1940s nostalgia reigns in 'An Elgin Old Tyme Holiday Radio Show'
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The holidays and 1940s-style nostalgia go hand in hand in the Elgin Theatre Company's "An Elgin Old Tyme Holiday Radio Show."
The production is designed to transport audience members to the days of radio drama.
The show opens Friday, Nov. 10, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 19, at the Elgin Art Showcase, 164 Division St., eighth floor. Tickets are $15-18 and available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (847) 741-0532.
Director Julie Price chose three radio dramas for this vintage-style show -- two shorter ones and one long one.
"The short ones are 'Archie Andrews' Christmas Shopping' and 'Fibber (McGee) Paints a Christmas Tree White,'" said Price. "I think a lot of people from the older generation will remember these. They were on the radio for years."
The production will also feature the classic "Miracle on 34th Street" as the longer play.
"It started as a film first and then they made it a radio show six months later with the same leading cast members," said Price, who lives in Palatine.
"These work well together and they're going to be fun and appealing to all ages," Price added.
"I think they will get a big kick out of the period theme," said Elizabeth Dawson of Elgin, who plays a store clerk in the Archie vehicle. "It's set and costumed in the 1940s and it's a unique type of entertainment."
The staging is different from a regular play. Cast members step up to the microphone as they stage their scene and sit back down again when they're done. They are essentially playing actors who are putting on a radio show.
"It's going to give the audience a taste of what a real operating radio station felt like," Price explained. "We can have the same type of behavior the actors had. We can have Foley artists making all the sounds. We'll have music there and a nice holiday setting from that era."
"Seeing this level of performance live is an interesting mix between a play and a completely different form of entertainment than anyone is used to," Dawson said. "It's almost like seeing behind the scenes."
"It's an old-time radio show, so for people who had an experience with that back in the day, there'll be a great nostalgia factor with that," said Ben Calhoun, 14, of Palatine.
Calhoun is playing Archie Andrews, the same Archie who comes to life on the current CW Network show "Riverdale" and has been featured in cartoons and comics from the 50s onward. Although some may be surprised to see Archie's adventures began in the 1940s, Calhoun was not.
"I heard the radio 'Archie' come up in conversation over the years," he said.
Dawson is a jack-of-all-trades with the production, along with acting as a floorwalker in the Archie Andrews story, she is "in charge of footsteps" in the sound effects department, which isn't as easy as it may seem.
"It's not about marching in place, it's about getting the timing right, being careful of what the actors are doing and saying," she said.
Dawson is also helping build the set, which will be all decked out for Christmas.
"I'm working hard to make sure everything has a Christmas-y feel," she said.
Calhoun believes the play is a good fit for families.
"There are funny moments and heartwarming moments," he said.
"It's like the beginning of the holiday season," Price added. "And it's a fun thing for the entire family to go to; different generations sharing these things."