Radio play entices

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Before there were iPads, cellphones, Gameboys, Wii, and, gasp, television itself, people still managed to entertain each other. “Dear God, how?” you might ask.

Radio, and theater of the mind, were the order of the day, along with a chance to use that precious commodity — imagination.

The Socorro Community Theater will be providing the thrills and excitement of “Radio Suspense Theater” at 3:30 p.m. on April 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 29 at the old Church of the Ephiphany, 219 Fisher. Ticket are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $6 for students.

Director Warren Martz is wearing a different hat than his usual one as co-owner of ‘M’ Mountain Coffeehouse.

He’s been putting the cast through their paces, preparing them to traverse the board for this latest production.

“What’s great about old time radio and this production is that people are setting a tone and telling a story with just their voices, ” Martz enthused.

Martz is also big on the openness of Socorro Community Theater.

“Someone without any previous acting experience can join and perform along with long-time members,” he said. “There’s a place for them and it’s a chance to be creative.”

Radio Suspense in Socorro

Will there be melodrama? What about uproarious hi-jinks and general hilarity? To be sure. Without giving too much away, the plot hinges on the trials and tribulations of a 1940s radio broadcasting station.

The production features the clever conceit of two short radio plays within a play, musical highlights, and some period vintage costuming to die for.

“There’s comedy during the ‘behind the scene at the radio station’ segments, then it shifts to drama and suspense. There’s live music, four songs, actually, and live sound effects, just like it was then,” said Martz.

Aural Art Form

Radio theater was extremely popular in the early part of the twentieth century, especially for an American population struggling to grapple with the Great Depression.

There was a range of popular shows, such as “The Shadow,” “Mercury Theater on the Air,” which introduced the world to the creative titan, a 21-year-old Orson Welles. Welles’ “The War of the Worlds” could easily win as America’s most famous radio drama broadcast.

Its effects were impressive, convincing many listeners at the time that an actual full scale invasion from Mars was taking place.

By the late 1930s, radio drama was widely popular in the United States, as well as other parts of the world.

There were dozens of programs in many different genres, from mysteries and thrillers, to soap operas and comedies.

 


-- Email the author at lalvarado@dchieftain.com.