Move over, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Dorothy Lamour is here, and she knows how to hold her own with two big personalities like you.
In the past few years, local theater producer Chuck Carson has found a successful formula with his series of "Bob & Bing" productions. Staged as re-creations of an old-fashioned NBC radio program, the shows feature Lynn Roberts as Bob Hope and Bob Pasch as Bing Crosby. Vintage commercials are part of the mix. Carson, who plays the onstage staff announcer, is joined by Hope and Crosby as the characters banter and sing together.
Recently Carson added another cast member: professional singer Cassie Miller, who plays Lamour. The movie star appeared with Hope and Crosby in the pair's famous "Road" movies. As the Los Angeles-based Miller prepared for "Bob & Bing — Road to Fresno," which plays Friday night at the Tower Theatre, we caught up with her for an email interview.
Question: How did you connect with Chuck Carson and his "Bob & Bing" franchise?
I was doing a "Harry James Tribute Show" at the Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga, and I saw a poster for an upcoming show featuring the boys and their "Road to Cucamonga" show. I thought to myself, "Well, they sure could use a Dorothy in their show!" and from there, I decided to contact them and eventually ended up meeting Chuck.
You play Dorothy Lamour in the show. Have you portrayed her before on stage?
No, I have never portrayed her, but I have been having fun watching all of the footage of her in the "Road" pictures and other clips on YouTube. She was lovely and I wish I could've known her.
What can you tell us about Lamour? Is there any modern-day movie star you would compare her to?
Hmmm. That's a tough question to answer. The first star that comes to my mind is Catherine Zeta-Jones. CZJ has a smoldering, mysterious quality about her that Dorothy had. Both are beautiful. Come to think of it, what am I thinking of trying to portray Dorothy? Yikes. Big shoes to fill!
What songs did you pick to sing in the show?
I chose "Moon of Manakoora" because I thought it was the epitome of who Dorothy was — the Sarong Girl. The song evokes such a strong picture of a young woman, waiting on an island for the man she loves. By the way, this song was in the soundtrack for the recent movie "Silver Linings Playbook." My jaw dropped when I heard it in the background! The others were chosen by "Bob" and "Bing" — I'm happy to do the songs they want me to do.
Most of us today didn't get the opportunity to listen to old-time radio shows. Do you ever wish they were still around? What did audiences get in a radio show that you don't get, say, in a TV special?
That's easy. In a word: imagination! I have always been drawn to the late 1930s and 1940s, and even though I know no era is perfect, to me the style and entertainment of that time has no match. Today's entertainment is … well, I can't say it in public. I can't say it in private.
If you had the chance to ask Dorothy Lamour one question, what would it be?
How did you do your hair and makeup?
Tell us about your performing career.
Oh my goodness. Well, let's just say it didn't turn out as I had planned! My plans started in kindergarten and I knew I was going to make records. However, that just hasn't happened. But I've had some wonderful experiences along the way. I've been a background singer for Perry Como and Andy Williams, and I've sung at Carnegie Hall with John Lithgow (he did a live performance of his children's CD, "The Remarkable Farkle McBride," which he co-wrote with Bill Elliott. Bill is an extremely talented musician/songwriter who had a band I was in for many years called the Bill Elliott Swing Orchestra. Bill is now doing musical arrangements and being nominated for Tony Awards for shows on Broadway).
Being from Anaheim, I also worked for the Mouse both in my hometown and in Tokyo, plus I did cruise ships and various recording dates in Los Angeles. One of the bands I spent most of my time with during the swing resurgence, during the late 1980s and 1990s, was called Red and the Red Hots. We played many nights at The Derby where the movie "Swingers" was filmed — what a time that was!
Besides all of that, I have also done a few TV commercials and print ads.
Whew. I'm exhausted just thinking about it all.
Anything else you'd like to say?
I LOVE to cook and I can bake a really good cherry pie.
"Bob & Bing — Road to Fresno," 7 p.m. Friday, Tower Theatre, 815 E. Olive Ave. towertheatrefresno.com, (559) 485-9050. $29-$49.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6373, email@example.com and @donaldbeearts on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.