With regular theater productions off the table for many local troupes, some are turning to the old-fashioned radio dramas.
iTheatre Saratoga collaborated with several other local theater companies to create two radio dramas and release them via Bandcamp. Proceeds from sales will go to support collaborating companies like the Lake George Dinner Theatre, The Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate NY, Theatre Voices, The Ghent Playhouse, Sand Lake Center for the Arts and others.
In the last few months, some actors and groups have done live readings or virtual performances while theaters have been largely closed. Yet, iTheatre decided to take a step back in time and opt for a different format.
“We realized ourselves as theater artists, that opportunities right now are so far and few between and I think for the most part it is about making your own opportunities in this day and age . . . We viewed it as ‘Here’s a torch we can all carry,’ ” said Will Severin, chairman of iTheatre Saratoga.
“A Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a Halloween-esque mystery, was the first radio drama to be released.
“We always like to offer something for Halloween. Being that we can’t actually do any physical productions, we figured this was a cool way to keep the tradition going,” Severin said.
The storyline follows what happens when a headless body is found in the woods outside of Sleepy Hollow, reawakening superstitions and fears in the village. Washington Irving helps Aaron Burr and his associate Clara in deafening Abraham “Brom Bones” Van Brunt, who might be responsible for the death of Ichabod Crane some 20 years earlier.
While the characters may be familiar, the story is an original work by Mary Jane Hansen, iTheatre’s artistic director. The cast is led by Broadway and film veteran Jeff McCarthy, who plays Aaron Burr, as well as Severin, who plays Washington Irving.
To record the dramas, the cast of more than 20 had to come into the studio separately. It was a challenge to weave each part together.
“It becomes like an intricate puzzle in knowing basically what you need to get from each actor and then even getting a variety of reads based on the fact that you don’t know the reads you’re going to get from other actors that they’re supposed to be interacting with. It’s crazy,” Severin said.
The second radio drama was a little easier to record. “Kunstler” has only two cast members: McCarthy, who plays the lead role, and Keona Welch, who plays Kerry.
“In that instance, they were actually together in the same room, socially distant,” Severin said.
The production is directed by Meagan Fay and it focuses on the career of William Kunstler, the controversial civil rights attorney.
Both radio dramas are fully scored, mixed and mastered by Chris Theis and Severin. “A Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Kunstler” are available on Bandcamp for $13 each. For more information or to purchase visit itheatresaratoga.org.