October 30 § Bishop Planetarium
(Bradenton, FL) Little Grey Hat Productions will stage a re-enactment of the Mercury Theatre on the Air’s historic 1938 broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” in a live performance at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 30, in the Bishop Planetarium at the South Florida Museum, 201 10th Street West, Bradenton. Tickets are $20, and available at the door or at www.southfloridamuseum.org. For more information, call 941-746-4131, ext 31.
Thanks to Little Grey Hat Productions, the Martians will be invading Bradenton, just in time for Halloween. Don’t be alarmed. It’s just a live recreation of the 1938 radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds.” Produced and directed by Dylan Jones, the performance stars Ross Boehringer, Marty Fugate, Dylan Jones, Allen Kretschmar, Matt Quick, and Scott Vitale. These six actors will play a host of roles to bring the magic of a live radio show to the planetarium environment. This experience will also be enhanced with visual projections and sound effects on the planetarium’s state-of-the-art Bose audio system.
Jones gives full credit to the small army of talent involved, both onstage and off, for making this happen.
“We’ve got Ringling College graduate, Hunter Thompson, creating dome animation, local filmmaker and artist Austin McKinley designing some amazing posters, JB Tomlin from Incompass Sound building an immersive soundscape, and actors of all ages from the Tampa Bay region fleshing out the characters with their voices. Seeing all these different components come together is incredibly exciting!”
Jones points out that the upcoming performance is both a recreation of and homage to the original 1938 radio broadcast. The back story? Orson Welles (a 22-year-old prodigy at the time) had adapted H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” for the then-cutting-edge radio format. Welles’ original army of talent—the Mercury Theatre on the Air—brought it to life. “The result was widespread panic,” says Jones. “Despite the evidence to the contrary (and common sense), people believed that Martians really were invading New Jersey. Welles had so vividly mastered the radio form, he convinced his listeners these events were happening now, in real time. When you see our performance, you’ll notice how we wove that particular historic fact into our production, to give it a little something… special, for Halloween.”
Jones lists Orson Welles as “one of his personal heroes.” He believes that, “Live performance can’t live in the past. Welles took advantage of the possibilities of new media in 1938. With all due humility, I intend to do the same in 2014.”
New media, including the possibilities of a planetarium. That had been the story last year, when Little Grey Hat Productions staged its first performance, the musical “The Last Five Years,” at the Bishop Planetarium. According to Jones, “The response was so tremendous we immediately began brainstorming what to collaborate on next.” The capabilities of the planetarium’s Digistar 5 Dual Projector made an out-of-this-world show like “War of the Worlds” seem like a natural choice.
“If you’re tired of haunted houses and loud Halloween parties, this is a great alternative,” says Jones. “It’s a family-friendly event with audience participation. It’s also educational. Who knows? If the Martians ever do invade, you’ll know exactly what to do.”
About Little Grey Hat Productions
Little Grey Hat Productions LLC formed in spring 2014 to present diverse and unconventional theatrical experiences in unique locations. The company is rooted in the Sarasota-Manatee area and believes that the enlightened regional theater audience deserves something meatier than the usual fare. For more information about the company, visit www.littlegreyhatproductions.com.