Last Three Days of Wildly Popular
“Wallace and Ladmo Show” Run
at Downtown Herberger Theatre

By Mariah Fleming

On June 15th, 16th and 17th the Actor’s Theatre & Desert Foothills Theatre, in association with Centennial Theatre Foundation presents the final week of The Wallace and Ladmo Show at the Herberger Theatre in Phoenix. Written and directed by Phoenix actor Ben Tyler, the enduringly popular play about Phoenix TV’s Wallace and Ladmo Show features Cathy Dresbach, who played “Jody” on the TV show, among other Valley favorites.

Even people who weren’t here to see the original show as kids rave about this production. They bring their kids to see it. It’s so popular, the play has been staged numerous times over the years. And the multi talented Tyler ads even more to the show, making it an extra delightful romp back through the Wallace and Ladmo time machine, even for those who have seen it before. The show, broadcast on Phoenix TV’s then independent Channel 5 (now CBS) launched careers, broke barriers, and in short, was way ahead of its time. It remained on the air for 35 years! And Phoenix didn’t want it to end.

Who can forget when, in 1964, the mock-rock band Hub Kapp and The Wheels (“Spinal Tap” in the womb?) premiered on The Wallace & Ladmo Show? Hub Kapp and the Wheels made such a splash, it redefined the meaning of ‘overnight sensation.” Hub Kapp was played Pat McMahon (yes, the same Pat McMahon who has legions of TV and talk radio fans today!) Hub Kapp and the Wheels got so huge, their success threatened to destroy the very show that launched it. Their appearance on The Steve Allen Show in 1964 was a smash. Their records got to number one on the charts. They signed with Capitol Records. And in spite of it all, the band chose to come back home, helping to cement the Wallace and Ladmo Show’s iconic place in TV history. Pat McMahon, who played Hub Kapp, said: “We didn’t have anybody [character] who was a musician and everybody was jumping up and down and screaming over Beatles, Rolling Stones and Freddy and the Dreamers, Gerry and the Pacemakers. Everybody in the world who ever had a music group in those days had an audience, so we kind of created our own star.

We did it satirically, but in this case the audience one-upped us and they thought it was so much fun, they decided to treat Hub like a star. We started doing concerts…I mean, the worst rock and roll band in the world. I had a black pompadour wig on. From the scalp up I looked like James Brown. From the scalp down I looked like a cadaver. The amazing thing is with the wig, the eyebrows, false eyelashes, black and white outfit, all of those things, in those days I was absolutely mondo-bizarro.”

Pat McMahon, famous for his many beloved characters on The Wallace and Ladmo Show, and Mike Condello, the Phoenix musician and wonderful songwriter who wrote many of the tunes heard on the show, including the theme song, are inductees into the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame, with Bill “Wallace” Thompson, Lad “Ladmo” Kwiatkowski and The Wallace and Ladmo Show. It remains an adored show with beloved characters who live on in the minds of old and new fans alike,

It will always be revered as the groundbreaking, smartly clever, superbly witty Phoenix children's television show that didn't talk down to children. The show that rose of out of ‘backwater Phoenix' was enjoyed by the adults as much as their kids, and still is. There are a thousand untold stories about the Wallace and Ladmo Show in this once naked desert city, and “Hub Kapp and the Wheels” is only one of them. Join the cast this weekend to find out what other stories keep bringing audiences back to see this affectionate stage show homage to “The Wallace and Ladmo Show.” The play runs on Friday at 7pm, Saturday at 2pm and 7pm and Sunday at 2pm. Tickets are selling out, so get yours fast. Tickets are available online or by phone at 602.252.8497