I swear, I’m not on the Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society (MORLS) payroll, I’m just a really big fan of theirs. When I started The Stages of MN it was because I wanted to share my love for the live theatrical experience. It was born specifically from two shows I attended in the spring of 2019, Minneapolis Musical Theatre’s production of Be More Chill and Theater Latte Da’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Both of those shows I enjoyed so much that I attended them multiple times, each time bringing other people with me. These were shows that gave me so much joy that I had to share them with others. I knew that if I didn’t bring them, they were going to miss out, if I didn’t tell them about it, they wouldn’t even know it was happening. I wanted to find a way to share with more people the joys that were to be had from actually being in person at a live show. As I thought about the idea of starting a blog I also looked around at audiences and noticed a couple of things. First, they skewed old. Second, some of the more creative things I was seeing were not well attended. Over time as the site has grown and I’ve met and interacted with my peers, I’ve been introduced to more and more theatre companies and stages and have found that some of the best shows are ones I never would have heard of as a casual theatergoer. And so, when I find a performer or Theater Company that I really connect with, it reminds me of why I started this in the first place, and I want to share them with people. I especially love finding those shows that can appeal to all audiences and that I can feel confident in encouraging parents to take their children to, so that new generations discover theater in a positive way that makes them want to continue to attend throughout their lives.
The MORLS is one of those groups that hits a lot of the buttons that align with my mission. I love these monthly appearances at Park Square Theatre. The performers for these shows are Eric Webster, Joshua English Scrimshaw, Shanan Custer, and Tim Uren. Once a month they perform live a double feature drawn from old time radio scripts. While acting out multiple voice rolls, the four also create all of the sound effects and music cues live, creating theater of the mind. I’ll frequently close my eyes for stretches and just listen and let my imagination create the visuals. These performances are always entertaining, the stories that held audiences glued to their radios in some cases more than 80 years ago, frequently still have the same effect. But besides the stories it’s also fascinating to see how these shows were produced all those years ago, it’s a view into a different time when radio was to people what TV is today. I always like to encourage parents to take their kids to these shows and talk about the experience on the way home. Whenever possible bringing the grandparents and kids, can you imagine what that car ride home would be like? The grandparents reminiscing about the old days but in a way the grandkids could relate to and have at least in the moment and interest in. My Dad introduced me this theater of the mind first through cassette tapes of Bradbury 13 a radio adaptation in the mid early 1980’s of Ray Bradbury stories. Once I was hooked, We listened to cassettes found at book stores and gas stations of shows like Suspense! and The Inner Sanctum. I, in turn introduced my kids to Bradbury 13 and others, and now through these wonderful performances by the MORLS at Park Square Theatre.
This weekend’s performance is on Sunday June 26th at 2:00 PM the title of the show is “More Best of the Worst” and the the description of the show from their website is:
The Society brings you two more frightening flops from the Golden Age of Radio; stories so delightfully absurd you have to hear them to believe them!
“Battle of the Magicians” from Lights Out (1934) – What do magicians, airplanes, and zombies have in common? Absolutely nothing. But logic is no defense against this madcap mystical mash-up from the mind of legendary radio writer Wyllis “Quiet Please” Cooper.
“The Cup of Gold” from Dark Fantasy (1942) – A sports reporter’s investigation into the death of a golf pro leads to a series of shocking revelations! Scott Bishop’s murder mystery turned Surrealist manifesto will keep you guessing (or at least scratching your head) until the bitter, inexplicable end.https://www.ghoulishdelights.com/
If you enjoy these performances or want to have some idea of what you are getting into before you buy tickets,. the MORLS also have a podcast which you can find wherever you listen to podcasts by searching for The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society, there are over 250 episodes with new ones being added all the time or click on their website in the quote above. Those podcasts are different from the live shows in that for the podcast they chose one old radio show episode for which there is an existing recording they play the actual broadcast recording and then they come back and discuss whether the show stands the test of time, if it’s a classic, and if it is of historical interest. They also engage in some funny banter, which is the shows secret charm and keeps you listening to episodes even if you don’t care for a given program, what they say about it will be worth the listen. Aside from this they also perform other types of shows, recently they finished a run at Open Eye Theater with a show called Rattus Rattus which was staged performances of two different stories that featured rats. I attended that and brought a group of friends along and we all enjoyed it. This was my first time seeing Webster, Scrimshaw, and Uren perform not just as voice actors and I thought they were great! Uren opened the show with his one man show called The Rats in the Walls which was a vocabulary junkies wet dream. How Uren managed to retain and recite that script, filled as it was with entomological antiquities, was a wonder to behold. The second was an adaptation of one of the all time great radio plays Three Skeleton Key.
For tickets to either attend live or stream this Sunday’s performance got to either https://www.ghoulishdelights.com/ or https://www.parksquaretheatre.org/box-office/shows/2021-2/mysterious-old-radio-listening-society/
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