The World Premiere runs until May 18 at The Gene Frankel Theatre in NoHo.

By: May. 03, 2024
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Christie Perfetti Williams new play Bettye and the Jockettes Spinning Records at the Holiday Inn opens tonight at The Gene Frankel Theatre in NoHo. The World Premiere runs until May 18. Go inside the process with new photos from the rehearsal room. 

The new comedy takes place at the 1950’s radio station “WHER - 1000 Beautiful Watts.” Sara Thigpen who was awarded the 2019 New York Innovative Theatre Award (NYITA) for Outstanding Director, directs. Produced by Retro Productions under the direction of Artistic Director Heather E. Cunningham, Montserrat Mendez of the MozzleStead Company serves as associate producer.

This production marks Retro’s second collaboration with playwright Christie Perfetti Williams who previously wrote An Appeal to the Woman of the House (nominated for a NYITA for Outstanding Original Full-length Script) which Retro produced in 2014. The production was inspired in part by the book “The Next Elvis: Searching for Stardom at Sun Records,” by Barbara Barnes Sims.

A little history on WHER - WHER-Memphis was “America’s first all-girl radio station”, created by sound legend/record producer Sam Phillips who produced recordings with Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, among others. The station was co-owned by Kemmons Wilson who founded the Holiday Inn hotel chain. He offered space in a Holiday Inn which served as the station's first offices. The station went on the air in 1955 and was run exclusively by women. They sold the advertising, produced commercials, directed, created and engineered programming, ran the station’s control boards, interviewed local celebrities, reported the news, and played popular records.

About Bettye and the Jockettes Spinning Records at the Holiday Inn

It’s July 3, 1956 and the jockettes of WHER, America’s first all-girl radio station in Memphis, Tennessee, are having one hell of a day; the copywriter has run off to elope, they have just found out that the Elvis Presley is coming to the station to be interviewed on-air, and their star DJ Bettye has shown up… in pants. When Elvis’ record promoter arrives and is none other than Bettye’s former flame Benjamin, sarcastic zingers fly, sisterhoods are forged, and secrets are exposed.

The cast features Tracey Beltrano (Chucky/Syfy Network), Heather E. Cunningham (White on White/Hoi Polloi - NYTimes Critics Pick), Joe Mathers (First Flight New Play Festival/Boomerang Theatre), Marie Elena O'Brien (Rose By Any Other Name/Chain Theatre), Alisha Spielmann (This Stretch of Montpelier/The Fire This Time Festival), Matthew Tarricone (American Sports Story/FX), and Morgan Nadia Williams (She Kills Monsters/Stella Adler Studio).

The creative team includes choreography by Ricardo Rust, set design by Lauren Barber, costume design by Viviane Galloway, lighting design by Ndanu Mutisya, sound design by Robert A.K. Gonyo, and properties design by Heather E. Cunningham. Stage Management by Jodi Witherell.


Performances run May 3 – 18, with shows running Thursday – Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 3pm, with additional performances on Monday, May 6 at 8pm, Saturday, May 11 at 2pm, and Wednesday, May 15 at 8pm, Please note there is no performance on Thursday, May 9. Running time: 90 minutes. The Gene Frankel Theatre is located at 24 Bond Street (Between Lafayette & Bowery), New York, NY 10012. Subways: 6 to Bleecker Street, B/D/F/M to Broadway/Lafayette. Tickets are $22 for students/seniors, $30 for general admission are available at

Photo Credit: Montserrat Mendez


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