Desert Foothills Theater revives iconic children’s show - East Valley Tribune: West Valley

Desert Foothills Theater revives iconic children’s show

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Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2012 8:00 am

Ben Tyler worked on the local children’s television series, “The Wallace & Ladmo Show” as a writer and performer.

This inspired the Arizona native to write an original play about the show, which opens Friday at Desert Foothills Theater in Cave Creek.

In addition, Tyler also directs the play and expects for many people, particularly native Arizonans to have many memories after seeing the production.

“It’s not just a nostalgia piece; it focuses on a bigger question — how do we measure success in our lives?” he said.

Tyler’s play “The Wallace & Ladmo Show” focuses on the TV show’s 1964 mock-rock band Hub Kapp and The Wheels, which began as a joke band and quickly became an overnight sensation — even appearing on the Steve Allen Show.

Locally, their sales skyrocketed and they were beating out The Beatles on the charts. Hollywood record producers wooed them with large contracts, glitz and glamour.

However, they chose to continue with “The Wallace and Ladmo Show.”

Even though it was a children’s show, Tyler said “Wallace & Ladmo” appealed to both children and adults.

“I remember when I was kid watching with my mom before I got involved with the show,” said Tyler. “She would chuckle sometimes because things slid over my head and she got it.”

“Wallace & Ladmo” starred Bill Thompson as Wallace, Ladimir Kwiatkowski as Ladmo and Pat McMahon as Gerald.

When he was in third grade, Tyler won a chance to go on the TV show. Years later, when he was in his mid-20s, he landed a job as a writer for the show.

“So many people loved this show, and it will always be a part of their childhood,” he said.

Desert Foothills Theater Managing Director Meribeth Reeves said they’re collaborating with Actor’s Theatre and the Arizona Centennial Foundation on the production, which will also play in downtown Phoenix.

“I’m an Arizona native, and there is a fondness there for the TV show,” Reeves said.

In 1999, Tyler first premiered the play at Desert Foothills when he served as managing director. He’s proud to remount his original work again.

Local actress Cathy Dresbach appeared on the television series and is in the cast of the play. The grandon of Lowery will portray his grandfather.

“I think this show gives people a flavor of Arizona history, especially since this year is the centennial and this show really contributed to the state,” Tyler said.

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