Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play

Many thanks to playwright Joe Landry for sending me details of “Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play“, which premieres at the Legacy Theatre, Atlanta, GA on October 17th.

“Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play” is an evening of radio play adaptations of three early films directed by Alfred Hitchcock. In “The Lodger,” a landlady suspects her mysterious new tenant may be a serial killer. In “The Lady Vanishes,” a young woman on vacation triggers an international incident when she tries to track an elderly friend who has disappeared. And, finally, in “The 39 Steps,” a man falsely accused of murder races across Scotland handcuffed to the beautiful blonde who turned him in. These stories come to life in the style of a 1940s radio broadcast, with five actors playing dozens of characters, live sound effects and musical underscoring.

2 Responses to Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play

  1. I bet this will be great…. Lots of luck Joe. When it opens in CT, I’d love to see it.
    “Break a Leg!”

  2. Here’s a review from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

    Radio dramas are delightful
    By Wendell Brock

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Wednesday, October 22, 2008


    “Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play”

    Grade: B

    8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. 3 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays. Through Nov. 2. $15-$25. Legacy Theatre, 1175 Senoia Road, Tyrone. 404-895-1473,

    Bottom line: The master of suspense is celebrated in three well-crafted radio plays.

    The drag of a boot and a cane across a step suggests the ominous approach of a mysterious Victorian-era boardinghouse tenant. Oh dear, is this the serial killer who has a penchant for pretty blonde hookers? Could it be … (dramatic organ music inserted here) … The Avenger?

    Good evening and welcome to “Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play,” playwright Joe Landry’s delightful evening of radio dramas devised from three early films by that imitable master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.

    Here, through the genius of an old medium, a hard whack on a piece of tin becomes an ominous clap of thunder on a dark London night, and the twinkling of crockery puts us in the mood of a veddy English tea.

    Imagined as a real-time 1947 broadcast from Manhattan radio station WBFR, the Legacy Theatre world premiere transforms the Tyrone stage into a well-oiled machine of actors reaching for noise-making props while portraying a nerve-shattering array of characters in varying states of fear, anxiety, panic and murder. (Dave Dorrell plays the urbane airwave wit who narrates this night of horrific nights.)

    For his Hitchcock radio hour, Landry —- author of the wildly popular “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” —- pays homage to the famous filmmaker’s “The Lodger” (a silent film from 1927) “The Lady Vanishes” (1938) and “The 39 Steps” (1936).

    While “Wonderful Life” has the advantage of being a familiar holiday story, the Hitchcock pieces traffic in labyrinthine plot twists and 11th-hour revelations, which gives this nimble ensemble a vigorous workout and requires the audience to pay rapt attention.

    “The Lodger” traces the terror wrought by a ghoulish boardinghouse tenant (played by Legacy artistic director Mark Smith) on a cockney couple (Amy Bridges and Dustin Lewis) and their comely blonde daughter Daisy (Tracy McBurnett).

    “The Lady Vanishes” is an espionage tale involving the disappearance of chirpy train traveler Miss Froy (Bridges) and the ingenue who befriends her (McBurnett). “The 39 Steps” is another spy-themed odyssey doubling as a romantic caper; only this time we get a carnival act called “Mr. Memory” and a parade of corpses that refuse to stay dead.

    Directed by Smith and featuring musical accompanist Connie Keesal, “Vintage Hitchcock” is a showcase of consistently top-notch performances. Though Smith can be a little too caricaturish at times, Bridges is spot-on, and Lewis is simply magnificent.

    However, you may find yourself wishing that the sound effects were a little more vivid and more integrated into the action. (Most of the noise-making gizmos are off to one side of the stage —- why not make them front and center?)

    While Hitchcock wouldn’t be Hitchcock without plot puzzlements and subterfuge, some moments feel a little fuzzy, and “Lady Vanishes” and “39 Steps” are so similar as to almost blur.

    Nor does Landry get a chance to develop the backstories and public personae of his radio thespians. (Would probably make the show too long.)

    Yet as the piece finds its rhythm, these minor quibbles that can be easily tweaked. For now, the 3-year-old Legacy Theatre puts itself on the national map with an exciting premiere that exploits the aural magic of this tingly film auteur.


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