Radio onstage. It sounds like a contradiction in terms, but it is also a description of a new series of one-night events presented by The Theatre at Arts Garage in Delray Beach. Last week it kicked off with a stage version of “A Star is Born,” based on the 1954 Judy Garland film, a tie-in with the company’s recent hit show, “Beyond the Rainbow.”
Still to come this season will be one-hour condensations of “It’s a Wonderful Life” (Dec. 12), “Casablanca” (Feb. 6) and “Sunset Boulevard” (April 3), all originally presented live on radio.
The series is the brainchild of John Watts, executive director of Arts Radio Network, a podcast website that covers the region’s arts community. His work with radio plays goes back to 2002, when he produced “War of the Worlds” at the Delray Beach Playhouse, as a fundraiser for WXEL.
The key to these radio plays, as those who recall the days before television know, are the sound effects which bring the stories to life. The 70-plus effects for “A Star is Born,” for instance, were “all done manually, no recorded sound effects,” says Watts proudly. “I have a prop master from Florida Stage, Daniel Eilola, who builds them. We tried to be as authentic as possible, the way these effects were done in the ’40s and ’50s. One of things I wanted to show onstage was how difficult these plays were to do.”
For “It’s a Wonderful Life,” for instance, “There are car doors, gunfire, there’s windows breaking with a specially make glass-breaking box. There a squeal noise of a car stopping which is made by a scratch box, nails that ride across a piece of tempered glass.”
The best part of the program — at least financially — is that because of a glitch in the copyright law, most of these radio plays are in public domain. As a result, ticket prices can be kept low, only $15 in advance or $20 at the door. With more than a thousand of these radio play scripts in existence, Watts figures the series could easily become an annual event at Arts Garage.
“It’s a great educational experience to see what it takes to do these plays. To see a different form of theater, which draws so much on the audience’s imagination,” concludes Watts. “And it’s only an hour long.”
Next: IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, Theatre at Arts Garage, 180 NE First St., Delray Beach. Thurs., Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $15 to $20. Call: 561-450-6357.
Maltz Jupiter single tickets …
Maltz Jupiter Theatre single tickets go on sale to the general public Mondayat 10 a.m. For that day only, the box office will be open for walk-up patrons while the theater continues to undergo substantial renovation construction.
So you can expect a line to buy tickets or maybe a wait to get through by phone — 561-575-2223 — to the company that won every Carbonell musical category earlier this year.
Tickets on the main floor range from $52 to $63, but if you want to see a show in high style ask about the new, roomier club level premium seats. They come with access to a new upstairs lobby, private bar and restrooms, as well as a free drink with each ticket. Yes, they also come with a higher price, $79 ($83 for opening night), and there are only 62 of them. The upstairs club level, expected to be ready in time for the Maltz’s second show of the season, “Annie,” on Dec. 3, has been dubbed The Green Room. After all, board member Roe Green and her foundation were the lead donors on the $2.5 million expansion.
The Maltz also reports that it has sold 7,509 subscriptions for its 2013-2014 season, just 27 short of the total for the previous season. That is roughly 80 percent of capacity for two-week shows, 57 percent for three-week shows. And have no fear, procrastinators, subscription sales continue through the second week of December.