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Oct. 27, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – The night was black and thunder rang out after cracks of lightning. In the darkness, footsteps creaked old floorboards while rain pounded on the roof. They heard a knock at the door and shivers slid down their spines as their heads turned to see…
“Mountie Mystery Theatre” revives the golden age of radio. In lieu of a play, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Eastern Oregon University theatre and music departments performed and recorded four spooky stories for listeners. Gather around the radio at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29 for “The Black Figurine of Death,” and “The Haunted Crossroads,” then come back at the same time the following evening for psychological thrillers “Kill, Kill, Kill” and “The Wages of Sin are Death.”
Professors Peter Wordelman, Luke McKern and Kenn Wheeler joined forces to create and produce the radio shows with theatre and choir students just in time for Halloween.
“I wanted to come up with something dramatic, something that the kids could do that wouldn’t mean rehearsing and presenting it to a live audience,” said Wheeler, who teaches acting and theatre at EOU. “So I came up with this idea for radio plays like the old-fashioned kind that they had back in the 1940s.”
Plans have been in place for the event since summer, and the department had to find ways to abide by CDC regulations regarding a music production during the pandemic.
“When I had originally envisioned it, I thought we would be able to record them like they used to with four or five mics and everybody would step up to the mic,” Wheeler said. “But when we realized that the restrictions here on campus are not just social distancing, but social distancing and masks, we had to figure out how to do it with masks.”
So each speaking cast member was equipped with a specialized choir mask (singer’s mask) that allowed for clearer sound and less muffling. An array of masked students were also on set to help with sound effects.
“We got everyone involved in some way, shape or form… We did have one recording session prior to this where we recorded the theme song one day and some group sound effects,” said Wordelman, who teaches music and directs the EOU choir. “We recorded wind, we recorded the ‘guilty/not guilty,’ the crowd yelling and angry mobs.”
Music and music technology instructor Luke McKern produced the shows. His students helped create vintage radio ads for the production by enhancing them and inserting sound effects like jingles or gong noises.
The four hour-long shows will broadcast over a two-night period with two episodes an evening, starting at 7 p.m. on Oct. 29 and Oct. 30. The shows will be broadcast over Supertalk Radio 1450 AM and will also play on supertalkradio.com.
The performances will be posted to the EOU YouTube Channel, along with still images of production and short video clips, after the shows have aired.
To learn more about EOU Theatre productions, visit eou.edu/theatre.
By PR Intern Emily Andrews
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