”. The beat almost had some audience members ready to join them on the stage, but after thinking about it at their age – wisely remained seated.
Before the show ended, an unannounced additional sketch was brought back by popular demand (it wasn’t listed in the program). Ron Masak and Phil Proctor reprised their hilarious comedy routine from last year of the famous Abbott & Costello classic ‘Who’s On First?’ It was a fitting end to a wonderful evening of comedy entertainment thanks to old time radio for those who still love listening to it.
For the celebrity performers who live here in the valley and were joined by celebrity performers from Los Angeles and elsewhere it was a labor of love. It was good seeing these professional actors haul out their retired makeup kits, dust off old comedy routines, flex their radio, movie, TV, and stage voice acting skills once more, and proceed to treat the audience of 500 attendees to an evening they won’t soon forget.
If you missed the event, you can still support Dezart Performs by becoming a season theatre subscriber or a donor. Contact Clark Duggar, Fund Raising Chairman at www.dezartperforms.org.