This is an interview done by Joel Markowitz with Jack Marshall Artistic Director of American Century Theater along with Tom Fuller (Musical Director) and Joanne Schmoll (Actress) about their staged reading of Call Me Mister the next installment in their Rescue Series. The story of how this production came about and the Staged Reading process is the first installment in our Learning Series of podcasts. Future installments will consist of podcasts with known theatre personalities on ranging topics from Musicals to Shakespeare — Directing to Acting.
The next offering in the American Century Theater’s “Rescues” series is Call Me Mister (1946), an exuberant musical revue by Harold Rome (Fanny, Pins and Needles) with book by Arnold Auerbach. The show ran for 734 performances on Broadway. The title, Call Me Mister, comes from what WW II servicemen said when they took off their uniforms for good and re-entered civilian life.
Call Me Mister is a series of songs and sketches about the trials and tribulations of U.S. military personnel returning home from WW II and trying to adjust to civilian life. “The score has some of Harold Rome’s catchiest tunes, and the sketches and spoofs of military life are brilliant, even today,” said Tom Fuller, Musical Director. “There is also an open look at real-life issues such as those of returning African Americans who served in a segregated military returning to a segregated America.”
With the permission of Josh Rome, the composer’s son and artistic executor, TACT has reconstructed the script and score from original manuscript material in the Harold Rome Archive at Yale University. The “Rescues” series presents Equity staged readings of shows that are currently considered too large or technically demanding to produce. (Mr Marshall goes into great depth to explain how this works in our interview)
With a cast of 29, in alphabetical order: Caroline Ashbaugh, John Bailey, Beverly Benda, Michael Bigley, Chris Davenport, Tom Dillickrath, Emily Formica, Christy Frye, Alice Fuller, Lauren Furjanic, Christine Gahagan, Miriam Ganz, Kristen Garrafo, Caren Hearne, Kate Kirby, Doug Krentzlin, Tracy Krulik, Steve Lebens, Steve McWilliams, Don Neal, Jeff Peterson, Joanne Schmoll, Amy Sheff, Adrienne Showker, Lonny Smith, Nelson Smith, Harlie Sponaugle, Marge Tischer, and Glenn White. Alvin Smithson is the musical accompanist.
Call Me Mister will be performed at Theater on the Run, 3700 S. Four Mile Run, Arlington, Virginia, 22206. Shows are June 15-17 at 8 PM, and 2:30 matinees on June 17 & 18. All performances are free, but due to limited seating, reservations are required. Call 703-553-8782 or visit www.americancentury.org.
“I’m a civilian from now on, Plain civilian from now on; There’ll be nobody to shove me, No one below or above me, Joe Civilian from now on!”
The American Century Theater is dedicated to presenting great, important, and neglected plays of the Twentieth Century — what Henry Luce called “the American Century.” Their mission is based on the firm conviction that this theatrical repertoire — influential and critically acclaimed dramas, comedies, and teleplays first produced between 1920 and 1970 — portrays a uniquely American vision that is vital to our shared cultural heritage. In today’s increasingly Balkanized society, finding this common ground has become essential.
Their mission is also driven by the belief that theater should be accessible to all citizens. For the mainstream audience today, the combination of prohibitive cost and adult-only themes makes it increasingly difficult to find appropriate theater-going experiences for the entire family. This need not be the case, and that America’s finest dramas — written for a broad audience — contain significant themes and ideas that should be part of our collective wisdom as a nation.
The American Century Theater, a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, was founded in 1994 in Arlington, Virginia. It performs in Theatre Two, a “black box” theater at 2700 South Lang Street, Arlington, Virginia. Phone: 703-553-8782.