NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

October 24, 2013

Invasion of the Radio Players

Seabrook group to stage anniversary production of 'War of the Worlds'

Strange visitors are coming to Seabrook the day before Halloween, and they don’t seem to be very friendly.

“The War of the Worlds” will come to life in the Seabrook Old-Time Radio Players’ stage production of the radio play based on H.G. Wells’ classic novel detailing an alien invasion.

“We had plenty of actors in the past that wanted to do it,” director Don Bagley said. “But it’s such a challenging show. I wanted to make sure that we had the right people to do it.”

It seems that now, the right people have arrived ... along with the Martians.

Coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the original “The Mercury Theatre on the Air” broadcast that featured Orson Welles and caused a panic up and down the East Coast in October 1938, the OTR Players will present two free shows at the Seabrook Library on Wednesday at 3:30 and 6:30 p.m.

“You have to give (the audience) something to look at,” Bagley said. “It’s not a full-fledged play, but we do give them things to look at. Usually lighting and blocking. Our characters will make entrances and exits, rather than just stand at the microphone.”

A Seabrook resident and member of the Screen Actors Guild, Bagley has been with the OTR Players since they started in 2004 as an informal lunchtime actors workshop reading screenplays. But movie scripts are two hours long, so Bagley and friends tried their hands at radio plays.

“We started saying, ‘This is pretty cool, we should try doing this in front of people,’” Bagley said. “And that’s what we ended up doing. It (also) takes a lot of work to find the scripts that work better than others in a live performance. That’s always a challenge since radio was a medium of the mind.”

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