By Kathryn Kopchik
LEWISBURG, Pa. — The Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell University will present a double-bill theater production of "War of the Worlds" and "The Lost World," styled as a live studio radio broadcast and performed by L.A. Theatre Works, on Friday, March 27, at 8 p.m. Tickets for the performance are $20.
"Here are two masterpieces of science fiction and adventure performed by recognizable West Coast sci-fi and television actors in the rip-roaring, thrilling, chilling and melodramatic manner that we think of as the high-point of radio dramatics," said Bill Boswell, executive director of the Weis Center.
"The show recreates the breathless pace and convincing details of 'War of the Worlds,' which caused a nationwide panic in 1938 when Orson Welles adapted and presented the H.G. Wells science-fiction story over the radio as it were actual breaking news happening in New Jersey. This production is a recreation of that broadcast as it happened in the radio studio.
“The work by the two Wellses, H.G. and Orson, is paired with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's kind of campy adventure tale 'The Lost World,' which follows a scientific expedition back in time," Boswell said.
John de Lancie, who played Q on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," will direct stage, film and television actors Diane Adair ("Babylon 5" and "UFOria"); Josh Clark ("Star Trek Voyager," "Heroes," "ER" and "L.A. Law"); Kyle Colerider-Krugh ("Primal Fear," "Numb3rs" and "Without A Trace"); Peter McDonald ("Becker," "Wings" and "ER"); Kate Steele ("Matchstick Men" and "Frasier"); Tom Virtue ("Star Trek Voyager" and "Seventh Heaven"); and Kenneth Alan Williams ("ER," "Will and Grace," "Chicago Hope" and "The Jamie Foxx Show").
"The story and themes of 'War of the Worlds' may be sobering, but watching the actors recreate the behind-the-scenes world of that historic 1938 broadcast is a lot of fun," said L.A. Theatre Works producing director Susan Loewenberg. "Audiences can expect to see all kinds of amazing things happen on stage – including the actors creating all the sound effects themselves. They use all sorts of things you would never expect to make all kinds of crazy sounds."
Mother of all space invasions
Recreating the breathless pace and convincing details of Orson Welles' infamous radio broadcast, L.A. Theatre Works makes it clear why H.G. Wells' "The War of the Worlds" is truly the mother of all space invasions.
Originally performed by Welles' Mercury Theatre of the Air, the 1938 live 60-minute broadcast of an "eyewitness report" of an invasion from Mars caused a nationwide panic.
The broadcast used an updated adaptation of the original 1898 book authored by one of Welles' writers, Howard Koch, who changed the time and location from Victorian England to a small town on the East Coast of the United States in 1938 making the story more personal for listeners. This fascinating piece still resonates today as concerns swirl around such issues as our environment and protecting our border.
Travel back in time
Scorned by his colleagues after making the extraordinary claim that prehistoric animals exist and that he has seen them, Professor Challenger leads a harrowing four-person expedition through the remote jungles of South America to settle once and for all the validity of his claim.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's campy adventure "The Lost World" follows this scientific expedition deep into the Amazon jungle -- and back in time.
Cut off from the outside world on a primeval plateau, the fearless explorers ride the rapids and dodge whizzing arrows to discover a place where dinosaurs have evolved beside ape-men and the fate of the human race hangs in the balance.
For more information about the national tour of "War of the Worlds" and "The Lost World", visit www.latw.org.
Tickets for this Weis Center series performance are available in person from the Campus Box Office in the Weis Center weekdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., or at the Bucknell University Bookstore on the ground floor of the Elaine Langone Center weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For advance tickets, call 570-577-1000 or visit www.bucknell.edu/Boxoffice. The box office in the Weis Center lobby opens one hour prior to performances.
The 2008-09 season of Weis Center Events is generously supported by grants from the Bucknell University Association for the Arts and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Additional support for the series is provided by numerous and generous private donors.
Contact: Division of Communications