Katie Whittemore, Alan Jone, and Viviene Reinerplay rehearse “Bells Are Ringing.”
The Elizabethtown Social Center’s community actors will bring to life the story of pre-cell phones and pre-answering machines for a comedic love story of “Bells Are Ringing,” opening April 18.
This show is set in 1956, at Susanswerphone, an answering service in Manhattan where a real person answered the telephone, if someone couldn't do it themselves.
Through the interactive job, leading character Ella Peterson played by Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School junior Katie Whittimore, an operator for Susanswerphone, finds it easy to get involved in the lives of the people who call her.
The audience will be taken for an adventure as they go with Ella, who plays matchmaker, portrays Santa Claus, suggests old-fashioned remedies to ailments, finds employment and even falls in love with a client via the phone before she meets him.
“I really think the audience will love Ella for how quirky, energetic, and helpful she is and how unafraid she is to be herself,” said Whittimore said.
The 34-member cast of ELCS students and community actors will deliver the audience back to the 1950s when men wore fedoras and woman wore white gloves and everyone needed to use a rotary telephone for their social media.
“I tried to keep the experience as an authentic 1950s style and how men and women went about on a day-to-day basis,” said play Director Susan Forney-Hughes.
For some of the students with touchscreen phones in their pockets, rotary telephone and typewriters were something new.
Whittimore said when they first started rehearsals everyone needed a crash course in 1950s technology.
“We all sort of enjoyed using the rotary phone and thought it was funny that you have to turn the numbers to make a call,” said Whittimore.
The audience will also get to see the dancing talents of the Social Center theater.
“There’s different varieties of dancing people are going to see. We do the tango, soft and mellow dances and the box step and other fast-paced dances,” said seventh grade cast member Emmalee Turner.
Forney-Hughes said she chose the play because it had always been a favorite of hers.
“I think it’s going to be a really fun show. People might not recognize the title, but I hope they take a chance and come out for an enjoyable evening,” Forney-Hughes said.
Add a healthy dose of some musical bookies and a couple of persistent policemen, and you have a recipe for some great shenanigans, Forney Hughes said.
Some favorite musical numbers featured in the play are; “Just in Time,” “The Party’s Over,” “I’m Goin’ Back,” “Better Than a Dream,” “Drop That Name” and “A Simple Little System.”
The show will open for a special preview on April 18, at 7 p.m. Adult admission is $5, and student admission is $3.
More performances will be held on April 19 and 20 at 7 p.m. An afternoon performance will be held on April 21 at 3 p.m. Adult tickets are $10, student tickets are $5, and a special family rate is $25.
“Bells Are Ringing” was nominated for a Tony for Best Musical in 1957. Judy Holliday won the Tony for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Ella Peterson and went on to star in the 1960 film adaptation, opposite Dean Martin.