Suspense at Stratton
By Julia Sarcinelli
onstage in the Stratton Players’ production of “Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play,” opening this Friday.
“It’s going to be more of an experience between the audience and actors because they’ll act as if they’re in a live studio with them,” said Joshua Weidenhamer, chairman for Stratton Players and producer for this production.
“I always liked how he filmed things,” he said of director Alfred Hitchcock. “He filmed people to look glamorous and elegant, and I appreciate all those things about his films, and those are true in this play.”
“Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play” is showing at Applewild School, 120 Prospect St., Fitchburg, this and next weekend. Show times Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.
The play is a view into a live radio show circa 1946 in Boston or New York City as Hitchcock’s films “The 39 Steps” and “Sabotage” are portrayed with some pauses for commercials between the storytelling -- it is on the radio, after all.
“What’s interesting about his films is, they were always done as radio shows as well, so sometimes when you get the nicer DVDs, they’ll have B-sides with the radio version,” Weidenhamer said.
He said himself and a few other members of the Stratton Player’s production team are fans of the director’s films and when they came upon this play, they found it interesting. The set is minimal, with a few chairs and tables accompanied by some “applause” or “on-air” signs to accompany the vintage microphones and costumes.
“It’s as if you showed up somewhere to an event and you happen to see this,” Weidenhamer said. “It’s like something a child in the suburbs would be listening to at night on the radio.”
Accompanying the cast is live music by Leandro Dasilva on piano, while sound is coordinated by Tom Powers, sound designer and operator.
“We’re using actual, hand-made sound effects that we have or have collected,” Weidenhamer said. “We even have an old refrigerator we use for a car door.”
Douglas Cooper is coming on as the director for his first production with the Stratton Players. He is the artistic director and president of the Nashoba Players in Westford and has contributed to theater the region for nearly 45 years as a producer, director, scenic designer and administrator.
In 2017, the Eastern Massachusetts Association of Community Theatres honored Cooper with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
“It’s cool to have another chairman direct. Our whole season is made up of chairmen,” Weidenhamer said, adding that the whole season is directed by chairmen of community-theater programs. Weidenhamer himself directed the October show, “Men On Boats,” Cooper is directing this one, and Ed Knights, president of Theatre III in Acton, will direct “Anne of Green Gables.”
As a kid, Weidenhamer was kind of a “wannabe” film buff.
“When I got into film, I would go to the library, and they always had a lot of old Hitchcock movies from those old VHS days and I would check them out,” he said.
He said he always liked how you were never sure what was happening during the suspenseful mysteries until the “big shebang and big reveal” that always left you shocked.
“It’s what it would be like to view one of those radio shows from back in those days. It’s true to form, and Applewild is a nice place for it,” Weidenhamer said.
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Leave the winter cold outside and treat yourself to color and fragrance during Worcester Art Museum’s annual floral extravaganza, Flora in Winter. The entire museum, located at 55 Salisbury St., will bloom with flower arrangements inspired by works of art. It’s open Thursday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Non-members pay $22 per adult, $6 per youth, during exhibition hours.
The Winchendon American Legion Post 193, 295 School St., will hold its annual Bonfire and Fireworks Display on Saturday, starting at 5 p.m. The event is free. Hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages with peppers and onions will be served for an additional price until 6:50.
The Vanessa Collier Band returns to The Bull Run Restaurant, 215 Great Road, Route 2A, Shirley, on Friday at 8 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m., for dinner and seating. Collier, 27, is a master musician and multitalented blues performer with charismatic charm and passionate and fiery performances. Tickets cost $20.