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Any Bonds Today?

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ANY BONDS TODAY? at the Arts Center in Oak Park. A good friend of mine, a songwriter, once told me the recipe for a hit show: Make it old. How else to explain the success of stodgy productions like Nunsense, with their creaky jokes and "original" songs that sound as if they were hits in 1944? When it comes to musical theater, the old farts are the ones filling most of the seats.

This must explain the popularity of this extremely unadventurous evening of songs from World War II, based on the premise that it's a USO revue "to show the boys our support." Any Bonds Today? enjoyed several successful runs in the early 90s at the Arts Center in Oak Park and is now being revived, I suppose, to cash in on the fact that no one else is doing a 40s nostalgia show right now.

If you have any interest in swing-era music, you've heard all the songs before. (The 13-piece "USO band" is really hot, though sadly the singing is uneven, ranging from pretty great to just OK.) You've seen all the moves of the jitterbugging "USO dancers" before (though probably not so awkwardly done). And the jokes the emcee tells between songs-- well, actually there is something charming about the careless, Bob Hope-like way Jim Hayes tosses off these old gags, then cringes a little when they don't get a laugh. And of course the show ends with a rousing chorus of "God Bless America." --Jack Helbig

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