The River Getting Theatrical
By Chris Holden, for 88.7 The River
Listeners are about to be taken on a journey through time.
On Sunday evening (April 15), 88.7 The River will air a very special and unique presentation. In association with the Grey Wellington Theatre Guild, listeners will hear an original broadcast of the radio play Haunt Me A House.
The play was originally aired more than 60 years ago on NBC radio out of New York.
“Long before television, after dinner, families would sit in front of the radio to listen to all kinds of shows,” station General Manager Rob Mattice explained. “Comedy shows, plays, even TV shows like Gunsmoke got its start on the radio.”
Haunt Me A House is set in 1947, a period when the real estate market was booming. However Larry, played by Mount Forest’s Brian Campbell, and his wife are having a hard time trying to sell this particular home. There are rumours around that the house is haunted.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do ever since I came on board here at the River,” Mattice said. “It’s always been on my bucket list to get done. It’s the first time we’ve done anything like this. I haven’t heard about any stations doing it in forever.”
About six months ago, Mattice said he bounced the idea off members of the Grey Wellington Theatre Guild.
“They were keen, we were keen, so it was just a matter of finding a script and making it happen.”
One of the guild members narrowed down a field of contenders, and Mattice chose Haunt Me A House.
“I was looking for something that would take you back to that time,” he said. “When you read the script, you can envision the stuff happening, and the characters. It’s kind of cheeky and funny.”
Just after Christmas, the crew set about seriously getting work done on the project.
The cast includes Campbell, Caroline Woolis, Patrick Raftis as Schultz, Jacon Beiman as Wilbur, Maija McCahery, and Mattice as the announcer.
“We met in Harriston at the theatre a few times for run throughs,” Mattice said, “then we did a full-blown rehearsal at the studio with the microphones on. Then we add on the final sound effects, add in all the music – it sounds really cool.”
The full radio play runs around 40 minutes.
To add to the nostalgic effect, the ads for various sponsors during the show were also recorded with that 1940s feel.
“We, myself, along with members of the guild, produced original 40s-style commercials,” Mattice said. “The sponsors really embraced it. We got a title sponsor, Fallis, Fallis and McMillan Law, and associate sponsors Quality Homes, and John Thomson of Royal LePage RCR Realty in Mount Forest. Plus a whole list of others.”
Production on the project went so well, Mattice said he’s interested in tackling another radio play in the future.
“I thought it was a fantastic experience,” he said. “It came together very well. The actors did a great job, and it’s a different beast, acting with voice only – no body language, no facial expressions, and I think everyone did a fantastic job.
“If we get positive feedback, we’d definitely do it again,” he said.
There is even a possibility of the group getting together to put on a live version at the Harriston Town Hall Theatre somewhere in the future.
“It would all depend on feedback, so we’re asking people to send us note to firstname.lastname@example.org, or send us something on our Facebook page,” Mattice said.
Haunt Me A House is scheduled as a one-time airing at 6 p.m. this Sunday (April 15), only on 88.7 The River!