A scream cuts through the night, thunder grumbles and Charles Gounod's "Funeral March for a Marionette" (recognizable as the Hitchcock theme) echoes eerily across the theatre to inform the audience that Alfred is in the building.
Get ready for an evening of chuckling chills when you pick up tickets to the Dixie Theatre’s professional season production of "Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play" by Joe Landry.
The 1940s period piece is a series of adaptations of three early films directed by Alfred Hitchcock: "The Lodger," "Sabotage" and "The 39 Steps." These stories come to life in the style of a 1940s radio broadcast, with six actors playing dozens of characters, live sound effects and musical underscoring.
The play premiered Oct. 17, 2008 in Atlanta and has become a popular choice for little theatre across the country.
The setting is a sound stage at radio station WBFR, circa 1946. Five microphones, four gargoyles and a few battered armchairs painted with “film noir” lighting are all the props needed to set the mood.
The cast, all members of the Actor’s Equity Association, whisk the audience away to a world of mad bombers, serial killers and spies. Len Pfluger does double duty as actor and sound effects expert with an exotic array of props to trick the ear into experiencing explosions, zoo animals and train rides. Prepare to witness an unusual use for an innocent cabbage.
Snappy character transitions keep the stories moving along.
Apalachicola’s own Cleo Holladay, as always, is charming and uses her versatile vocal chords to portray a cockney shopkeeper, a withered street merchant and plump cook and a purveyor of exotic, if flawed, fowl. Darren Server is especially spooky as the “Avenger.”
Between the three playlets, vintage radio commercials for the Bates Motel and North by Northwest Airlines insert a stab of humor that Hitch himself would have loved.
If you don’t watch the master’s films regularly, you may forget they were as much comedies as thrillers.
Although Alfred Hitchcock himself couldn’t drop in for a cameo appearance at the Dixie, his spirit, or whatever intangible essence lingers of him, is surely smiling at the current production of “Vintage Hitchcock.” - By Lois Swoboda.