No business like show business

The 1955 Varsity Show enthralled audiences and launched stage careers for a number of its performers

CPS Dancers in 1955 Varsity Show

CHORUS LINE  The show kicked off, literally, with the CPS Dancers: Nancy Quigley Costello '58, Roberta Elson Greer '58, Peggy Smith Jennings '58, Joanne Storer Flynn '58, Lois Cameron Cooper '60, Kathy Bartell Terhune '58, Karen Croteau Clinton '58, Maureen Prawitz Eliason '58, Sandra Webber Olsen '58, Jeanne Bulatao Odo '58.

By Dale Bailey '56

Since I graduated from the College of Puget Sound I have seen scores of fine performing artists. I’ve been so close to Roger Whitaker and Richard Harris and Neil Diamond in live performances that they spit on me. I spent a wonderful night with Ed Sullivan in Alaska when he was doing his Christmas variety show in 1959 (I was in the USAF then, watching radar for Russian airplanes). I once spent an afternoon with the great conductor Fred Waring when he visited Tacoma. I was there in the ’70s when Broadway producer Ken Marsolais ’58 brought Shadow Box to Seattle, a play for which he and his colleagues won a Toni Award and a Pulitzer Prize. I watched Rusty Barber ’57 each Sunday on NBC television as he made religions come alive, and I’ve always been a fan of my Sigma Nu brother Jeff Smith ’66, now known as The Frugal Gourmet. But none of that ever compared to the high we all experienced for a few nights in November nearly 50 years ago when I was MC for “No Business Like Show Business’ in the Jones Hall auditorium.

The show was divided into four acts celebrating the progression of show business up to that time: vaudeville, silent movies, radio, and television. The script followed the careers of eight people, as they struggled along the road to stardom.

Dr. Thompson and teacher Martha Pearl Jones in 1955 Varsity Show

As good as broadway
It was no surprise that Dr. T would play-act a scene with head of the drama department Martha Pearl Jones. “Teach” Jones gave her all for the drama and speech students and made us feel we really could open on Broadway if we wanted to. Note that their cup is from Frisco Freeze.

The Great Caruso

The remarkable thing about Ed Coy ’56 playing Enrico Caruso in the vaudeville segment (OK, so Caruso was hardly a vaudeville player, but we took a little license) was the illusion that Ed was only mouthing the words to a recording. In fact, when the stage hand placed the phonograph needle down on the record it wasn’t Caruso hitting the high notes on “Vesti la Giubba” from I Pagliaccio, it was Ed who was doing the singing.

Dale Bailey '56 & Millicent Bulatao Wellington '56

That’s me, discussing a feature song with Millicent Bulatao Wellington ’56 (second from left). Millie was Homecoming queen in 1954.

Doug Evans '57 as Charlie Chaplin

Everybody wants to get into the act
In the silent movies segment called “Tillie’s Punctured Romance,” Charlie Chaplin, played by Doug Evans ’57, finds refuge from the police (he’d snatched a purse) on the beach among a group of bathing beauties and muscle men. He is smitten by Fanny (Jimmie Byrd Fogle ’58) but ends up sticking his moustache (literally) on Tillie (Marjorie Casebier McCoy ’56, left in the photo).

Bruce Rodgers, Music department head in 1956

Music department head Bruce Rodgers had a great deal to keep him occupied during the 1955-56 school year, including the annual tour of the Adelphian Concert Choir. But like seemingly everyone else at the college, he rolled up his sleeves (and put arm garters on them) to join the show, playing a dance hall piano player in “Tillie’s Punctured Romance.” At the piano with him are Nancy Quigley Costello ’58, Barbara Weeks Erickson ’59, Lynn Green Stormans ’56 and Barbara Barton Nielson ’59.

Leroy Gruver '56, Mary Jane Hungerford Clarke '56, and Joan Walsh  '56

Leroy Gruver ’56 was the show’s music director and conductor. In this shot he’s discussing music with two of the featured singers. Mary Jane Hungerford Clarke ’56, a music major, helped with production, and Joan Walsh ’56 was choreographer.

Musical group the Four Saints

Destined for stardom
The foursome Doug Evans ’57, John Howell ’59, Jerry DuChene ’59, and Bob Erickson ’58 hailed from Everett High School and stopped every show they ever performed, both in college and later as a professionals headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. While at CPS, they went on the road with the admissions team and helped recruit students from all over the Northwest.

Besides being talented vocalists and natural comics, the boys mastered 26 musical instruments between them. After graduation, when they toured as The Four Saints, these talents made audiences feel as if they were getting three shows at once. It was always standing room only whenever they played the Spanish Ballroom at the

Chuck Arnold '56

Four Seasons in Seattle
When he wasn’t playing a silly little boy in the silent movie portion of the show, Chuck Arnold ’56 was student body president and a very serious biology student who went on to become a doctor and a leader in the study of world population.

Beachcomber Walt Rostedt ’57 shows “Charlie” and Tillie the way to Battin’s Beachside Bootleg Bungalow. Charles Battin was a popular business administration professor.

Gail Boden McCowen '59

Partners for life
Years before Ian Flemming dreamed up Goldfinger, Gail Boden McCowen ’59 (above) painted herself gold from head to toe for “Ballet Waltz,” which was presented in modern ballet fashion. The percussionists are James Oglesby and Danlee Mitchell.

Barroom Dancers in 1956 Varsity Show

Lynn Green ’56 and Ken Stormans ’56, Nancy Quigley Costello ’58 and Arden Chittick ’58, Barbara ’59 and Bob Erickson ’60, Barbara Barton Nielson ’59 and Shelly Gerarden ’58 played barroom dancers in the silent movie segment. The pairings were good. Lynn and Ken later married, and the Ericksons had already married while in college.