A live radio re-creation of Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre of the Air’s first broadcast.
Sponsored by McMenamins Theatres and Pubs
The Willamette Radio Workshop presented a live re-creation of the Mercury Theatre of the Air‘s first radio broadcast, Dracula, by Bram Stoker adapted by Orson Welles. This was the latest installment in a series of performances, started on Halloween, 2001 with the wildly successful War of the Worlds presented at CoHo Theatre to standing room audiences.
2002 found the WRW bringing the ultimate story of the supernatural to the McMenamins Empire. First published in 1897, the novel Dracula by Irish author Bram Stoker has never been out of print. It has been reissued in over 300 editions, including dozens in foreign languages. The figure of Count Dracula has dominated twentieth-century culture, from movies to cereal boxes to radio.
Cast: Mark Homayoun, Scott Jamieson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Bryan Mackey, Atticus Welles Mowry, Sam A. Mowry, Chris Porter, Mark Twohy and Emily Young
Sound Design and Live Foley:
John Martin Gallagher, Robert Kowal and Amy Gray
Tuesday, October 29th, 2002
KBOO 90.7 FM Portland, OR
Courtesy of Stage & Studio with Dmae Roberts and Emily Young
Thousands of years ago, a secret was buried deep beneath the sands of Egypt – the secret of eternal youth. Now, Dr. Clyde Evans seeks to unearth that secret. His expedition will travel to the deadly River of Souls in search of the legendary tomb of Imhotep. In his unnatural quest, Dr. Evans will risk
not only himself, but the lives of his friend, Reginald Bonhoffer, and his financier, the beautiful Victoria Neeferts. They have the hunger for knowledge, but do they have the strength to resist The Call of the Mummy?
Willamette Radio Cast and Credits
Mark Homayoun – Reginald Bonhoffer
Atticus Welles Mowry – Dockworker, KBOO announcer, Live Foley
Scott Jamieson – Dr. Clyde Evans
Mary Robinette Kowal – Victoria Neeferts, Cluna
Sam A. Mowry – Voice on the Wind, Announcer
Mark Twohy – Live Organ
Producer – Robert Kowal
Director – Sam A. Mowry
Sound Design – Marty J. Gallagher
Special Thanks: KBOO, Emily Young and Dmae Roberts
Willamette Radio Workshop gets ready for some Halloween broadcasts of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”
BY PAUL DUCHENE Issue date: 10/25/2002
Orson Welles’ radio career is inextricably linked with “The War of the Worlds.” This 1938 production of the H.G. Wells sci-fi story caused widespread panic when its broadcast was thought to be actual news bulletins of an alien invasion.
But “Worlds” was actually Welles’ 29th show with the Mercury Theatre of the Air. He’d been doing radio dramas since 1936, and for a year he was the main character voice in “The Shadow” radio serial.
He would go on to produce and act in more than 100 additional dramas before Hollywood beckoned in 1940.
Sam Mowry’s Willamette Radio Workshop group successfully revived “War of the Worlds” last year at Halloween, filling the CoHo Theatre in Northwest Portland for a midnight performance.
“We had 50 no-shows, and it was still full — thank God they didn’t come,” he says.
This year, Mowry’s crew is tackling Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” which Welles adapted in July 1938. They’ll perform it live at the White Eagle Saloon, McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove and the Kennedy School in the days leading up to Halloween.
“Welles got the rights to it at the last minute — he was going to launch the season with ‘Treasure Island,'” Mowry says. “He and John Houseman sat in an all-night cafe cutting up seven copies of the book and gluing pages together to make the script. They argued around the clock for 36 hours, eating and drinking the whole time, then dropped off the pages at the typing pool and left Welles’ secretary to pay the bill.”
Mowry follows up with a prize-winning piece of trivia about English theater manager Bram Stoker, who wrote the story in 1897 and made vampire a household word. Vampires continue to enthrall 100 years later, immortalized in movies and television.
“Bram Stoker was (actor-impresario) Henry Irving’s stage manager, and one of the first things he did was offer Irving the play of ‘Dracula,'” Mowry says. “Irving wouldn’t touch it, and many people believed that it was because the character of Dracula was based on him.
“Think about it,” Mowry says. “We accept the idea of vampires, but when the story was written, nobody knew what they were. Here’s this great story: Basically, a real estate salesman goes to close a deal in Eastern Europe — and instead this evil is loosed on the world!”
Welles’ script runs 55 minutes and can be heard online at http://www.scifi.com/set/playhouse/dracula/ though it’s not a high-quality recording. But the adaptation rushes along, with foley sound effects creating the atmosphere of doom.
Radio drama is a very mobile production, Mowry says.
“It’s not like theater, where you have six weeks of rehearsal and a six-week run,” he says. “Here we can do five shows with a cast of 12. It takes a half-hour to set up a one-hour show and a half-hour to break it down. The sound equipment is the biggest thing.”
And Halloween horror stories are perfect for radio drama, Mowry says. “It’s the power of suggestion. Everybody carries their own private hell with them.’
Contact Paul Duchene at email@example.com.
ORSON WELLES’ ADAPTATION OF BRAM STOKER’S “DRACULA”
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26
Where: White Eagle Saloon, 836 N. Russell St., 503-282-6810
When: 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 27
Where: McMenamins Grand Lodge, 3505 Pacific Ave. Forest Grove, 505-992-9533
When: 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31
Where: The Kennedy School, 5736 N.E. 33rd Ave. 503-249-3983
The Willamette Radio Workshop in conjunction with CoHo Theatre presented Orson Welles’ production of H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds The 1938 “Panic Broadcast” This was a live recreation of the original broadcast that shook a nation on the brink of war. The script, a loose adaptation of H. G. Welles SCI-FI classic by Howard Koch (who went on to write Casablanca) tells the story of Martians invading the Earth.
The program was presented as a series of live news feeds that created a touch of realism by breaking into a placid evening of dance music. Although the program clearly stated at the beginning and at the half way point that it was a radio drama, most of the country was tuned into the Chase and Sandborn Hour with Edgar Bergen and Charley Macarthy, the most popular radio tandem in the country. However, Nelson Eddy was the musical guest that night and when he began to sing a couple of not-too-popular songs, the radio audience began to spin those dials, coming into the War of the Worlds broadcast after the disclaimer. The subsequent panic, from listeners who took the radio play for real, traumatized several cities across the eastern seaboard. It is important to note that no one was killed or killed themselves, but rumors of such activity spread as fast as the rumors of Martian invasion. The ensuing notoriety made Orson Welles a star and showed the devastating power of radio in the new age of mass communication.
WRW’s 12 actors, using live foley sound effects, live music and a plethora of old school analog audio magic sought to reproduce the excitement and drama with a production faithful to the spirit of ” live Radio.” The sell-out crowds to WRW’s production of War of the Worlds enjoyed take a look at a vibrant entertainment medium and this opportunity to look back at the best Halloween prank ever pulled on the American Public.
If you haven’t seen live radio, you ain’t heard nothing yet.
Willamette Radio Cast and Credits
Sam A. Mowry – Orson Welles / Professor Person
Chris Porter – Carl Phillips
Mary Robinette Harrison – New York Announcer
Solomon Grundy – Announcer #2
Amy Gray – Wilmuth
Margie Boule – Announcer #3
Mark Twohy – Operator # 5
Mark Homayoun – Stranger
Tim McKennie – Announcer #4
Jodi Eichelberger – Mercury Announcer/Captain Lansing
Special Thanks: CoHo Theatre, Gary Cole, Liane, The Cast and Crew of Spinning into Butter, Amy Gray, Marty Gallagher, Cindy McGean, Atticus Mowry, Michael Gandsey & T2 Audio and all our family and friends that make our work possible.