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"Arts Garage Radio Theatre" finds the radio plays within classic films

Staff Writer

They are plays, but they were not written for the theater.

They have intricate choreography, but they’re not musicals.

They were not meant to be viewed, but you can see them at Theatre at Arts Garage.

The Delray Beach performance space recently announced a new “Arts Garage Radio Theatre” series that will begin Aug. 15 with “A Star Is Born.”

“Scripts adapted from classic movies during the heyday of radio will be performed live, with performers utilizing specially designed sound-effect devices, providing a nostalgic trip to the past with a modern twist,” says Lou Tyrrell, artistic director of Theatre at Arts Garage. “From Orson Welles and the thrilling Mercury Theatre broadcasts of the 1930s to Guy Noir and the hilarity of ‘A Prairie Home Companion,’ the radio play has been one of America’s most beloved art forms.”

The shows will continue through this year and into 2014 with “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Dec. 12, Casablancaon Feb. 6 and “Sunset Boulevard” on April 3.

The radio plays will be produced by John Watts, executive director of Boynton Beach-based Previously, he staged Welles’ notorious “War of the Worlds” at the Delray Beach Playhouse and the Caldwell Theatre in Boca Raton (soon to be rechristened the Wick Theatre). As part of the ArtSmart program in 2007, Watts did a series of radio plays — “Dracula,” “Treasure Island,” and “A Tale of Two Cities” — at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach that were simulcast on WXEL-FM.

“That really sold me on doing this,” Watts says. “No one else is doing this in South Florida. The problem is that it’s a big commitment, financially and with time. The Arts Garage has done that. They’ve committed.”

Watts says he used scripts from the Mercury Theatre and the Lux Radio Theatre, which was also broadcast during the 1930s.

“I always wanted to do dramatic plays, and I’m not sure why,” he says. “It was really hard to figure out what plays to do. I knew I wanted to do really well-known plays … to show [the audience] a different version of the same story they already know so well. They get to see ‘A Star Is Born’ and ‘Casablanca’ literally right in their face. They get to see how it’s all orchestrated. It’s a totally different experience with the choreography … even though there’s no stage blocking."

Watts continues: "What’s different is that the cast has the scripts in their hand, and they step up to the microphones, and there are special sound effects. The sound effects are another character, like another actor. And like in comedy, timing is everything.”


A Star Is Born

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday Aug. 15

Where: Arts Garage, 180 N.E. First St., Delray Beach

Cost: $15 in advance, $20 at the door

Contact: 561-450-6457 or


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