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Sunday’s Classic Radio Theatre show, in part, will feature episodes of The Roy Rogers Show, The Jack Benny Program, The Whistler and Quiz Kids.

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Flash Gordon still frees planets from the totalitarian grip of Ming the Merciless, Jack Benny’s timeless jokes still make audiences cry with laughter and the Lone Ranger and Tonto still draw down on train robbers.

This is the stuff of Classic Radio Theatre, performing live Sunday at ACTS Theatre, 30 NE 52nd St.

“We do it because we think it’s just a whole lot of fun to begin with,” said voice actor Randy Kemp. “And our audiences, so far, have agreed. They’ve enjoyed this very much.”

In the small, intimate ACTS Theatre, some of the city’s most talented voice actors and personalities step up to the microphones and perform classic radio scripts from episodes of golden oldies like The Lone Ranger, The Adventures of the Thin Man, Red Ryder, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and others, complete with music cues and sound effects.

Most Classic Radio Theatre shows are roughly three hours long with seven or eight segments, Kemp said. To add to their old-school authenticity, the cast also performs old radio commercials between each segment.

The voice actors use hand gestures and expressions, but this theater group’s strength comes from the power of spoken word. Kemp said its goal to paint pictures, develop characters and build scenes in the listeners’ heads using only language.

“If voice actors, music cues and sound effects can deliver to you the colors to paint the picture in your head, then we’ve done the job,” he said. “Frankly, if we do it well, the picture in the listener’s head, whatever they can visualize from what we perform, is going to be much better than anything we could ever shoot on television or film.”
To find works that best suit its cast, the show’s producer, Margie Madden, handpicks scripts from popular shows of the time. Kemp said actors add a little more panache by wearing costumes that make them visually compelling.

When originally produced in the 1930s and ’40s, radio shows were performed before live audiences, and a certain stage presence was expected.

Seeing an actor’s face or discovering that the role of a teenage boy was handled by a female voice actor delighted crowds, Madden said, and it’s a delight that Classic Radio Theatre is gunning for in its performances.

“We’re seeing a lot of older people coming to our shows who have memories of listening to the radio with their family. I think it brings back a lot of good memories,” Madden said. “I remember my mother telling me that when a program came on that they all wanted to hear, they would get in their pajamas and make popcorn and hot chocolate and all gather around the radio the way families gather around now to watch movies.”

Sunday’s Classic Radio Theatre show, in part, will feature episodes of The Roy Rogers Show, The Jack Benny Program, The Whistler and Quiz Kids.

“Nowadays, we’re trained to see everything visually. … When you listen to the scripts, they’re more descriptive than television scripts because they have to set the scenes for you in your mind,” Madden said. “As you listen to them, you get almost totally involved in the verbiage. You have to complete the picture in your mind. It’s a different experience from a play or movie.”

ACTS Theatre seats about 60 people and provides an intimate viewing experience. It also affords the actors the opportunity to gauge audience response as they perform.

“We can see the faces in the audience in many cases, and it’s interesting, especially to see the older folks sitting and either looking at the program or looking at their laps or sitting with their eyes closed, not even watching,” Kemp said. “They’re listening to the performance and the script.”

Complimentary beverages, including beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres, are included in the price of admission.

Learn more about this show and upcoming productions at classicradiotheatre.com.

Print Headline; Analog fantasies, Classic Radio Theatre presents colorful radio tales of yore on Sunday.

Speaking of ACTS Theatre, Classic Radio Theatre

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