Neil Simon's delightful 1985 Tony Award play about Eugene Jerome's first experiences in the military, Biloxi Blues, revealed a whole new side when it was presented at Los Angeles Theatre Works (www.latw.org) as a radio performance.
Dressed all in white tee shirts, Eugene Morris Jerome (Josh Radnor – How I Met Your Mother), Arnold Epstein (John Cabrera- Gilmore Girls), Joseph Wykowski (Joshua Biton – Band of Brothers), Don Carney (Matthew Patrick Davis- Joan of Arcadia), Roy Selridge (Russell Soder-Without A Trace) played the army orientees in the story. They were joined by James Hennesey (Rob Benedict- Felicity) and Sgt. Toomey (Steve Rankin – Men in Black) as another soldier and leader of the troop. Also in the group are Daisy Hannigan, Eugene's girlfriend (Darby Stanchfield - Jericho) and Rowena, a working girl (Justine Bateman - Family Ties).
This eclectic group of recruits is fodder for Eugene's thoughts and notes. Directed by Nataki Garrett and produced by Susan Albert Loewenberg, the performance was recorded for live broadcast over public and satellite radio worldwide. It was a real treat for someone who grew up on radio mystery theater. Sometimes our minds can paint a more interesting picture than a full-blown movie where everything is supplied for us.
The sound effects – train whistles, clopping horses, doors slamming – all enhanced the performance. Held at the Skirball Cultural Center Theatre 2701 N. Sepulveda, Los Angeles Ca 90049. These performances are only done five times (Wed, Thurs, Fri 8 pm and Sat 3 pm and Sun 4 pm) and then broadcast onto national radio stations at approximately 10 pm locally on Saturday nights. In Southern California it is 89.3 KPCC, KPFA 94.1 in Northern California, KUOW 94.9 Seattle, 89.7 WGBH Boston, XM Satellite radio nationwide, Central Florida 88.9 WQCS, Sonoma Country, CA 91.1 KRCB, and Albuquerque, 89.9 KUNM. It is also broadcast internationally on BBC and in some cases possible for Podcast on the internet. Digital download can be had at www.audible.com and www.mediabay.com.
Previous performances include Living Together and Round and Round the Garden. Each performance tapped Hollywood talent to help the radioplay come to life. Future plays are The Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht, Stick Fly by Lydia Diamond, Secret Order by Bob Clyman and Boats On a River by Julie Marie Myatt.
Founded in 1974, the mission of LA Theatre Works is to enrich the cultural life of our national community through the use of innovative technologies to produce and preserve contemporary and dramatic audio works. In 1984, they began working with the 75,000 incarcerated and at-risk students with the LA Juvenile system and found that introducing this creativity to the youth helped relieve some of the tension of that environment.
LATW also produces Alive & Aloud, a selection of audio plays to more than 2,000 secondary schools and libraries nation wide. Those schools participating receive the study guides and resource for classroom applications. This unique learning tool introduces the students to many types of literature.
In 1999, LATW founded the Library Access group and has now partnered with over 900 public libraries in rural and urban communities that can receive the plays at no charge. Funding is naturally always a problem for cultural events such as this and they have several graduated scales of donations and benefits. Going to their site at www.LATW.ORG you can see the variety of memberships.
Prices for individual shows run from $39-47.00/per ticket. Seasons can be purchased, too, at varying prices.
It is truly a different experience. If you can't come in person, then tune in to your local station to hear "The Play's the Thing."
For dates and times of exact perfromances call 310 827 0808 for more information.