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Wednesday, 19 May 2010 13:14

Soundstage Productions sparkles with vintage radio readings

Written by Gary Liam Scott
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Soundstage Productions sparkles with vintage radio readings
Wikimedia Commons/Franck Dethier

Not only is Soundstage productions the only professional readers' theatre company in the Midwest, but it continues to improve its craft, never pausing to rest on its laurels. The current production, The Soundstage Radio Hour, features vintage scripts from episodes of "My Friend Irma", originally broadcast in 1947, and "The Romance of Helen Trent", originally aired in 1939. Anyone who feels that readers' theatre might be stale and boring is in for a pleasant surprise. The period costuming and pre-show antics from the cast even provide visual stimulation that is normally lacking in readers' theatre.

Director Kristen Robins lives up to her titles in every sense, from greeting the guests as they enter to introducing the show, to making sure that everyone is comfortable throughout. Her attention to detail is evident in this tightly woven and entertaining production.

Cast members Matt Anderson, David Bornholdt, Laura Ernst, Helen Hoepfner and T. Joseph Reinert work together well as a closely bound ensemble. And the smaller size of the theatre makes it easy to hear every word. With the exception of Joe Reinert, who plays the announcer for both episodes (with a perfect radio voice), each actor must switch personas during the performance, since two different radio programs are presented: the comical "My Friend Irma" and the more brooding and sinister "Romance of Helen Trent". The cast accomplishes its metamorphosis with skill and ease, aided no doubt by Reinert's staid announcing and sound effects.

Hats off as well to Assistant Director and Photographer Daniel Hill and Technical Director Jenn Claverella, whose talents contributed to the success of such a humorous yet thought-provoking production.

Even though the world was deeply troubled in the '30s and '40s, somehow it is oddly reassuring to us today to look back with nostalgia at an era when life was simpler and we knew America would emerge victorious and confident. It is also educational to look back on a piece of our history, replete with music and commercials from the period.

The Soundstage Radio Hour continues at the Soundstage Theatre in Crestwood Court through May 16. For information, visit Sound Stage Productions.

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