Each year around this season, Rosendale Theatre managing director Ann Citron puts her stage director hat back on and organizes a live performance in the style of an on-air drama or variety show from the Golden Age of Radio. Past years have included such treats as It’s a Wonderful Life and a pair of murder mysteries, each punctuated by ’40-vintage advertising jingles. Each actor at the mics plays multiple roles, occasionally challenged with having to hold a conversation with him- or herself in different characters’ voices. Since the audience can see as well as hear, everyone onstage wears authentic period costumes.
Sound like heaps of fun? It is. In fact, these shows are worth attending for Fre Atlast’s amazing Foley-table wizardry alone. Last I heard, Fre and Ann had just nailed down a great recording of the cry of a kookaburra to use for a sound effect in their upcoming show. It’s going to be a great evening — two great evenings, in fact — and not to be missed.
Beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, December 15 and 16, the movie screen will be rolled up and the Rosendale Theatre stage dressed for live performances of two gems from the long and distinguished career of the “Poet Laureate of Radio,” Norman Corwin: The Plot to Overthrow Christmas and The Anatomy of Sound. Rick Meyer, Brian Mathews, Bruce Pileggi, Christine Crawfis and Ann Citron will be the actors, and Fre Atlast, Harry Sweet and Jim Luckner the orchestra.
From the title, The Plot to Overthrow Christmas sounds like a bit of cornball fluff; but Corwin was known for his progressive politics and his sharp wit, so expect some social relevance to creep in. The story involves a demonic scheme to assassinate Santa Claus, conceived by a team of historical and literary no-goods — including Nero, Caligula, Haman, Ivan the Terrible, Lucrezia Borgia and Simon Legree — at the behest of Mephistopheles, who is concerned that the persistence of the Christmas spirit is impeding his efforts to corrupt humankind. Nero gets the gig; complications ensue.
This performance is appropriate for all ages. Admission costs $12 for the general public, $10 for Rosendale Theatre Collective members. The venue is located at 408 Main Street (Route 213) in Rosendale. For more information, call (845) 658-8989 or visit www.rosendaletheatre.org.