War of the Worlds Review - Radio History Made by Wells and Welles

 

Combine the talents of H.G. Wells and Orson Welles and you have the radio classic, WAR OF THE WORLDS. Presented as a joint production by Trepany House and Fake Radio, a troupe of multi-talented (and voiced) actors whose goal is to bring old-time radio broadcasts to the modern audience, WAR OF THE WORLDS crackles and shines. The eleven actors (three women and eight men) are garbed in 1930's attire, and the set consists of three old-fashioned microphones on stands and eleven chairs in a semi-circle. Now in its eleventh year, Fake Radio has been presenting their unique re-creations of classic radio shows between 1938 and 1958. All the old sound effects and music cues are perfectly synchronized with the lines of the actors, each with a script in his hand. Sometimes, even the ridiculous commercials of times past are included. Often, unexpected improvisations alter the original broadcasts to add new elements of amusement and laughs. 

 

 

War of the Worlds - Jen Hasty, Dan Kinsella, and Dave Cox - Photo by Jorge Vismara

 

 

Authenticity is the key and succeeds in bringing to life the classic WAR OF THE WORLDS - which caused ripples (and tsunamis) for its listeners in 1938. Panic was so extreme that New York Times headlines trumpeted the chaos that ensued all across America and forced the program’s writer, director, and actor Orson Welles to issue an apology to the American public. 

 

War of the Worlds - Chris Bonno and Colleen O'Shaughnessey - Photo by Jorge Vismara

 

 

Imagine a world where Martians attack the U.S., beginning in hot-spot New Jersey and soon expanding into New York City and across the East Coast. Picture initial curiosity turning to panic as the invaders destroy the armies sent to stop their progress. Is there anything that can stop the invaders and save the U.S.? Orson Welles and his Mercury Radio Theatre troupe certainly knew how to engender terror - while fooling a nation of radio fans. And the talented team of Fake Radio actors has just the right touch to bring WAR OF THE WORLDS to life. The serious and the hilarious share equal footing in this memorable show. The broadcast, presented with almost exactly the same words and manner as the original, is a special treat offered by David Koff, artistic director of Fake Radio since 2005, for their Halloween show. 

 

War of the Worlds - Julie Millett and David Koff - Photo by Jorge Vismara

 

 

The program is preceded by a hysterical tongue-in-cheek biography of Orson Welles, the genius (happily from a well-to-do family) who overcame being an orphan at 16 to achieve fame in theater, radio, and film. “Citizen Kane” immediately comes to mind, as does Welles’ “Macbeth” written for a black theater group. Fake Radio emphasizes Welles’ monumental appetite for food, drink, and sex - which, of course, makes for some interesting scandals. WAR OF THE WORLDS guarantees a fun evening - and a peek at radio history that is well worth the price of a ticket.

 

 

War of the Worlds - Dan Kinsella, David Koff, Peter Lownds, and Dave Cox - Photo by Jorge Vismara

 

 

WAR OF THE WORLD runs through October 31, 2015, on Saturdays at 8 p.m. at the Trepany House of the Steve Allen Theater, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90027. Tickets run from $20 (general) to $35 (VIP). For reservations, call 800-595-4849 or go online at www.trepanyhouse.org.

 

 

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