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Benita Bugs the Bugaloos

LOSE YOUR EYES. Take a deep breath. Lean back. If you feel peaceful and restful, then you know what tranquility is. And if you enjoy tranquility, you will like what the Bugaloos like, and like their music too.

      The Bugaloos are the music group who have their own Saturday morning show on NBC. On the show the Bugaloos actually wear wings -- and fly! And their home is called Tranquility Forest.

      If you've watched them, you know that the Bugaloos really enjoy singing and winging -- they really fly! You also know that their music is sweet as well as serene.

      "You might say the Bugaloos are the good guys," one of the show's creators told me. "They live in this peaceful forest with their new-sounding music and they spend much of their time helping others."

      The Bugaloos have a message: That four young people can get along together and help others. On the show the Bugaloos do this by living up to their individual names --- Harmony, Courage, Joy and I.Q.

      The "bad guy" on the show is a witch, Benita Bizarre. She is continually stirring up trouble! Benita is a flashy old singer who wants to "get with it." She might be described as a kind of rock witch. She lives in a jukebox and has two flunkies named Woofer and Tweeter. Benita wants a hit record, so she's always trying to steal the "now-sounding" songs of the Bugaloos.

      It all sounds like a big fairy tale, and in a way it is. The Bugaloos show is full of fantasy and make-believe creatures. Besides Benita Bizarre, there's Peter Platter, a schemer who works on radio station KOOK, Sparky, a firefly who can't fly or see in the dark, and many others.

      The Bugaloos themselves are played by four British singers. "We chose these young people after much consideration," one of the show's creators told me. "So many youngsters wanted the parts, we had four thousand people trying out. The lucky winners were John McIndoe, Wayne Laryea, Caroline Ellis, and John Philpott."

      To get ready for their roles as the Bugaloos, these young actors came to the United States. They stayed in an enormous mansion in Hollywood, California, not far from the TV studio. For weeks they took singing, dancing, and acting lessons. They worked hard and rehearsed often. Besides the TV show, they made a movie and a record album.

      "It's great, just great," says Caroline Ellis, of her new life and career in the United States. "I still can't get over the sunshine day in and day out, in California." Caroline, who is twenty, plays the Bugaloo known as Joy.

      John Philpott, twenty-one, was really surprised to get a job on the show. He had never been to London before he tried out. "I had a daytime job pressing pants in a factory in Kent," he says, "and a night job as a drummer in a small musical group. Just for a lark, I hitchhiked to London to try out for The Bugaloos." John's little lark turned into a transatlantic journey and an exciting job. He plays the Bugaloo named Courage.

      Wayne Laryea, who is eighteen, plays Harmony. He likes writing poetry, going to the movies, horseback riding, and America. "The weather, the big cars, the people -- they're tremendous!" he says. Besides being a Bugaloo, Wayne would like to be a writer.

      John McIndoe, twenty-two, was born in Scotland. He was brought up in a circus where his parents did a trapeze act. John played a clown in the circus and also taught himself to sing and play the guitar. On The Bugaloos, he plays the part of I.Q.

      Benita Bizarre is played by the famous American actress and singer, Martha Raye. She has been known for years for her funny, exaggerated faces (called "mugging"), and for her clowning and loud funny songs on comedy shows. This is Miss Raye's first role in a program designed for a young audience, and she really enjoys herself.

      And how, those who haven't seen it may ask, does Martha Raye get in a jukebox? Why, she simply drives in -- into a wildly lit up studio with a giant turntable! Almost anything can happen on this free-wheeling fantasy show.

Copyright © 1971 by Scholastic Magazines, Inc.

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