If American Idol had aired on the radio in the 1940s, Judy Garland may have competed with Frank Sinatra for the title. This summer, the National World War II Museum's Stage Door Canteen (945 Magazine St., 528-1944; www.nationalww2museum.org) presents a mash-up of pop culture from the 1940s and the 2000s: Stage Door Idol, a competition series featuring 48 contestants who perform popular 1940s songs.
"Stage Door Idol was a sellout last year," says Victoria Reed, director of entertainment at the museum. Twelve contestants compete each Tuesday from July 12 through Aug. 2, and the finals take place Aug. 12.
From tribute acts to a stand-up comedy show, Make 'Em Laugh, where Lynn "Win" Roberts impersonates famous personalities like Red Skelton and W.C. Fields, the music and entertainment of the World War II era takes center stage all summer.
"As Bob (Hope), I'll be doing 'Thanks for the Memories,'" Roberts says. A music major who began his career in music performance, Roberts also performs on violin and clarinet during the show.
"On the clarinet, I'll be doing a medley of a 'Closer Walk with Thee' and 'Amazing Grace' as Pete Fountain," Roberts says. He'll also play violin as Jack Benny.
For those who prefer to participate rather than spectate, weekly swing dancing lessons are held from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. The free dance classes are followed by live music and run through August.
Whether museum patrons choose to watch a show, compete in Stage Door Idol or kick up their heels at a swing dancing class, Roberts hopes they enjoy themselves.
"If the audience has half as much fun as I do during a show, then they had a wonderful time," Roberts says.