The Granddaddy Of Radio Stories

The Granddaddy Of Radio Stories

‘War of the Worlds’ comes to ACO stage


When Scott Anderson joined with a group of like-minded artists to form the Northwest Arkansas Audio Theater four years ago, it wasn’t a question of if they would perform the H.G. Wells classic “The War of the Worlds” — but, rather, when.

“I’ve wanted to do it ever since we formed up as an organization,” he says, a palpable excitement in his voice. “But I wanted us to have experience before we tried it. It’s the one everybody knows — even people who don’t listen to radio [theater] know what ‘The War of the Worlds’ is.”

In case you don’t: In 1938, Orson Welles directed and narrated a version of his science fiction classic for the Mercury Theatre on the Air. He and his cast did such a convincing job that, according to popular lore, they spurred a widespread panic when the audience that joined the broadcast after the introduction genuinely believed they were hearing the announcement of a Martian invasion in progress.

“It was so well done, some people didn’t realize it wasn’t real,” says Anderson.

Anderson says the experience of producing audio theater for Northwest Arkansas audiences for the last four years has made him feel prepared to take on the “granddaddy” of all audio plays.

“This is my second show as a director, and I learned so much in the first,” he says.

Anderson says he was surprised to find that this particular script required fewer sound effects than previous shows — leaving the impact of the story to the actors’ voices.

“Sometimes, it was harder casting for this show — this story is really carried by everyone’s voices,” he says. “You don’t have as many sound effects as we’ve had before. Another thing that was key in my mind: it would be so easy to make ‘The War of the Worlds’ a campy performance. You could do silly things like take plastic ray guns, and other over-the-top things like that, but we’re working very hard not to do that.”

Anderson says there’s one more way they’ll pay tribute to the original radio production of the show — by commemorating the occasion of the first radio broadcast of the story.

“We’re doing one [additional] evening on the 81st anniversary on Thursday, Oct. 31, at the Arts Center of the Ozarks at 8 p.m.”



Northwest Arkansas Audio Theater:

‘The War of the Worlds’

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. May 17 & 18; 3 p.m. May 19

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

COST — $5-$10

INFO — 751-5441

Categories: Theater