On December 23rd, 1944 the single largest POW escape on US soil took place at Papago Park in Phoenix, Arizona, 25 German U-Boat sailors tunneled their way out out Camp Papago. 

This is a story about how the hatred of a sworn enemy is effected by face to face encounters. 

This play tells the true story of a one-hit-wonder mock rock and roll band that sprang from the most unlikely kid's TV show to ever hit the airwaves, The Wallace & Ladmo Show. 

Hub Kapp and The Wheels sang about the virtues of being an unemployed lazy bum in their epic hit single, Work, A Dirty Word. The kids and their parents loved it! But there was a price to pay. The wild success of this song threatens to destroy the kids show that launched it. The Wallace & Ladmo Show asks the question: What is success? Or in the parlance of 1964 American show biz: What is the big time?  I couldn’t answer that question until I found myself as a 40 something still living in Phoenix and working in live theater of all things.

There's no question that Ben Tyler's stage comedy "The Wallace & Ladmo Show" traffics in nostalgia for Phoenix's long-running children's TV show of the same name. But what's surprising is how entertaining the play is for theatergoers who did not grow up with dreams of scoring a Ladmo Bag while laughing their heads off in the studio audience.  

Kerry Lengel - Arizona Republic

Regardless of whether you remember “Wall-boy” and “Lad” or any of the many colorful characters created by Pat McMahon like Gerald, Captain Super and Aunt Maud -- if you watched TV as a kid, you will be entertained by the delightful retrospective now playing at the Herberger Stage West.
Lee Cooley - Phoenix Theatre Examiner

A genuine charmer from beginning to end. What makes this production work so well has a lot to do with the casting. You get the feeling that everyone involved is honored to be a part of the show, and it’s that unstoppable warmth that continually flows into the audience and keeps everyone grinning like the Cheshire Cat throughout the whole of its two hour run.

David Appleford - KEZZ FM

Audience Response

I am an orthopedic surgeon who grew up in Phoenix, and watched Wallace and Ladmo religiously. I was in front of that television set more than the synagogue. Since laughter is truly the best medicine, I will be out of business shortly if The Wallace and Ladmo Show continues this summer.  I loved it and want more. Bring em back!!

- Michael Steingart

Our whole Phoenix family saw this production and, all of us, age 7 and up, loved it.

 - Laurel Kimball

As a playwright, I was attracted to minimalist requirements of a solo piece. I created this piece for myself.

This play is a very personal story, based on real occurrences in my life. It revolves around a time that my brother asked if I would be a sperm donor for his wife, my sister-in-law. 

It speaks to permanence in art and life. Is anything ever really permanent?

Escape From Papago Park!

The Wallace & Ladmo Show​​


1. declaration of guilt, sentence, judgment.

2. A firmly held belief or opinion.

A big fan of Billy Strayhorn, convict, Johnny, performs his one man show , Johnny's Homage to Billy Strayhorn for the Well Behaved, for his fellow inmates. In the course of his performance we learn about how he ended up in prison, told against the backdrop of the Billy Strayhorn songbook. This was a commissioned work for The Black Theatre Troupe in Phoenix, Arizona.

"Tyler interweaves Johnny's commentary on his and Strayhorn's past around some well placed Strayhorn tunes as he jokes and sings for his audience. While full of humor, there are plenty of serious moments, including some evocative flashbacks of Johnny in solitary."

Kerry Lengel - Arizona Republic

Tyler's idea to combine a more modern gay man's troubled life with the openly gay and unapologetic Strayhorn's is effective. We get a strong sense of both of their lives with the facts that Johnny introduces about Strayhorn not seeming like items from Wikipedia tossed haphazardly into a play. "

Talkin' Broadway - Gil Ben Brook