BY GRACE FITZGERALD '20
On March 5, the Mount Holyoke Jazz Ensembles performed the annual Big Broadcast in Chapin Auditorium. The live radio broadcast included musical numbers as well as an original serial-style drama. “Basically, it’s a 1940s radio show that we’re re-creating,” said Juhi Shah ’20. “This is the twelfth annual Big Broadcast.”
According to the program, local 22News storm team meteorologist Brian Lapis wrote the serial’s screenplay with the help of Mount Holyoke students. The drama, titled “My Name is... Sterling,” was a silly and suspenseful detective mystery centered around a murder and insurance fraud. The short skit occurred at the opening of the second half of the show and included sound effects by Mount Holyoke music lecturer Cheryl Cobb. Sophia Cote ’20 was particularly impressed by the sound effects. “The music was absolutely amazing, of course, and the foley artist was super cool,” she said.
Lapis also emceed as Fred Kelley, a smooth-talking radio host who introduced each act and fit in as many commercial breaks as he could along the way. According to the program, this performance was Lapis’ 10th year in the Big Broadcast. Executive producer Mark Gionfriddo played Matt Morgan, piano prodigy and conductor of The Fred Kelley Show. Gionfriddo, who directs the Mount Holyoke Jazz Ensemble and serves as an accompanist for the music department, produced the show along with Bebe Drucker ’18, Raychelle Dunn ’17, Michaela Glover ’17 and Meredith Marshall ’17.
Painstaking efforts were made to ensure period accuracy, from perfectly pinned victory rolls to exact scripts transcribed from 1940s radio jingles. Fun touches were added throughout the show’s program, such as the note to kindly applaud for “the future broadcast to our troops stationed around the world!” and Kelley and Morgan’s fictional biographies. Cote appreciated Mount Holyoke’s subtle nods to women in the armed forces. “There was a advertisement for a Chapstick, I think, and they said it was the perfect gift to send to the men and women overseas,” she said.
The crowd seemed delighted by the word-for-word recreations of classic music and radio jingles. A rendition of the 1932 love ballad “I’ve Got the World On a String” by vocalist Emmy Wrobleski ’19 was particularly heart-warming.
“I really enjoyed the show! I thought it was great the way the show even incorporated old radio commercials throughout the program,” said Kalyani Kannan ’17. “It was my first time attending, and now I wish I’d gone every year.”