Patricia Fitzpatrick & Warren Schein: The USO Radio Show

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Patricia Fitzpatrick and Warren Schein

The USO Radio Show

Don’t Tell Mama, November 18, 2017

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Warren Schein, Patricia Fitzpatrick, Brian Patton (back)
Photo: Bob Bond

The USO Radio Show was conceived as “a tribute to the music of the World War II years” by Patricia Fitzpatrick and Warren Schein. The vehicle was a recreation of a 1941 radio broadcast raising money for the newly formed USO.

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So far, so good. Then things went awry. No one seemed to know if this was a recreation or a recollection, so things seemed to exist in several time periods at once. Jokes about being clairvoyant didn’t clarify anything.

Even choosing the year 1941 was problematic. Insistent mentions of “our boys overseas” were certainly premature since few Americans were stationed abroad until 1942. Various “stars” attended this “broadcast,” some of whom were indeed well-known at the time, while others, such as Mel Tormé and Rosemary Clooney, were teenagers barely known outside of their hometowns. Even the big names who are right for the period were wrong in performance – “Betty Grable” gave “Do It Again” an orgasmic delivery that the wholesome actress would never had done and would have gotten a radio broadcast shut down. Nor would a male vocalist brag about a ballad with “nongender-specific pronouns” (of course, he wouldn’t be singing a medley from 1944’s On the Town in 1941 either).

Setting aside all the chaos, there were some musical pleasures. Brian Patton provided steady , sensitive and period-appropriate musical accompaniment. Shein offered up a nice Mel Tormé-influenced Gershwin. An Ethel Merman interpreter (never introduced by her own name) belted a rousing “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” though “Something for the Boys” would have been more apropos. And John DeMarco as Dick Haymes delivered an appropriate “You’ll Never Know.”

This was promoted as the first in a series. Hopefully, the concept will be refined in the future.

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Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."