Since 1997, Roger Bean “has created ten new musicals that re-imagine the unique American experience through the creative use of established and lesser-known radio, photograph, and jukebox hits” for the Milwaukee Repertory Theater The word I take issue with here is “musicals.” Bean does not create “musicals” – in fact, he does not write music – he creates revues. In 2003, The Theater Barn presented his Route 66, a revue of songs about cars and highway travel in the USA and, while I enjoyed the production, I was decidedly underwhelmed by the format, which had no dialogue or character development at all.
In The Andrews Brothers there is a little of each, but the plot Bean has conjured up is so silly and underdeveloped that is really more of an annoyance than an asset.
Three brothers, working as USO stagehands during World War II (March, 1945, to be specific) because they couldn’t get in armed forces (classified 4F for near-sightedness, asthma, and flat feet respectively), manage to pass themselves off as back-up singers for a young pin-up queen named Peggy Jones (Lara Hayhurst) who is just starting out as a singer. She is on the same bill as The Andrews Sisters, and this performance on a small island somewhere in the Pacific is taking place on the last night before the servicemen stationed there ship out to the front lines. The Andrews Sisters are quarantined when LaVerne gets the Chicken Pox and the General orders the show canceled, but their trunk full of costumes and props have already arrived so guess who fills in for them? The three brothers, whose last name just happens to be Andrews and who first names are Max (Tom Garruto), Lawrence (Trey Compton), and Patrick (Ryan Halsaver). (The Andrews Sisters were Maxene, LaVerne, and Patty.) Oy!