WHS Drama Club presents “An Evening of Radio Theatre”

On Jan. 4, the Walpole High School Drama Club’s Fall Production An Evening of Radio Theatre,became available for viewing online. The Drama Club performed a variety of purely auditory skits with various sound effects. Performers were socially distant onstage and were able to maintain the distance by a lack of typical staging, instead performers merely walked up to a music stand downstage when their character had dialogue. Some skits include a murder mystery, an attempted robbery and a variety of radio advertisements in between. 

“I loved that we could perform on stage at a safe distance with masks on,” said senior and lead actress Gina Destito. “It was so great that despite the challenges we could still all work together to create such a beautiful show.”

Students rehearsed twice a week and had assigned seats where they were able to remain socially distant. The final performance was filmed by TV production teacher Peter O’Farrell. 

“The biggest challenge was definitely attendance. We would have in person rehearsals where if you didn’t feel comfortable being in person you would be allowed to join via Zoom. We had a tough time with in person rehearsals due to illness and contact tracing but we pulled through in the end,” said Destito. 

Radio theatre began in the 1920s and increased in popularity throughout the early twentieth century until television became a staple in American households. In the twentieth century when a plethora of digital entertainment services are available, radio entertainment has obviously declined; however, a few radio dramas are still popular on the BBC channel as well as a few other stations. Audiobooks have also increased in popularity and are more widely available than radio dramas as services such as Audible provide access to audiobooks. Radio dramas offer a more theatrical take with sound effects and a variety of voice actors to tell a story. The WHS Drama Club utilized special effects such as loud stomping, a suspenseful melody, a rotary phone, knocking or even a kissing sound to help tell the stories.  Senior Caroline Gebhardt played piano as accompanist and in one skit, sophomore Stephen Bond played the violin. 

“I was excited to play piano for the radio show, as it was a new challenge learning new genres and improvising on my own to fill sections,” said Gebhardt. 

In the past, the Drama Club has performed a variety of plays and musicals, most recently Love Rides the Rails,” but also “Cinderella,” “Spelling Bee” and others. Typically, the Drama Club performs a musical in the fall and a play in the spring, but this year they are planning on performing the musical “Seussical” in the spring. If COVID protocols allow for them to sing inside they will produce a recorded performance but if not, they will perform and rehearse outdoors. 

“I think rehearsals were done very well both virtually and in person and everyone felt safe during them,” said Gebhardt. “Hopefully there can be a full musical sometime in the spring using some of these new ideas/techniques!”

The complete show can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlU5dyAA9mg&feature=youtu.be