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Thu, Dec. 05

Mercury Theater Players bring 1940s radio shows to life

PRESCOTT – Comedies, mysteries, and cop shows were popular American entertainment before television became a staple in nearly every American household, but in the 1940s these shows were on the radio.

Members of the New Mercury Theater Players brought some of those programs back to life at the Elks on Tuesday night with a theatrical performance in which the audience could see the actors recite their roles and perform the sound effects that went with them.

The acting group, formed in May of 2004, took their name from the on-air Mercury Theater created by Orson Welles ("War of the Worlds") and John Houseman.

New Mercury player Carlton Goodwin's deep, throaty voice was perfect for setting the mood for the skits, especially the "Nightmare Alley" series selections.

Goodwin reminded the audience that radio was the theater of the mind in the 1930s and 1940s.

It was a time when board games were new and "a compact disc was a back problem," Goodwin said.

The seven actors played various roles in the six skits, which included an original show "The Case of the Crystal Acker," written for the time period by director Randy Faulkner.

"I kept the flair of the 1930s and 1940s in the story," said Faulkner. "Nazi's were always the bad guys."

Faulkner teamed with veteran local actor Sean Jeralds on two comedy skits, Abbott & Costello's classic "Who's On First?" and "The Horace Greeley Travel Agency."

As a travel agent, Faulkner frustrated and confounded his customer (Jeralds) by not being able to plan his trip and directing him to vacation everywhere but where he wanted to go.

Jeralds was the manager giving Faulkner all the confusing answers in the classic "Who's On First?"

Jeralds, who was last seen on stage in the Prescott Fine Arts Association's comedy production of "It Had to be You," is an accomplished actor, able to handle the variety of roles he played in the 1940s Radio Show.

The show even had old-time advertisements between skits such as Melody Moravec's Lipton tea and Lady Ester face powder commercials.

Rex Ijams, Bert Ijams and Linda Miller did a great job in their respective roles as well.

I found the scary Nightmare Alley skits to be the most entertaining; probably because conjuring up your own images can be scarier than something fabricated in Hollywood.

Jeralds and Ijams were invisible men who couldn't be found or helped after a car wreck in "Can't You See the Possibilities?" and everyone contributed to "The Depot" in which a man (Ijams) finds his missing girlfriend and ultimately joins her – in a painting in a Flagstaff art gallery.

Contact the reporter at tetshman@prescottaz.com

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