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Radio legends from the 1940s and '50s honored
Performance of 'On the Air' pays tribute to Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Jack Benny and Jimmy Durante
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‘On the Air’

When: 3 and 8 p.m. Jan. 17

Where: Cumming Playhouse, 101 School St., Cumming

Cost: $20, or $15 for seniors 60 and older, students 18 and younger, veterans, and groups of 25 or more

More info: www.playhousecumming.com or 770-781-9178

Radio stars of the 1940s and early 1950s will be honored during an upcoming performance of “On the Air” at the Cumming Playhouse.

Comedic greats such as Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Jack Benny and Jimmy Durante will be remembered through the 90-minute production, which focuses on the “Bob Hope Road Show.”

The performance, which will be presented at 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, is staged as a 1940s NBC radio broadcast, complete with an on-stage staff announcer reading live commercials from the period, presenting recorded jingles of the era, and interacting with Bob Hope and his legendary radio and film star guests.

Writer, producer and director Chuck Carson also performs in it. He said “On the Air” provides plenty of family fun for all ages, even those too young to remember radio’s heyday.  

“The great thing about this show is that the comedy transcends all generations,” Carson said. “We find that the grandparents want to come because they actually remember the 1940s and early ’50s.

“Then their children will also come and bring the grandkids to teach them about a time when radio was king. They want their children to experience what it was like to use your imagination to see all the things happening in a radio show.”

While the show has two cast members — Carson and Lynn Roberts, who portray most of the radio legends featured in “On the Air” — Carson said audiences often feel they’ve seen a performance with a much larger cast.

“We always come out and visit with our audiences at the end of the show, and every time people ask, ‘Where is the actor who portrayed Jack Benny or the actor who portrayed Red Skelton?’” he said. “People think they’re seeing a cast of four or five when it’s actually just a cast of two. That’s because Lynn does such an incredible job of differentiating himself as all these different performers.”

“On the Air” has toured throughout 35 states since it was first produced in 2010. Carson said this will be the show’s first time in Georgia.

“We’re really happy that the Cumming Playhouse will be our first Georgia stage,” he said. “We think the intimacy of the venue will be a perfect fit.

“It will really harken back to the days of radio itself, when they recorded in front of audiences of about 200 people.”

Besides honoring some of radio’s greats, the show also pays tribute to U.S. veterans and active duty military personnel.

“That is important to us since it was a vital part of Bob Hope’s career,” Carson said. “He performed for troops serving in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, so we want to continue that tradition in our production.

“We hope many veterans and military personnel and their families will join us on Jan. 17.”

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