Sounds Like Halloween

Sounds Like Halloween

Audio Theater presents 1940s version of ‘Dracula’


The combination of spooky tales with audio theater is the perfect marriage, says Peter Gaskin, director of the Northwest Arkansas Audio Theater production of “Dracula.”

“It combines the two things I love the most — old-time radio and the horror genre,” he explains enthusiastically. “The best mediums for horror are the ones that limit your senses, where you can’t see what’s going on — you have to use your imagination. I think audio works so well for that. You can’t see it, so you have to imagine it in your head, and that’s where the voice work comes in as an actor.”

Gaskin has no problem speaking from the actor’s point of view: He first worked with the company last year when he portrayed Dr. Frankenstein in its Halloween production of “Frankenstein.”

“I had so much fun doing that show, I’ve been involved with them since,” says Gaskin.

The Audio Theater troupe presents audio plays on stage — making the scripts they choose important for the success of the production. This “Dracula” is an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel written by playwright Philip Grecian.

“I think [Grecian] has a really good sense of the medium, what is interesting to audience members and what they’re expecting to hear,” says Gaskin. “Not only is he able to adapt an original novel in a way that still feels like the original novel, he understands sound effects and when they should come in — like the thunder and the wind. He places them in a really good spot. You have to have a really good understanding of radio to create a really clear soundscape for the audience.”

The conceit of this production is that “Dracula” is an audio play being performed in the 1940s, live and on stage. The characters’ costumes will reflect that time period, as will the commercials that play during the radio show.

“We’ve written original commercials mimicking the format of the old horror radio shows,” says Gaskin. “It’s a lot of fun.”

In an audio play, says Gaskin, the sound effects are crucial — and take a lot of pre-production preparation.

“The biggest draw for audio theater is the live sound effects,” he says. “In this show, the sound effects are center stage. We have a great thunder sheet; we’ve built a wind machine, and it’s wonderful. The bat flapping its wings against the windowpanes — there’s so much going on. It’s been really hard to coordinate all of the sound effects, but now that we’ve got it down, it’s so fun.”

Gaskin says the play is fairly family friendly and estimates the scary content is appropriate for kids as young as 12.

“It’s a lot of fun for the older groups as sort of a nostalgic thing. But it’s also great for kids, because there’s a lot of humor involved, and it’s a lot of fun for the kids to see how the sound effects are produced.”




WHEN — 3 & 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27; 3 p.m. Oct. 28

WHERE — Arts Center of the Ozarks, 214 S. Main St., Springdale

COST — $10

INFO — 751-5441

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