A crowd of almost 300 tapped toes and sang along during the star spangled show “All Hands on Deck!” at the Lea Ledger Auditorium on Saturday.
Proceeds from the patriotic musical will benefit Operation Stand Down Central Texas, which offers support services to homeless veterans and their families in Coryell, Bell and Lampasas counties.
Set in the 1940s, the USO-style show entertained the audience with more than 40 songs, dancing and comedy skits, accompanied by the Hollywood Victory Caravan Orchestra.
“It takes you to a time that we, as a nation, were working as one together,” said Joann Courtland, OSDCT director. “What OSDCT does could not be more patriotic, as well, taking care of our veterans. Having this show perform ties in with our mission, for sure.”
“All Hands on Deck!” featured two acts, with the four performers dressed in vintage 1940s clothes, military uniforms and hairstyles. The first act was modeled after World War II roadshows and war bond drives. Act two recreated a vintage radio broadcast for the troops, with radio commercials and jingles for products, cars and coffee.
Created by and co-starring Broadway veteran Jody Madaras, the show toured the country for years before settling in Branson, Missouri. It was the second year the show held a performance in Central Texas.
“I hope we can be with you for many, many years, so we can help get these veterans what they need,” Madaras said.
Mixed in with the singing and comedy, old Movietone newsreels projected on the screen, showing footage of Hollywood stars dancing with soldiers and on war bond tours.
Many in the audience, like Charles and Sheri Wilson, swayed in their seats to the rhythm of the music, enjoying every moment. “I love it because you don’t get to see a show like this anymore,” Sheri Wilson said.
The trip down memory lane was worth it, agreed Charles Wilson. “The tap dancing routines are almost a lost art.”
The grand finale paid tribute to each branch of the armed forces in song,topped off with “America the Beautiful” sung by the cast. The audience joined in, as well.
Robert Goldings, 76, was a boy during the 1940s, so he recalled a lot the songs performed in the show. “I’m impressed with the talent. It really brings back many good memories.”