‘War of the Worlds’ put on by Fulton Community Theatre

The infamous October night in 1938 that panicked millions of American radio listeners who were convinced that a vanguard of Martians had invaded Earth, will come alive again as Fulton Community Theatre proudly presents Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre On the Air’s adaptation of “The War of the Worlds”.

The staged recreation of the “panic broadcast” about an invasion from the planet Mars will run as a one night only event Wednesday, Oct. 30 – the 75th anniversary of the original CBS radio broadcast.

Curtain time is 8 p.m. on the Jubilee Hall stage of Holy Trinity Church, 309 Buffalo Street, Fulton. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors. Reservations may be made by calling FCT at 598-7840.

The Mercury Theatre script, adapted from H.G. Wells’ original 1898 novel, was penned by Howard Koch, who penned many of The Mercury Theatre’s weekly radio plays.

Under the direction of Orson Welles, the director of the Mercury Theatre, the play was written and performed so that it would sound like a live news broadcast.

As the play unfolded, dance music was interrupted a number of times by fake news bulletins reporting that a “huge flaming object” had dropped on a farm near Grovers Mill, N.J.

The results were legendary. News reports of the time estimated that more than 6 million people heard the broadcast, with up to 3 million people believing that it was real.

Fulton Community Theatre’s production is presented by special arrangement from Koch’s estate.

“The War of the Worlds” is part of a pre-Halloween double-feature that includes another Mercury Theatre script, John Houseman’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, which debuted the weekly CBS radio series on July 19, 1938.

Both plays feature an ensemble cast, which include the talents of: Marlina Beebe, Michael A. Bolio, Zoe Bolio, Doug Carver, Kennith Johnson, Rita LaPage, Michael Otis, Brian Pringle, Derek Potocki, Abel Searor, Adam Schmidtmann and Sabrina Woodward.

The production is under the direction of William Edward White, who will also be playing the iconic Orson Welles.

For White, who is the artistic director of Fulton Community Theatre, bringing a fully-staged recreation of the Mercury Theatre broadcast – which includes live music and sound effects backing actors at microphones – is the realization of a 35-year-old dream.

He was first introduced to the radio script in high school broadcast communications class taught out of the studios of WCSQ FM, the student-run radio station that was located in Central Square.

“We did a studio recreation of the script as a class project. Never intended for air, but I’ve held onto a copy of the tape all these years. Sort as a reminder that someday I need to do this for real,” White commented, adding, “with the 75th anniversary coming up, well, someday is here.”

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