By Jack Lyons Theatre and Film Critic. Member of American Theatre Critics Association

The art form known as Radio was the only communication method of entertaining America in the late 1920’s, up to and including the invention of television.  The medium allowed one to be entertained without ever leaving the home.  Radio had the ability to reach most of the nation from East coast to West coast, and the country’s vast rural population at the same time. One didn’t have to be attending a theatre performance to enjoy the stories of radio. It was the medium of the mind, and it was free!

Radio soap operas were the companions of millions of women and stay-at-homes that allowed them to endure the boredom and ennui of daily living In the 30’s and 40’s.   Women stayed at home.  Men went to work.  Radio programs were sponsored by detergent manufacturers; hence the term “soaps”.  Programming mysteries, comedies, westerns, and adventure shows took the listener to the far corners of the world.  It was a fabulous entertainment era.

Local Palm Springs award-winning writer/director/playwright Tony Padilla has written a fun-filled paean to the plight of all radio actors with his new comedy play “The Thespian Radio Hour”.   It’s set in a Chicago radio studio in the mid 1940’s.   Then, as now, writers, producers, directors, and actors rely on sponsors to pay their salaries and productions costs.  And that truism hasn’t changed since Shakespeare’s time.

Padilla has cast his hilarious comedy/farce production with a group of actors who know how to perform the genre. The story revolves around harried producer Agnes Cohen and her search for a show sponsor is played by Linda Cooke.  The show’s ambitious young director Steve Randy is played by Nick Wass.  The three radio actors in the story are Bonnie Gilgallon, Kelly Moody, and Larry Dyekman. and Hal O’Connell, as Waldo Burns the sponsor everyone ‘auditions’ for in their quest to get him to sign on the dotted line of a renewal contract for the acting company.

Wonderfully wacky and hilarious performances come from multi-talented Bonnie Gilgallon as Show Biz Diva Ellen Haze. Gilgallon is a local TV and Radio celebrity and Singer who currently hosts her weekly TV show “Women. She also hosted her own radio show, the popular Coachella Valley radio show “The Desert Scene”, for six years on KNEWS; 1140 AM in Palm Springs, in the 2000’s.

Kelley Moody as Lilly Darling is an award-winning actor and Emmy nominated TV personality who brightens your day as CBS Local 2 News’ weather anchor for the valley when she’s not performing in a local theatre production.

Larry Dyekman has appeared in regional theatres throughout the country. Since settling in Palm Springs, he’s been seen in several Desert Theatre League award-winning shows. More recently he played the Preacher in “Southern Baptist Sissies”, at the Desert Rose Playhouse and was featured in two productions at the Palm Canyon Theatre: “Deathtrap” and “The Bad Seed”.

Hal O’Connell’s portrayal of Waldo Burns, the Heavenly Bra Company salesman and object of all of the radio actors in making sure he arranges for the all-important contract renewal, is little comedy gem among a cast full of comedy gem portrayals.

Desert Ensemble Theatre Company (DETC) production of “The Thespian Radio Hour” performs at the Pearl Mc Manus Theatre in downtown Palm Springs on March 16,17, 18.  For tickets call 760-565-2476.