“THE SIGNAL” CAST with show creator in center, Henry Farag.
In 1956, while living in Gary, Indiana, Henry Farag received a small Crystal transistor radio as a Christmas present when he was 11-years-old. Farag would sneak off to find a quiet corner of his house, away from his 10 siblings and he would tune into the local radio station. The DJ of the times was Vivian Carter, and via that radio signal, she introduced Farag to some incredible R&B music. That music planted the seeds of what would develop into a storied career in the music industry for Farag.
“The Signal: A Doo Wop Rhapsody” recounts the story of Farag’s experiences growing up amidst this exciting musical chapter in the history of Gary, Ind. The live jukebox musical presents 21 popular Doo Wop hits intertwined with recreations of radio broadcasts that will transport the audience back to the romantic times of the 1950s. “The Signal” will be presented at the Theatre at the Center in Munster for three performances: 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17.
“The Signal” is a culturally diverse musical that features a cappella groups Stormy Weather and The Spaniels, along with Grammy-award winner Willie Rogers performing Doo Wop favorites from the 1950s and 1960s. Many of the performers represented were discovered singing under the street-lamps in Gary, not far from Far-ag’s childhood home. Street corner groups were part of the fabric of the neighborhood back in those days. Popular songs that are feat-ured in the show include “My Girl,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Goodnite Sweetheart Goodnite,” and “When I Saw Her Standing There.”
“It was very much like Gary, Indiana’s version of Jersey Boys. These amazing artists were performing a few blocks from my house making some incredible music on the street corner. And Vivian would find them and bring them to the radio audiences,” said Henry Farag, the show’s writer and director.
Farag grew up to become a musician, a music producer and the owner of a music publishing company. He also founded his own record label Street Gold Records. Farag started the Doo Wop group Stormy Weather in 1974, a group that has performed across the country including a special appearance at the White House. The group continues to perform after more than forty years on the scene.
Vivian Carter was also just getting started in her career in the 1950s. While continuing to DJ, she opened a record store in Gary. She and her husband James C. Bracken also started a record label called Vee-Jay Records. Vee-Jay released records by The Spaniels, The Eldorados, The Dells, and Blues legend John Lee Hooker. One of their biggest hits was by The Four Seasons, the first white act featured on the label. Vee-Jay was also the label that originally introduced the Beatles to American audiences with “Please, Please, Me” and “Ask Me Why” released on 45 in 1963 – one year before the Ed Sullivan Show appearance. Carter passed away in 1989 leaving behind a great musical legacy.
Individual ticket prices for “The Signal” are $30. Student tickets are $20. To purchase individual tickets call the Box Office at 219.836.3255. Group discounts are available for groups of 11 or more.
For more information on Theatre at the Center, visit TheatreAtTheCenter.com. Theatre at the Center is located at 1040 Ridge Road in Munster, IN. 46321.
The Signal: A Doo Wop Rhapsody
A cappella groups Stormy Weather and The Spaniels, along with Grammy-award winner Willie Rogers present music reminiscent of radio, steel mills, gangs, family and most importantly Gary’s Vee-Jay Records. The Black-owned label landmarked the Blues, pioneered R&B, triggered the Four Seasons, introduced The Beatles to America, was the role model to Motown and heavily influenced Gary’s own musical ambassadors The Jacksons, including Michael.