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Modern Theatre in Context: A Critical Timeline

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The most famous members of the Army Show: Wayne and Shuster

CBC Radio transfers Andrew Allan, director of drama at CBC Vancouver, to Toronto to develop the Sunday night Stage series of Canadian plays broadcast nationally from 1944 to 1957. Allan uses the high-profile series to create a national Canadian theatre on the air and to produce original and experimental and socially progressive drama. The several dozen radio playwrights he helped to develop include Len Peterson, Lister Sinclair, Gerald Noxon, W.O. Mitchell, Harry Boyle, Patricia Joudry, Allan King, Reuben Ship, and Joseph Schull.

Following the example of American entertainment efforts to maintain military and public morale during the Second World War, the Canadian Army Show begins a Canada-wide tour in March after six months rehearsal at the Victoria Theatre in Toronto. Organized under the War Charities Act, the Army Show is comprised of 19 male dancers and singers, 24 female dancers and singers, an orchestra of 37, a stage crew of 19 and Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster as writers. In December the original company is split into two musical and three variety shows consisting of about 20 members each to entertain the 250,000 Canadian soldiers in the United Kingdom awaiting the invasion of Sicily. The Canadian Navy organizes the Meet the Navy company consisting of 38 Wrens and 41 male performers plus a large technical crew to produce a Broadway-like professional war entertainment show. Two 1943 Canadian tours attract audiences of 500,000. Meet the Navy tours the United Kingdom in 1944 and France, Holland, Belgium and Germany in 1945. By the time it is disbanded in 1946, the company has entertained one and a half million civilians and military service personnel.