The Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center opened the new year with a Christmas reprise. The company presented a Holiday themed Archie Andrews comedy in the style of an old-time radio show.
Dragonfly became the latest community theatre company to revisit this classic art form. On January 13th, they gave it a twenty first century makeover. Instead of tuning in on their dials, audience members logged on to Zoom and Facebook.
Archie (played by Nathaniel Tomb) planned to visit Veronica (Shauni Ramai) at 3:00 PM. She informed his dad, Fred (Arthur Gregory Pugh) that she needed to postpone their get together for an hour. She secretly wanted to go to Stacy’s Department Store to buy him a Christmas present. Upon discovering he had some free time, Archie decided to go Christmas shopping for her. He and Jughead (Tom Scudmore) also went to Stacy’s.
Fred realized that he still needed to purchase a gift for his wife Mary (Susan Roberts). He too went to the department store. Mary and Betty (Anna Paone) headed there to do some shopping of their own. Comic situations and misunderstandings followed. Each character attempted to avoid the character for whom they shopped. They also coped with the officious Floorwalker’s (Laura Paone) harassment.
The show included outstanding production for an internet performance. Excellent sound effects occurred throughout the show. They included a phone ringing and even the noise of Archie bumping into a mannequin. A musical score opened and closed the program.
To enhance the authenticity, the company performed an old-time commercial during the program. In addition to reading the stage directions, an enthusiastic Catherine LaMoreaux plugged Swift’s Premium Franks by praising their “dinner quality meats.”
The slang written into the script helped to transport audience members back to the Riverdale of the 1940s. Nathaniel Tomb’s high pitched “gee whiz” and Anna Paone’s “golly that Jughead” captured the essence of both.
The performers used outstanding voices for their characters. Shauni Ramai articulated a southern belle voice for Veronica. Tom Scudmore delivered a machine gun barrage of the word ha as Jughead.
Following her performance as Julia in Dragonfly’s rendition of The Room, Laura Paone showed herself just as adept at playing characters who exist in reality. As the Floorwalker, Ms. Paone became the perfect straight person for the comedic confrontations.
Her obnoxious tone and serious expression contrasted well opposite Nathaniel Tomb’s slow-witted Archie. When she accused him of stealing the jacket he wore into the store, he said that he’d pay for it then turn in the sales receipt to get his money back. Mr. Tomb delivered an awesome monolog of Archie’s realization that he then wouldn’t have a jacket.
Laura Paone’s theft allegation against Mr. Pugh’s character led to another comedic outcome. He’d placed a bottle of perfume in his jacket to hide it when he saw his wife. He explained this to Ms. Paone’s character. When the Floorwalker didn’t see her, she suggested that he suffered from delusions. Ms. Paone inquired if he, “sees spots before his eyes.”
The comedy kept coming. While Susan Roberts’ character tried on a bathrobe, Anna Paone placed her dress and jacket on an empty rack. A store attendant (Matt Holbert) removed it without her noticing. Lacking anything else to wear, Ms. Roberts’ character walked around the store wearing just the robe. Once again, the Floorwalker accused a character of shoplifting. Ms. Roberts’ emotional explanation enhanced the humor.
Even though performing a show intended for radio, Dragonfly didn’t black out the screen. A good artistic choice as it allowed the audience to experience the stellar facial expressions of Shauni Ramai, Nathaniel Tomb and Anna Paone.
Even in an era defined by smart phones, the internet and remote meetings, classic radio still endures. The Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center paid a worthy tribute to an enduring art form.
Those who missed the original broadcast can watch the replay on their Facebook page.