Play based on radio drama that incited nationwide panic opens Friday at Bethlehem UMC


Play based on radio drama that incited nationwide panic opens Friday at Bethlehem UMC

BETHLEHEM PLAYERS

Recreating the infamous and historical radio evening of Halloween night 1938, “War of the Worlds: The Panic Broadcast” is being presented by the community theater troupe the Bethlehem Players, at Bethlehem United Methodist Church in the Grassland community north of Franklin, 2419 Bethlehem Loop Road, selected dates and times March 8 – 16.

Written by Joe Landry and directed locally by Johnny Peppers with assistant director Debbie Robinson, the stage production is inspired by the real-life events surrounding Orson Welles’s 1938 radio adaptation of H.G. Wells’s sci-fi novel The War of the Worlds and the Bethlehem Players will be performing it as a 1940s live radio broadcast in front of a “studio audience.”

“Our previous radio-style productions, “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Carol” were hugely popular with our packed audiences.  This time, it’s a bit more ambitious and pays off for an exciting and entertaining evening for the audience,” Robinson said.

The radio ensemble recreates the colorful events surrounding the notorious evening and the aftermath, including the full original broadcast. Complete with vintage commercials and live sound effects, this radio-play-within-a-radio-play is a thrilling homage to the form’s golden age and timely reminder of what fear can do to a society.

The large cast includes three area radio veterans: Pat Reilly as Professor Pierson, Harry Robinson as the Studio Announcer, and Mark McNulty as Orson Welles. The other cast members include: Art Ankrum, Sharon Brugman, Steve Brugman, W. Preston Crook, Scott Dannemiller, Taylor Foster, Pam Funderburg, Elizabeth Hayes, Beth Henderson, Jim Maden, Jim Melrose, Ginny Welles, Lynn Yates, Brian Zimmerman, and production musical director Kandace Peppers.

“The War of the Worlds: The Panic Broadcast” is presented at 7 p.m. March 8, 9, 14, and 15, and at 2 p.m. March 10 & 16. With limited seating, $15 per person general admission tickets are available online via Bethlehemumc.com/drama or 615-669-BPAC (2722).

Proceeds from all performances will benefit Open Table Nashville, a non-profit, interfaith community that disrupts cycles of poverty, journeys with the marginalized, and provides education about issues of homelessness.

Founded in 1997, the Bethlehem Players have staged two world premiere productions with sold-out crowds, Southern Fried Funeral and Southern Fried Nuptials, dramas like A Christmas Carol: A Live Radio Play and It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, hits like Steel Magnolias, A Bad Year for Tomatoes, Rumors, Fiddler On The Roof, Annie, and Barefoot In The Park.

More info, www.bethlehemumc.com.

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