Arts Garage / Arts Radio Network Team Up For Radio Plays Based On Classic Films

By Bill Hirschman

Arts Garage is hosting a series of live radio play versions of iconic movies produced on stage by Arts Radio Network.

Radio scripts from the 1940s adapting A Star Is Born, It’s a Wonderful Life, Casablanca, and Sunset Boulevard will be performed in one-night-only engagements with live casts, copious sound effects and commercials from the period beginning August 15.

“From Orson Welles and the thrilling Mercury Theatre broadcasts of the 1930’s to Guy Noir and the hilarity of A Prairie Home Companion, the radio play has been one of America’s most beloved art forms,” wrote Artistic Director Lou Tyrrell. These shows provide “a nostalgic trip to the past with a modern twist.”

The kickoff show, A Star Is Born, ties into the current – and highly successful – show at Arts Garage, Beyond the Rainbow, riffing off Judy Garland’s historic Carnegie Hall concert. During the concert she tells the audience that she is excited that she will soon star in the movie A Star Is Born – since she had done a radio version of it earlier.

Tyrrell expects to direct at least the first show, but may hire freelance directors where needed. Sound effects must be seamlessly woven in, so actors will rehearse two or three days as they did with Arts Garage’s staged musicals series this summer. Still, the actors will read off scripts just as their predecessors did on radio during the 1930s and 1940s,

The shows are being produced by John Watts, executive director of Arts Radio, an all-podcast website covering South Florida’s arts community. (Full disclosure: Florida Theater On Stage participates in creating some of those podcasts and posts them on this site.)

The audio veteran has produced four other radio plays locally with such actors as Gordon McConnell, Avi Hoffman, Barry Tarallo and Laura Turnbull: War of the Worlds at Delray Beach Playhouse on Halloween 2002, Dracula, A Tale of Two Cities and Treasure Island, all at the Kravis Center in 2007.

“For people who grew up in the heyday of radio, this is a wonderful, nostalgic trip back in time,” Watts wrote. “For people who did not, it gives them a chance to see this art form come to life on stage with live sound effects and music. Radio theatre is all about timing, and it is a incredible experience to see actors, musicians and sound effects engineers working together.

Tickets are $15 in advance, $5 more at the door. For more information, contact or call (561) 450-6357.

All shows are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays at the Arts Garage, 180 NE First Street,  at Delray Beach, on the north side of the first floor of the municipal parking garage.

The schedule is:
Aug. 15:  A Star is Born
Brings to life one of Judy Garland’s most famous films.  As aspiring actress Vicki Lester rises to stardom, her once famous husband Norman Maine sinks into a downward spiral of alcoholism and obscurity.

Dec. 12: It’s a Wonderful Life
One of the most beloved holiday stories. An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.

Feb. 6: Casablanca
This timeless story of lovers torn apart by war and personal sacrifice is as exciting and moving today as it was in the 1940’s.  Everybody comes to Rick’s Café in Casablanca – including the woman he loved and lost in Paris.

April 3: Sunset Boulevard
Norma Desmond is a silent-screen goddess who dreams of a comeback to motion pictures.  Joe Gillis is a hack writer who becomes her lover in a tale of passion, murder and madness.

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