A local pair of playwrights will be debuting their newest work this week. “Radio Daze” by Amy Shojai and Frank Steele of Shojai & Steele Plays will be showing Thursday through Saturday at the Rialto Theater in Denison.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. The doors open each night at 7 p.m. and the curtain will rise at 7:30 p.m.
“This is the fifth play that Frank Steele and I have written together,” Shojai said in an email interview. “We kicked around the concept last March or April, right after the last show ‘STARZ’ closed, but didn’t begin seriously writing until May or June. So it’s been about seven months from concept to stage. That’s scary-fast!”
This show, Shojai said, has been the most difficult to write.
“The last two shows ‘STARZ’ and ‘STRAYS’ were stand-alone scenes and songs we could mix and match and rearrange, and rehearse in blocks,” she said. “‘RADIO DAZE’ actually has an over-arching story-line plotted much like a novel, and each character has story goals, conflicts, and challenges. Along the way, we got confirmations from our dream cast and ended up writing for 12 actors. There are no ‘stars’ as this is truly an ensemble production.”
The script and lyrics were completed by December and the first cast read-through was Jan. 4. The orchestrations were completed by Jan. 15.
“Since we wrote the book and music, we’re able to adjust lyrics, lines or melodies and keys as needed to better fit the actors,” Shojai said. “The original cast has a hand in shaping the final script and score. Yep, some of the actor’s ad-libs make their way into the final script.”
Just last week, Shojai said, she completed the screen projections. At the time, she was still editing the final version and the original cast and production team will be named in the published version of the play.
“Texoma performers rival any I’ve ever worked with, and it’s a joy to work with actors, technicians and directors who challenge us to grow as performers and artists,” she said. “We’re blessed to have area schools (from elementary to college level to private study) offering many opportunities to study and hone theatre craft. Many area churches also offer incredible opportunities for all ages to use God-given talent in a variety of performances. By the time students seek outside opportunities in community, regional or professional theatre venues, they’ve often already had years of onstage or technical experience.”
“Radio Daze” is the story of WPDQ, a failing radio station whose owner, Bob Hope, is ready to sell the business. The station’s crew of characters comes together to save the station.
“From story-telling around the caveman campfire, humans have always enjoyed theatre,” Shojai said. “Humans want to experience the hilarity, the sorrow, the risk, and love through the medium of storytelling. That’s why many of us laugh out loud at the comedies or cry at the sad parts — and then go home, without the cuts and bruises from catching the bad guy. Live performance augments that emotional impact. Rather than a big, distant screen, theatre is intimate, personal, and in some cases, you can reach out and touch the actors.”
Many of the characters in the show have a history with local theater. Steele will be playing the station director Irving, and Shojai will be playing Dizzy. Other actors include Keith Clark, Jenny Daniel, Gil Nelson, M’arty Burkart, Sally Hawthorne, Tammie Sims, Theresa Littlefield, Ben Fuhr, and Herald Democrat news clerk Mark Beardsley.
“There actually are three scenes and songs I can’t wait for audiences to experience,” Shojai’s email said. “Gil Nelson sings a touching folk song MAKE A DIFFERENCE that may bring a tear to the eye (he’s that good!). Tammie Sims and Mark Beardsley sing a duet WHEN I MET YOU that’s absolutely lovely. And finally, the full company number NEWS FLASH is a girls-against-the-guys rousing number you won’t forget! Remember, this was 1949 when ladies weren’t allowed to do some jobs — well, nuts to that!”
The stage manager for the show is Debs Clark, who has directed shows at Butterfield Stage in Gainesville and Kelly Rhoads will be doing light and sound.
“RADIO DAZE is funny and silly, and meant to entertain and leave you happy and smiling,” Shojai said. “For instance, Sally Hawthorne plays The Pepper Sisters (all of them!). Frank Steele returns to the stage after way too many years away and will give the brilliant performance audiences have come to expect. Steven Mildward will surprise and delight the audience with his ‘radio show’ sound effects (he’s still collecting noisemakers). Ben Fuhr will be the salesman to end all snazzy salesmen. Keith Clark and I will do our darnedest to upstage each other. And the cast has put together impressive 1940s style costumes that we may bring back the style!”
For more information, visit http://therialtotheater.net/.