In a period of time where there are no movies in theatres, no concerts in halls, and no plays on stages, Townsite Actors Guild has found a radio drama that allows actors to stay true to the original material while at the same time respectful of the COVID-19 protocols keeping everyone safe.
Sorry, Wrong Number, written by Lucille Fletcher, is just that material, where there is no physical interaction between actors, only a series of telephone calls.
Founded by Stephen and Stephanie Miller three years ago, Townsite Actors Guild has produced professional, cutting-edge theatre in Powell River with such shows as The Last Flapper and Steve Martin’s Meteor Shower.
Sorry, Wrong Number lives up to the high standards of live theatre the guild has set for itself and is proud to present to the audiences of Powell River, according to the Millers.
Adapting to protocols of self-distancing, the actors in Sorry, Wrong Number will never actually face each other in person. All the telephone conversations that weave the suspenseful murder/drama together will be through virtual interaction.
“Don’t think for a second that this new technology has dampened the creative brilliance of this piece,” said Stephen. “If anything, the tension and anxiety is further amplified through the silence of the moments, the tones of the voices and the urgency of the situation.
“Through the escalation of the main character’s fear and the twisted circumstance of events, we, the listener, are taken on a ride that will have all of our senses on a precipice of what might happen and the fear of the unknown.”
Based on the original blockbuster 1943 radio drama starring Agnes Moorehead, this production is being performed by nine local Powell River actors including Bill Garrett, Barb Oliver, Nicole Narbonne, Jeremy Buhay, Doug Sutherland, Sarah McClean, Pat Rowe, Stephanie Miller and Stephen Miller.
Oliver, coming off of playing a major role in Meteor Shower last year, plays a tough go-by-the-rules operator.
“When I heard that Sorry, Wrong Number was going to be a radio play, I jumped at the chance to play the operator, a la film noir style,” said Oliver. “The 1940s was a very empowering decade for working women, and I admire how seriously my character took her job as a switchboard operator.”
Taking the reins as director, Stephanie Miller was intrigued by the suspense and empathy in the drama.
“I loved the idea of how the vulnerability of the main character is developed; although you can’t see any of the characters you can imagine who they are,” said Stephanie. “The radio play is character driven and it is the words and actions of each character that add to the suspense.
Stephanie said the most interesting thing about these characters is they are all flawed.
“We meet each character at their job; each of their jobs require efficiency,” added Stephanie. “Because of their desire to do their job properly, there is a rigidity to their efficiency. This in-the-box thinking adds to the suspense of the play.”
Since there are no ticket sales, and most of the costs of a theatre production are still incurred, Townsite Actors Guild has created a GoFundMe account where all proceeds from donations will be split equally between CJMP 90.1 FM and the guild.
“A small donation will go a long way in helping cover costs of production,” said Stephen.
Sorry, Wrong Number is being presented by CJMP community radio on Saturday, June 27 (8 pm); Tuesday, June 30 (7 pm); Saturday, July 4 (8 pm) and Tuesday, July 7 (8 pm). Readers can tune in on their radios or listen live online at CJMP.ca.