Retired profession brings passion to ‘1940s Radio Hour’

Marissa Martin

One musician’s passion for music and teaching others will be displayed on stage at the second production of this semester, “1940’s Radio Hour.”  

Michael Braz, Black Box Theatre music director and professor emeritus of the music department, worked for Georgia Southern University for 24 years. He will play the piano during the 90 minute theatrical performance with the students he taught singing and instrument lessons.

“Now that I’m ‘retired’ I get to do a lot of things I want to do, like working with musicals,” Braz said.

“Michael is one of the treasures to our community, the first month he really worked through the music for this,” Lisa Abbott, assistant professor of theatre and director of “1940’s Radio Hour,” said.

“1940’s Radio Hour” will open tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. and will run until Nov. 14. “1940’s Radio Hour,” a production originally written by Walton Jones, will incorporate the audience into the radio station theme experience by allowing them to act as if they are in a live studio broadcast.

The performers act out a scene of a live radio broadcast in the Hotel Aster’s Algonquin Room on Dec. 21, 1942, Abbott said.

“The audience gets to be a part of the performance, like in a live radio broadcast,” Abbott said.

In addition to the piano, drums, saxophone, bass and the trumpet will be played on stage, Abbott said.

“This performance is technically not a musical but a play with music. In this they are actually doing a variety show. It’s kind of like going to a concert except there is a story behind it,” Abbott said.

Wartime pop music like “Strike Up the Band” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” will be performed during the play, Abbott said.

“Songs like this were used as a morale booster during World War II, and a lot of the songs are about having someone far away,” Abbott said. “Most of the pop songs during this time were about the war time efforts.”

The set of the stage resembles what a radio station actually looked like during those times, Abbott said.

Abbott said, “It’s not a high profile radio station, and we tried to be as accurate as possible to what the real thing looked like.”