By Manning Harris
fmanningh@gmail.com

The Stage Door Players are celebrating their 40th Anniversary Season, and we offer our heartiest congratulations.  The theatre is just up the road from Atlanta in Dunwoody.

Their current offering is “The Andrews Brothers,” described as “a madcap musical salute to the swinging 40’s,” as well as a valentine to the heroes of World War II.  The setting is a small island in the South Pacific, March 1945.  The show is running through Oct. 20.

Of course you’ve heard of the Andrews Sisters (Patty, LaVerne, and Maxene), who sold millions of records and famously entertained the troops at USO shows all over the world.

In “The Andrews Brothers,” created and written by Roger Bean, it seems that the famous sisters are a no-show (they’ve been temporarily quarantined) for a big USO show on the island.  Peggy, a professional entertainer and pin-up girl (Galen Crawley) is ready to rehearse with three stagehands.  They are Lawrence (Christopher Lewis), Max (Jeremy Varner), and Patrick (Tucker Weinmann); nobody knows at first that the famous sisters cannot make it.

But they all agree that the show must go on; the huge audience of servicemen is expecting entertainment.  They’re expecting the Andrews sisters.  What to do?  Hmm, the audience will be some distance from the stage; what if the guys…?  I’ll let you use your imagination.

This leads us to the music—those wonderful songs the sisters made famous, such as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “Slow Boat to China,” “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” “Hold Tight, Hold Tight,” “Ac-Cent Tchu-Ate the Positive,” and many others.  Musical director Seth Davis does a fine job coordinating, conducting, and playing keyboard.  I think it could be fun and interesting visually to bring the band out front and to the side, rather than behind the stage.  Just a thought.

The likable cast looks as if they’re having a really good time.  They act, sing, and dance up a storm (director and choreographer Dustin Lewis).  And it’s fun that all the guys seem quite smitten with Peggy (Ms. Crawley), especially the stuttering Patrick, whose affection she returns.

That brings us to Galen Crawley, whose eyes always seem to be smiling.  This young woman carries her own spotlight, as it were.  She has a terrific singing voice:  She can belt, croon, purr and draws us in, whatever the musical moment happens to be.  As a matter of fact, just standing still, she’s an exclamation point; that’s called charisma.  It’s no accident that she has starred in three terrific shows this year:  Actor’s Express’ “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”; Atlanta Lyric’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”; and Serenbe Playhouse’s riveting “Hair.”  I happen to think she could give TV’s Lea Michele a run for her money in Ms. Michele’s obsession to play Fanny Brice in the Broadway revival of “Funny Girl,” if it ever happens.

Make no mistake:  The gentlemen here, Mssrs. Lewis, Varner, and Weinmann are charming, funny, and in fine voice.  The four-person cast works hard for the money, as Ms. Summer used to say, and they will show you a good time—as well as pay a lovely homage to the Andrews Sisters.

For more information, visit stagedoorplayers.net.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.