Music by Paul Libman
Book & Lyrics by
Two DJs. One Blizzard. No Records.
3 actors. 15 characters. No dead air!
When a small radio station gets swallowed up by a corporate parent, the local DJs are relegated to obscurity. But when a snowstorm knocks out the county and the station loses its tie to the pre-programmed feed, the guys have to punt, and a rejuvenated station brings back spontaneity and joy to the community it serves.
Show Length = 2 hours, 8 minutes plus one 15-minute intermission
From the writers who brought you Cheeseheads, the Musical, Muskie Love, and No Bones About It. Dave Hudson and Paul Libman are thrilled that this fan favorite is returning to Northern Sky in the new indoor space.
Libman’s prolific career composing for advertisers has left him with an exceptional skill for writing jingles, which fill the score with catchy, memorable, and often hilarious songs.
The name (Naked Radio), according to Hudson, has a double meaning. The first is the radio station itself is laid bare in the storm without the insulation of the corporate broadcasts. The other meaning suggests things get a bit unhinged in the station, though Hudson reassures us the play will be fit for Northern Sky’s usual audience. “Well hey, we’re on the radio, you can’t see us.”
Produced in 2017 & 2021
ABOUT THE WRITERS
PAUL LIBMAN (Composer)
Musical theatre is Paul Libman’s destination on a journey that began with playing jazz piano, composing for television and radio commercials and producing records. After winning the Richard Rodgers Award twice for two different musicals with collaborator Dave Hudson, Paul relocated to New York, where he currently is a member of the Lehman Engel BMI Advanced Musical Theatre Workshop. He is also the creator, arranger and producer of the hit comedy CD, Oy to the World! A Klezmer Christmas. Now, having had eight successfully produced musicals, he continues to write with Dave Hudson and others. This year, Paul is especially excited about his and Dave’s new Northern Sky musical, Naked Radio. www.oytotheworld.com
DAVE HUDSON (Playwright–Lyricist)
Dave Hudson is a lyricist and bookwriter who was born and raised in the West, but now lives in Chicago. In partnership with the Actors Garden, he has written seven musicals for the youth market ranging from Ancient Egypt (Tut, Tut), to the Middle Ages (Good Knight), to a modern sequel to Peter Pan. He is proud and a little bit amazed that Naked Radio marks his eighth musical for Northern Sky (his seventh with Paul Libman). He and Paul are two time winners of the Richard Rodgers Award and the ASCAP Award. Dave is the proud father of three amazingly creative kids, Connor, Garen, and Paige. He specifically dedicates Naked Radio to his amazing wife, Gigi, who has shown him such amazing support and belief through his own ‘silver box’ moments.
DOOR COUNTY SHOW WAXES NOSTALGIC
WARREN GERDS, CRITIC-AT-LARGE – SEPTEMBER 6, 2017
A powerful snowstorm grips “the county.” The inhabitants are in lockdown mode. Slowly by slowly, they lose connections to the Internet, cell phones and TV. What’s left is the local radio station, of late a corporate jobbie that only plays music that’s like a long line of taste-weak cans of fruit on a grocery shelf. And so the musical comedy “Naked Radio” drifts into beginning a story. Eventually, a personality emerges and the show takes a character that can only be – in the wide picture of things theatrical – Northern Sky Theater.
Northern Sky Theater in summer puts on a series of original musical comedies outdoors at Peninsula State Park Amphitheater. “Naked Radio” is the 2017 fall presentation – a world premiere – for the professional company, with performances in Door Community Auditorium for a long run, to Oct. 21.
“Naked Radio” embraces the way we were, or the way things kinda/sorta were in a heyday in radio when stations touched listeners’ lives as a matter of course. In the story of this show, the touching comes from desperation. A couple of station minions are trapped in the station by the storm, and they find that people need them as a kind of lifeline.
I like the way creators Dave Hudson and Paul Libman tap into what has happened at fictional, small-town radio station WHLO as technologies changed. In came the new, and out went the old – so much so that there no longer are a human’s playlist, the one-time essential record discs or much person-to-person with real, live folks “out there.”
Everything changes when one of the minions whacks the “soulless, sterile silver box” – the interconnect with the Big Channel Network somewhere in the great beyond – and the station can only broadcast with what’s at hand:
+ The minion, Bart Dunwood (Doug Forrest), and the station newbie/minion, Mike Young (Chase Stoeger).
+ One record – all that Mike could find in the building – that has “The Tennessee Waltz” on one side and “Possum Trot” on the other. Bart and Mike play “Possum Trot” over and over… and over… as their standby to kill time. (Side notes: Being that Northern Sky Theater writers write original material, Hudson and Libman do not use the popular “The Tennessee Waltz” in the show but their made-up and corny “Possum Trot.” By the way, the co-writer of the lovely/sad “The Tennessee Waltz,” Pee Wee King, spent much of his youth in the Abrams area and is one of our own).
+ The folks “out there.” The entourage includes Agnes Blankenship “from the county,” who loves bringing everybody up to speed with the latest road closings, a grumpy advertiser, Bart’s lady friend, helpful Bob, a lovelorn space cadet/Dr. Who groupie, a snotty kid who tells they guys on the air they are stupid and then hangs up, a Big Channel boss and other local types found around Middletown, a place in “Somewhere USA” that seems an awful lot like Door County. All those folks are played by Molly Rhode in an acting tour de force. Rhode changes character – voice, demeanor, aura, temperament, essence – with each simple change of costume, primarily keyed to a character’s identifying knit hat.
+ Imagination. It so happens that the minions are musicians as part of their character’s previous life. Sometimes Bart and Mike play song songs, but most often they come up with ad jingles they have made up on the spur of the moment (in the story). This is a lot of lightly tripping, catchy music with little hooks. Bart and Mike dream up gimmicks to fill air time – like a bit for listeners to sell/buy stuff (a true throwback to a real deal), a section on love advice, a recap of “Dr. Who” episodes and a major seed, a gambit about the show’s title. Bart and Mike place in listeners’ minds an image of them broadcasting in the altogether. This eventually leads to a strip for the benefit (not really) of the audience, with Bart and Mike getting down to their skivvies.
Soooo… what is “Naked Radio”? It’s part warm remembrance and part regret about the vast disconnect that technology and simplification and instant gratification have brought – but mostly a clever, if soft-paced, offering of entertainment.
Impressive parts include:
++ Molly Rhode’s multiplicity of characters, which has the signs of director Jeff Herbst’s careful hand of collaborative development.
++ Chase Stoeger’s multiplicity of cornball instruments he toots, dings, whizzes, ta-ta-tumps, pops and… Best Plastic Saxophone Performance of the Year: Chase Stoeger.
++ Doug Forrest, a musician first, arrives in the acting realm as Bart becomes a comforting gentle giant as an advisor on life.
The set is split in half. To the audience’s right is the radio station studio – microphones, electronic consoles, sound-softening padding on the wall; when Bart bops the corporate logo, the interconnection is revealed like the guts of a robotic patient spread out against the wall. To the audience’s left is the domain of Molly Rhode’s entourage that includes a variety of telephone types, knit hats, such items as a Green Bay Packers helmet and a Door County map, costuming that include a fur-fringed down coat and a kitschy scarf and the bass she plays as accompaniment and… Best Performance of the Year on an Omnichord (electronic instrument played by touch) to the “Ballad of Dr. Who”: Molly Rhode.
On sale in the lobby in association with this show are discs that say “To It” – so you can get a round to it – and Hostess Twinkies – in case a comic, admiring bit in the story stirs your taste buds. My tie-in: In the overall, “Naked Radio” has flavor to it.
Personal flashback: It’s last century just after a Green Bay radio operation has automated one of its stations. Being that the media is one of my beats for the newspaper, I telephone the manager in hopes of finding out background to inform readers about this new thing in the industry. The manager balks and says there is nothing he wants to be quoted on. But I will now. He says, “Nobody wants to talk about their drunk aunt in the back bedroom.”
THE VENUE: The 725-seat Door Community Auditorium features wood elements (for acoustics) surrounding its focal 60 by 24-foot proscenium (straight-front) stage. The auditorium opened in 1991. It serves the Gibraltar School District and hosts professional performances such as the respected Peninsula Music Festival, many of the nation’s top-shelf artists and Northern Sky Theater fall musicals. In the auditorium design, the architects chose to emphasize open space, exposed steel beams and simplicity of shapes. For orchestra concerts, the stage is lined with wood; panels are squares within larger squares. The roof interior is exposed wood, an acoustical touch. Balcony and box-seat areas are faced with plaster surfaces of a red hue, and the aura is like that of decks on a passenger ship, only inside. The hall’s seats are padded with wood backs. The lobby features two murals that represent the spirit of the peninsula, “Door County/The Water” and “Door County/The Land.”
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch for my on-air Critic at Large editions on WFRV-TV at 6:20 a.m. Sundays.
FISH CREEK: COLUMNIST VIEWS NAKED RADIO
I loved Naked Radio. The new actor, Doug Forrest, and veteran, Chase Stoeger, made very believable and funny disc jockeys. The play left me with a warm, giggly feeling that an evening of good acting and humor does. The disc jockeys, one older and mellow, and the eager young one with so much enthusiasm were both so creative and resourceful when faced with many hours of dead air.
The play got funnier and funnier as they went along, and I chuckled when they served Twinkies at intermission — you have to see the musical to get this reference. There were so many songs and they were great.
Contact Mary Anderson at email@example.com, 920-868-3172, or 8592 State 42, Fish Creek, WI 54212
OVERHEARD AND SHOUT OUTS: SEPT. 8, 2017
DOOR COUNTY PULSE, PENINSULA PULSE
A round of applause to the playwright, lyricist and actors of Northern Sky Theater’s fall premiere Naked Radio! A special shout-out to Molly Rhode for her acting prowess in expertly crafting more than a dozen different characters. Well done!