Created and directed by Mount Holyoke College music faculty member Mark Gionfriddo, "The Big Broadcast!" is a re-creation of a live 1940's radio variety show featuring the Jazz Ensembles (Big Band Jazz, Vocal Jazz, and Chamber Jazz) performing well-known tunes and hidden gems from the swing era and the American Popular Songbook. For the last thirteen years, the show has been emceed by Brian Lapis (WWLP-TV22 meteorologist) in the role of host "Fred Kelley", while Gionfriddo appears as bandleader “Matt Morgan”. To get an inside look into the production process, we have a collection of Big Broadcast! videos.
The annual performance project is rather unusual due to its production elements. Several ensemble members serve as associate producers and assist Gionfriddo in writing the script, which include Lapis's intros and a newscast as well as an original radio play for the second act. Commercials for authentic products are interspersed throughout, and the theatrical event is performed in period dress, hair and makeup. The result is an entertaining and historically accurate concert event that has fascinated both students and the surrounding community for fifteen years.