It was on Halloween night nine years ago that Western Carolina University’s radio re-creation group staged the famous 1938 Orson Welles broadcast “War of The Worlds” on its 70th anniversary. This year, the group is returning to the frightful holiday to present “A Sci-Fi Double Feature” highlighting H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine” and Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”
This is the ninth “academic-based entertainment” production mounted in collaboration with three departments and two colleges at WCU. It is under the leadership of director Colin Wasmund, theatre instructor in
the School of Stage and Screen; music director Bruce Frazier, the Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor in Commercial and Electronic Music; and writer and producer Don Connelly, professor and head of the Department of Communication.
The radio show will be staged before a live audience at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31, in the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for faculty and staff, and $5 for students. Proceeds from the event are used to fund scholarships in the participating academic departments.
The show will be presented just as a network radio show was done in the “Golden Age” of radio. “On many occasions, a network radio program was produced in a theater before a live audience for the publicity value. A few years ago, we did a project with the late Arthur Anderson, an original cast member of Orson Welles Mercury Theatre of the Air. He told us in great detail how the shows were produced when outside the network studios,” Connelly said.
“A Sci-Fi Double Feature” will have a live 45-piece orchestra, sound effects and actors, all on stage. Actors in the show include Western Carolina students, staff and faculty and members of the community. The production will be recorded for future radio broadcast.
Frazier, composer as well as music director, created an all-original musical score for the show. The tones and colors of the music highlight the shifting emotions of the drama ranging from action and adventure to an eerie late-night encounter with the Morlocks in “The Time Machine.” For “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” Frazier composed a special theme for Captain Nemo’s pipe organ aboard the submarine Nautilus.
The WCU Artist-In-Residence Orchestra, conducted by Frazier, will provide musical accompaniment for the program. The ensemble represents a partnership between the university and the Asheville Symphony Orchestra in which WCU students play alongside professionals in a collaborative orchestral experience.
The orchestra will open the evening with symphonic masterworks including two Halloween orchestral favorites – Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” and “Danse Macabre,” Camile Saint-Saens’dazzling masterpiece for solo violin and orchestra. Violin solist for “Danse Macabre” is concertmaster Mariya Potapova. The music evokes visions of the witches’ Sabbath, with demons, ghosts and goblins – the coming of the “the day of wrath,” Frazier said. The music will showcase the virtuosity of the ASO strings and the excellent artistic abilities of WCU’s music students, he said.
Funding for “A Sci-Fi Double Feature” is courtesy of WCU’s College of Arts and Sciences, College of Fine and Performing Arts, Department of Communication, School of Music, School of Stage and Screen, and the Carol Grotnes Belk Endowment.
The Oct. 31 show starts promptly at 7:30 p.m. and no one will be admitted after it has started.
The radio re-creation group has raised nearly $40,000 to fund student scholarships over the years.
For more information, contact Connelly at 828-227-3851.