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.
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).
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.)