Escape into a 1940s whirlwind of murder, mystery, and mischief played out by dubious detectives, glamorous starlets, stealthy spies, wisecrack reporters, and scatterbrained chorus girls in the live production of The Mysterious Wisterias.
Gracing the Stage Door Canteen at The National WWII Museum, this war era spectacle will open Friday, Oct. 3 and run through Sunday, Nov. 23. Leading this zany cast of eight is local favorite Ricky Graham, who is also co-writer and co-mastermind of this comedic thriller.
“We wanted the show to have the feel of a 1940s B-movie comedy/mystery — the kind of thing Bob Hope, or Abbot and Costello would have done,” Graham explains.
“These movies were made during wartime and were pure escapism for the American audience,” he says. “We wanted to capture that sense of silliness on the stage.”
Working alongside director and long-time pal Sean Patterson, Graham explains how it was a delight to write a drama so period and stylistically specific.
The Mysterious Wisterias, which refers to a supposedly haunted Louisiana plantation home called “The Wisterias,” offers audiences an intriguing, murderous plot filled with silly and outlandish excitement. While on a journey of discovery, showgoers are carried to a state of hilarity.
“Playing comedy for a New Orleans audience is an absolute joy!” Ricky Graham says, “They come in and want to laugh and have a good time. They’re always more than willing to meet you more than halfway.”
Excited to hit the stage this weekend, Graham anticipates the adrenaline rush, and the magical moments played out in front of a live audience.
“There’s nothing like sharing in the laughter that a live performance generates.” He says. “When you and the audience are both in agreement that what’s happening is funny, it’s the closest thing to heaven on earth that I can possibly imagine!”
Judging from Ricky Graham’s and Sean Patterson’s previous comical chemistry and reputation for staging a truly captivating performance, locals can be sure this production at The National WWII Museum will be a must-see.
“I hope the audience will get caught up in the stylish silliness — we’re all shameless hams and playing right out to them!” Graham says.
For showtimes and tickets, visit us here.
Seventy years ago, on 3 October 1942, the Hollywood Canteen opened its doors to servicemen at 1451 Cahuenga Blvd., on the site of a former livery stable. Using the model of the Stage Door Canteens, the Hollywood Canteen was an entertainment space free for all servicemen, staffed completely by volunteers. On opening night the Hollywood Canteen raised $10,000 by charging $100 for bleacher seats to watch as the stars paraded in. Founder Bette Davis recalled that it was so crowded on opening night that she had to climb through a window to get in. Before closing on Thanksgiving Day 1945, the Hollywood Canteen entertained nearly four million servicemen.
Letter from the Museum's collection from Hollywood Canteen founder and President Bette Davis to volunteer Bob Hope.
Visit the Stage Door Canteen at The National WWII Museum for live entertainment and to see the letter from Bette Davis and other artifacts related to the Hollywood Canteen.
Post by Curator Kimberly Guise.
On March 2, 1942 the New York Stage Door Canteen opened its doors in the basement of the 44thStreet Theater. Founded by the American Theatre Wing, the organization that hosts Broadway’s Tony Awards, Stage Door Canteen was open nightly from 6 p.m. to midnight. Admission was free to all servicemen, but a ticketed shift system was established to allow for the maximum number of visitors. Two thousand men filled the tiny 40-foot by 80-foot room each night. The Stage Door Canteen provided a space for millions of Allied servicemen to receive star-treatment―top-notch entertainment, dinner and dancing.
The New York Stage Door Canteen welcomed an average of 2,000 servicemen a night (500 per shift). No alcohol was permitted, but on an average night the Canteen served: 2000 sandwiches, 3000 slices of cake or doughnuts, 1000 half pints of milk, 80 gallons of fruit juice and cider, 25 lbs. of candy, 6 crates of fruit and a whopping 5,000 cigarettes.
During the first year it was estimated that hostesses at the New York Stage Door Canteen danced 2,184,000 miles.
New York’s Stage Door Canteen was followed by the opening of Stage Door Canteens in Boston, Newark, Philadelphia, Cleveland, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. The Hollywood Canteen opened as an American Theatre Wing affiliate on October 3, 1942. London and Paris received their own Stage Door Canteens as the war neared an end.
Visit the Stage Door Canteen at The National WWII Museum for live entertainment and also to see artifacts related to the Stage Door Canteens.