Millennium Repertory Company’s Teen Actors Guild reopens 2020 season with radio play rendition of “War of the Worlds: The Panic Broadcast.”
The radio broadcast, homage to the golden age of radio, will be complete with commercials and live sound effects.
Although the play is originally a Halloween broadcast, there aren’t any aspects of the holiday other than of fear. The show is very much based around the (theme) of how quickly people can be overtaken by media fear. The version that we’re doing...comments on that all throughout history -- how hearing something can influence people in different ways,” Spangler said.
“In this world where we do not know if things will ever be the same, that’s the same issue people were dealing with in the show in the 30s and 40s.”
It’s a radio play within a radio play, says Director Landon Spangler.
“Our setting is in the 1940s, remembering the 100year anniversary of “War of the Worlds,” Spangler said.
“You have a series of actors playing Orson Wells and his 1930s radio crew performing “War of the World.” It’s a cute way of looking at things,” he said.
“This is a staged play about a radio show. Everything is read live on stage...like what the radio actors would have done.”
The cast includes Carter Cantrell, Ethan Cusick, Nik Dunavant, Karisha Glover, Madelyn Hansen, Maddison Helms, Travis Lawson, Tanner Maccaganone, Zach Smith, Zoe Stinson, and Sarah Turner. Stage manager is Colleen Wainright.
In 1938, Orson Wells’ Halloween broadcast featured an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ science fiction classic novel that shocked the nation, causing panic among listeners. The real-time account of a fictional alien landing resonated with the public facing an impending German threat. Today, public fear and panic is no less prevalent.
The show replaces TAG’s planned “West Side Story” that was postponed until next season due to COVID-19 concerns.
“We were looking for something that could have smaller audiences, live streaming capability that we are able to buy into,” Spangler said. “It’s a good opportunity during these crazy COVID times.”
A live performance will be presented Aug. 7-9 at the Manchester Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Seating will be limited due to social distancing and masks are requested. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors and military, and $10 for students at Milliniumrep.org; video streaming is $10.95. The MAC is located just off the Manchester square at 128 E. Main St.
“This is still live theater. We would love to have people come and check us out,” Spangler said. “It will be as safe as we can possibly make it for people to return to Millennium Repertory Theater.”
Video on Demand is being offered through a partnership with Broadway on Demand at https://bit.ly/3f8MgNU. Video access will be available starting Friday, Aug. 7 at 7:30 p.m. until Monday, Aug. 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Aug.14 at 7 a.m. CT through Sunday, August 16 at 7 a.m.
Offering video on demand is a new option for MRC. Spangler explained that with show licensing, the process is a bit more complicated than live streaming to Facebook.
“Theatrical rights have to be very specifically received. You may only do specific things with the performance,” he said.
“What we have the right to do is record a final rehearsal and put it on the Broadway on Demand site. (It) serves as the ticketing base for all online customers.”