“A Christmas Carol” Comes To (Radio) Life Today

When NBC presented “The Sound of Music” — the 1st live network television musical since 1959 — earlier this month, the ratings gangbuster boasted a Westport connection.

Former Staples Player Gina Rattan served as associate director.

Today (Thursday, December 19, 1 p.m.), an entire cast of Players participates in another live performance: “A Christmas Carol.”

This one’s on radio. And while the audience is a bit smaller — WWPT-FM 90.3 is the Staples radio station, though it is livestreamed worldwide — the challenges are the same as with TV. When you’re live, you get no second chances. The moment you screw up, everyone knows.

Rehearsing "A Christmas Carol," in front of the microphones.

Rehearsing “A Christmas Carol,” in front of the microphones.

The show is a combined project of David Roth’s Theater 3 and Jim Honeycutt’s Audio Production classes.

The instructors have collaborated before. In 2009, “A Christmas Carol” took 1st place at the Drury Awards — the highest honor in high school radio. Two years later, “Dracula” earned 2 Druries.

Roth and Honeycutt are using the original radio script from the 1930s — the one for Orson Welles and Mercury Theatre

Live music will be performed by 2 quartets of Orphenians.

Even the sound effects will be live: footsteps on gravel, doors opening, and wind (there’s a wind machine).

Students work on a wide variety of sound effects.

Students work on a wide variety of sound effects.

Roth likes live radio theater. “The challenge to my actors is to convey everything through voice,” he says. “They can’t rely on their body or face to convey emotions.”

(Later this school year, they’ll have another challenge: masks. That takes away their faces, so they must use only their bodies to show feelings.)

For Honeycutt’s class, the challenge is to understand how sounds are made — and recreate them, in many different ways.

“A Christmas Carol” is a holiday favorite. Today, hear this old chestnut performed a new way — an old new way.

(Click here for the WWPT-FM home page, with livestream links.)

8 responses to ““A Christmas Carol” Comes To (Radio) Life Today

  1. Yet another Westport gem that Dan has allowed to shine here in his blog…’Tune in today – you’re in for a treat! This is a wonderful arts experience brought to us by our outstanding Theater and Audio Production programs at Staples High School. And, the collaboration between David Roth and Jim Honeycutt truly enhances what their students might otherwise do on their own. Bravo!

  2. I sat in the audience for the entire event and found myself moved to tears with goose bumps on my arms and neck. It was, for me, a more emotional experience than I remember when seeing this story on stage and on the movie screen. For some reason, the voices brought the emotions of the characters to light more intensely than when I actually saw actors acting the roles. Kudos to all of the actors, the students providing the sound effects, to the musicians, those who set up all of the electronics (including the studio sign that told us when to applaud), and of course to Jim Honeycutt and David Roth.

  3. Cathy and Gary Rozynek

    As the parents of one of the actors in this show, both of whom have worked in the radio business for many years, what you describe, Mr. Dodig, is the heart of what radio is – the theatre of the mind. It touches your emotions like nothing else can and it touched our emotions too. Everyone did an amazing job. I especially liked watching the kids working on the sound effects with their hands in shoes to simulate walking, for example. Dan, any chance that you can get specific days and times when they will re-air the show?

  4. Sandy Soennichsen

    Actually, it’s on tonight, December 20, right? NOT Friday, December 19, but Friday the 20th, or is it on tomorrow, the 20th, Saturday?

    • It was on yesterday, as noted in yesterday’s story. See my comment above (reply to Ilene) for a link to listen, in case you missed it.

  5. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    My Father would have adored this. Well done!