Pre-recorded live performances will be streamed to YouTube
Before the television became commonplace, people would gather to let their imaginations roam, as voices from the outside world were transmitted into their homes via the magic of radio waves.
Radio dramas were scripted stories portrayed by actors, with music and live sound effects — snapping celery to mimic breaking bones, for instance — broadcasting tales of other people and places, and even other species and planets, as Orson Welles did in 1938 when he adapted “War of the Worlds,” by H.G. Wells, purportedly sending listeners, convinced there was an alien invasion unfolding, into a panic.
In love with this era of drama, the members of Ladies Who Lunch Productions — Philip Goodridge, Lynn Panting, Théa Morash and Mark White — brought their first horror radio plays to the stage in 2011.
In 2017, thinking back on how much they enjoyed that performance, they resurrected the idea.
“We took the scripts out again, dusted them off, and we got such a good reception this time that we decided to make it an annual event,” Goodridge said. “Every year I write three new shows, so these new three will be 12 in total.”
Because of the restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than perform them all in one night, they are pre-recording a live performance of this year’s “Three Tales of Terror” and releasing them on YouTube each Saturday over a period of three weeks starting Halloween night.
“They are live to film,” Panting said. “What’s interesting is live theatre now is filmed in the multi-cam, sit-com style. So multiple cameras are set up, but the live performance is captured.”
Each show is 30 minutes. And to give them an authentic feel, they will perform two original commercial breaks.
“We write old-timey little commercials for our sponsors or for our other projects,” Goodridge said.
Panting says there are two shows happening when they perform.
“If you close your eyes you can imagine yourself in space or in a 1960s kitchen,” Panting said. “But what’s appealing to the audience to watch us live, we’re reading our scripts in front of you. … It’s like a sneak peek behind the scenes at a radio station.”
The first performance is a thriller called “The Frost,” and will premiere on Halloween at 8 p.m. Goodridge said he took inspiration from movies like “Cabin in the Woods,” for the script.
The next Saturday, Nov. 7, will be the premiere of “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep,” a slasher inspired by movies like “Scream” and “When a Stranger Calls.”
On Nov. 14 will be the premiere of a new story in a series called “Professor Charlemagne and the Age of Shadows.”
“If you close your eyes you can imagine yourself in space or in a 1960s kitchen. But what’s appealing to the audience to watch us live, we’re reading our scripts in front of you. … It’s like a sneak peek behind the scenes at a radio station.”
“She’s like an Indiana Jones-type character,” Goodridge said.
And despite the horror style, Panting says all the shows are PG.
“They are meant to be enjoyed by a family as a whole,” Panting said.
All of the shows have original scores written by Kyle McDavid, and sounds effects, or foley work, by Kevin Woolridge.
All productions are free to stream from the RCA Theatre Company’s YouTube Channel and will be available until Nov. 30.
Andrew Waterman reports on East Coast culture.