Live Radio Dramas' "Lights Out" airs at Fairfield University's Quick Center for the Arts November 20-21


"Live Radio Dramas"Old-time radio is back with a vengeance at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts with the popular series "Live Radio Dramas." The new season begins with vintage programs from the 1930s and 40s series, "Lights Out" starring Keir Dullea and Mia Dillon, Friday, Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 21 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the Wien Experimental Theatre. The Quick Center for the Arts' "Live Radio Dramas" is part of the University's Arts & Minds 2009-2010 series of events. Tickets are $25.

Director Frank Jacoby, founder of Jacoby/Storm Productions, worked on many of the programs and directed the very first televised "Lights Out" in 1949 when he joined NBC's fledgling staff of television directors at the start of what is fondly remembered as TV's "Golden Age." The audience is invited to remain after the show for a discussion with director and actors for a question and answer period and to listen to reminiscences of the early days of old-time radio theater.

Because of its enduring success on radio, "Lights Out" was one of the first live dramas on television," Jacoby recalls, "with actors, sets, lighting, costumes and music. The thirty-minute stories were filled with suspense, mystery and the supernatural." When the show moved to television, the impossibly tantalizing sound effects originally created for the radio shows and designed to conjure up fantastic images in the audience's imagination became obsolete. Gone were the sounds of a crushed hand simulated by squashing a lemon with a hammer on an anvil, broken fingers and bones duplicated by snapping pencils and spareribs and the horror of an eye being gouged out, merely by dropping a raw egg on a plate. But, the new medium of television had its own limitations as Jacoby explains, "This was way before computer graphics and special effects and so we had to do a lot of improvising."

Jacoby will take us back to a time when sound effects, vocal acting and imagination were all that was needed to terrorize an audience.

His recreation of "Death Robbery," the chilling premiere of the series is a horrific story about a scientist (originally played by Boris Karloff) who believes he has discovered how to bring his dead wife back to life ... with unexpected consequences. The next program is the creepy "Sub-Basement," a scary tale about a man bent on murder and his terrified wife, played by Dullea and Dillon. The anguished couple find themselves stuck in the sub-basement of a large department store with a huge monster.

Joining Dullea and Dillon in this all-Connecticut cast of veteran actors are Weston residents Chilton Ryan and Sean Hannon. Kate Katcher is from Sandy Hook. Well-known to Quick Center audiences is Dr. Joseph Utterback, who will play original music on the organ. Veteran sound effects specialist Bart Curtis from Pine City, New York will more than meet the challenge of the many unusual effects called for in the scripts.

"Lights Out" debuted in 1934 on Wednesdays at midnight. It was radio's premier horror series created by writer/director Wyllis Cooper. And it was one of the first radio shows that developed the medium of radio in the 1930s using distinct sound effects and dramas intended to stimulate the imagination of radio listeners. Cooper's scripts experimented with stream of consciousness and first person narration several years before those techniques were popularized by Orson Welles and Arch Oboler, who later took over writing "Lights Out" after Cooper's departure.

Jacoby described his experience on the television show by remembering, "We used some great performers: John Carradine, Burgess Meredith, Robert Stack, Anne Bancroft - even Grace Kelly, whom I cast in her very first screen role.

Tickets are available online at fairfield.edu/quick or by calling the Box Office at (203) 254-4010. The toll free number is 877-ARTS-396. Special offers and discounts are available through the Quick Center's e-mail list. Join, by contacting boxoffice@quickcenter.com. And become a fan of the Quick Center for the Arts on Facebook! Keep up-to-date with the latest performance news, plus special offers and discounts! Find the Quick Center at www.facebook.com/FairfieldQuickCenter.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on November 4, 2009

Vol. 42, No. 114