Monday, September 25, 2023

Williamsburg Players Pay Homage to the Golden Age of Radio in New Show

The Williamsburg Players’ new show “Mayhem on the Air” brings old-time radio to the stage. (Courtesy of Lee Pettit)

WILLIAMSBURG — The Williamsburg Players will bring a 1940s radio station to life on stage.

The Williamsburg Players’ new show, “Mayhem on the Air,” will run Jan. 27 through Feb. 12 at the James-York Playhouse, 200 Hubbard Ln.

While the local theatre faced challenges this past season with a volunteer shortage and COVID-19 protocols, the Players continue to welcome audiences to experience live theatre.

“Despite the challenges of the current climate, ‘Mayhem on the Air’ is pushing forward, and ready to put a needed smile on the faces of people who could use a laugh,” Williamsburg Players President Neil Hollands said.

Set over the course of a day in 1948 at a radio station, the show sees the actors and production team at the station create shows in five different styles: a melodramatic western, a news program that includes a countdown of top songs, a suspense thriller, a comedy panel show and the conclusion of a serial mystery. 

Between the different programs, the audience will get to know the quirky characters who create the show.

Katy Feldl plays lead actress Venice Darden in the show. (Courtesy of Lee Pettit)

The play, which is written and directed by Hollands, features everything from comedy to romance to suspense. It is also meant as a tribute to period greats, such as Groucho Marx and Katharine Hepburn.

“My show is an homage to a simpler time, and the kind of spirit that could generate great entertainment through human creativity rather than massive special effects,” Hollands said. 

The play also features a range of music composed by music director Rosemary Allmann.

“All of it is backed by what I think of as the ‘rhythm section’ of old time radio, a golden voiced, and sometimes drunken, announcer played brilliantly by Ed Allmann, and live, on-stage sound effects created by foley artist John Trindle,” Hollands added.

Audiences are required to wear a mask while in the building, and the Players encourage attendees to get vaccinated.

Hollands said that those who would like to attend the show in less crowded settings should choose an evening performance, when the theatre currently has more open seats. They can also call the box office to ask about which particular shows have the smallest crowds.

For this production, the theatre has suspended concession sales so audience members will not feel tempted to remove their masks.

Tickets are available on the Williamsburg Players website or through their box office at (757) 229-0431. 

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