When I got out of my seat at intermission, I realized that my cheeks were sore from grinning so hard.
The Chemainus Theatre Festival’s first show of the 2023 season, Naked Radio, is a hoot.
It’s a feel good, laugh-out-loud evening punctuated with just enough moments of pathos to ground the frothy fun.
The play tells the story of what happens at a small radio station, recently taken over by a large corporation that now runs almost exclusively off of a canned feed, when that feed is cut off and the show must go on, so to speak, as the community is hit by a blizzard.
Two DJs, one who’s considering leaving as he’s no longer able to do what he loves under the corporate hand of the new ownership, and one who’s literally there for his first shift, must fill all the airtime with the aid of a single, hilariously awful song featuring both yodelling and kazoos, quirky townspeople who call in, and the station’s manager.
With some creativity and help from the past, it all comes to a satisfying resolution, but only after a story with plenty of twists and turns that will leave you not knowing what is coming next.
Naked Radio is something of a musical, though not in any traditional sense. Aside from the aforementioned single surviving record, the show is packed with tunes in the form of little jingles for ad spots, the station’s theme song, intro music for the station’s programming, and even the impromptu delivery of weather updates as songs.
The cast is superb, and tiny. Michael Clarke plays Bart Dunwood, the veteran radio man who’s become disillusioned. Kaden Forsberg plays Mike Young, the fresh-out-of college new hire. And then there’s the incredible Naomi Costain who plays station manager Maggie Wheeling, and all of the townsfolk who fill out the show. Enough cannot be said about her quick changes and the distinct characters she creates.
These immensely talented performers not only portray the characters to perfection, but also sing and play a host of instruments. And their comedic timing deserves a special mention as they’ll have your sides splitting with everything from intentionally corny jokes to running jokes and their payoff. You will giggle, chuckle, laugh, groan and even guffaw.
Mark DuMez directed the show with music by Paul Libman and book and lyrics by Dave Hudson.
Naked Radio is a great antidote to the dark and cold winter days we’re still locked in, and a wonderful way to kick off the new Chemainus Theatre season as it rebuilds following COVID. You won’t want to miss it.
The show runs until April 2 and you can get tickets at chemainustheatre.ca.