GOLD BEACH – The Ellensburg Theater Company takes audiences back in time to 60 years ago when radio shows were still popular.
Two episodes of programs were presented – “Aunt Martha and the Baseball Game” from the “Father Knows Best” comedy series, and “The Voice on the Wire” from the “Inner Sanctum” mystery series.
Unlike the time when the programs were aired, however, audiences were able to see the action, including a live musician (Karen Pratt), the actors at the microphones and the sound effects people (George Farnsworth and Bev Taylor).
Both episodes were performed in their original 30-minute lengths, including the advertising. Unlike today, all of the ads, one each at the beginning, middle and prior to the program’s epilogue, took up no more than two minutes of programming time.
The performances are directed by Valerie MacGillivary and produced by Susan Baczik. Stage manager is Farnsworth and Rick Baczik is the sound and light technician.
The performances at the Rogue Playhouse began with the “Father Knows Best” episode, which originally aired April 26, 1951.
In this performance, the Anderson family is dealing with baseball fever. When Jim, the father (David Pratt) learns that his son, Bud (Mike Daley), had won tickets to a baseball game in a raffle, Jim first chastises his son for gambling, but then changes his attitude when he learns that Bud was planning to take his dad along.
When the Andersons learn that Jim’s Aunt Martha (Beth Jensen) was coming to pay a visit, on the day of the baseball game, Jim’s wife, Margaret, has no intention of entertaining the woman. Jim convinces Margaret (Laurie Meredith) that Martha will probably want to spend most of her time visiting her old friends, and figures he may be off the hook and heading to a game.
The Andersons daughters, Betty (Alayna Brand) and Kathy (Sarah Daley) even contact the local newspaper’s society editors after learning that Martha’s friends are upstanding members of the community.
All plans go awry when Martha had no other plans except to visit the Andersons, and Jim and Bud devise a new plan to get out of the house. However, even this plan goes afoul and it’s Martha who gets to go to the game.
In the end, the Andersons do get to be in the newspaper because Martha threw a bottle at an umpire.
Also in this performance, as well as in the “Inner Sanctum” episode, is Ralph Scheeler, who plays the announcer.
“The Voice on the Wire” was first aired Nov. 29, 1944, and is a mystery thriller involving a couple, Dr. Preising (Don Woods) and Geraldine Reeves (Donna Hailson) who find themselves trapped on an island after the only bridge is washed out. There they hear a dog howling (performed by Scheeler) although the only dog was killed in a house fire that claimed the life of its owner as well.
Meanwhile, Geraldine receives phone calls from a mysterious person (Mike Daley) telling her she only has four hours, then three, then two, and one, to live.
Soon two friends, Harvey Reeves (Daley) and Laura Reeves (Geri Kendall) show up, but the mystery begins when they claim the bridge is not washed out as they had just crossed it.
As unexplainable events continue, the story becomes a mystery as suspicions arise that the man killed in the house fire was murdered, and during the night, one of the guests dies.
What happens next? This will have to be learned by attending a performance.
Two performances remain, at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 3 and 4, at the Rogue Playhouse, 94196 Moore St., Gold Beach. Tickets are available at the door.