Amy Okamoto

Imagine a time when we didn't have instant access to news and entertainment, a time before the internet and television. Envision a time when Americans would gather around their radios to hear news and entertainment. The Norfolk Community Theatre is to experience this for ourselves in their latest production, “The War of the Worlds.”

The NCT’s upcoming production will transport us back to 1938 when the radio adaptation of H.G. Wells’ classic was first broadcast to enthralled listeners, some of whom, despite earlier announcements, failed to realize that the simulated live newscast was a drama.

Adapted by Howard E. Koch, the script is the original 1938 broadcast narrated by Orson Welles. The play focuses on the telling of the story’s production rather than the portrayal of events in Wells’ script.

THEATRE-GOERS will be treated to a day in the life of a 1930s radio station, complete with actual news reports and commercial jingles from the era, along with the performance of Wells’ radio drama.

This is the directorial debut of veteran stage actor Ashley Brown, who said the performance offers some unique aspects not traditionally found in NCT stage productions.

For example, foley artists, who are the sound effects specialists, are normally off-stage. In this adaptation, the foley artists appear on stage alongside the actors, providing both the sound effects for the recreation of the radio play and the theatre’s production itself.

Another example ­— the original 1938 broadcast was read directly from script. Brown hopes to recapture that performance’s spontaneity by having her actors read from the radio script as opposed to memorizing the lines of the teleplay.

The script for the piece is unique in that it offered no stage direction, leaving it open to interpretation. The production team researched news and media of 1938 to ensure the historical aspects of the period are properly represented. The show is prop-heavy, and most cast members will remain on stage as part of the ongoing background action rather than breaking it up into focused scenes.

THE CREW hopes to immerse the audience in the historical atmosphere of the time. Contributing to this is the pre-show production written by production manager and NCT Artistic Director Adam Peterson, which offers the audience a look inside the culture of the time.

Northeast will be broadcasting the performance on its airwaves as well, further lending to the story-within-a-story feel. The entire production runs about an hour and a half.

This is the final production of the NCT season. The NCT is run by volunteers and welcomes all interested community members. The easiest way to get involved with a production is to come to an audition.

There are opportunities to get involved regardless of your interest ­— from backstage to production to acting to front-of-house. Audition times are listed on their website at nctheatre.org.

“The War of the Worlds” debuts on March 5. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or through the NCT website. For those wanting to help out or attend a performance, a great option is the theatre’s volunteer exchange.

If you volunteer to serve as an usher at a performance, you receive a complimentary ticket to another performance.

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