In this time of social distancing, the Mid Ohio Valley Players have decided to bring theatre to the valley since the valley can’t go to the theatre. On Friday, May 1 at 7:00 p.m. MOVP invites you to join them on Facebook Live as they present WMOVP Radio Theatre. For this first installment, they will present two episodes of the classic radio serial Father Knows Best. The first episode is the series pilot, in which older daughter, Betty Anderson, played by Vanessa Rake, shocks the family over breakfast by announcing her impending marriage. Lots of laughter ensues as the both families grapple with fall out of young love. Following a five-minute intermission, the cast will present a second episode featuring Jena Lane Blair as Aunt Martha in Aunt Martha and the Ball Game in solidarity with all of those missing baseball.

Director Suzanne Walker got the idea when her employer Marietta College invited its employees to use their Zoom accounts to help the community stay connected. Walker explains, “The Board of MOVP had been talking about staging a couple of classic radio plays to fill in the gaps in the calendar once we are able to come together again and begin to rearrange the remainder of our season. So, I thought why wait, let’s try it in Zoom.” The cast has enjoyed getting together virtually to rehearse. We’ve been rehearsing three times a week. “Rehearsals are so much easier to plan when no one has anyplace to go,” Walker commented.

I think the audience will enjoy hearing what she has come up with.

Adapting to this new format of doing live theatre has had its challenges. Beth Lane, Sound Designer and operator explains, “One of the fun parts of doing classic radio shows is the sound effects. When we do them on stage we try to create as many of them as possible live. One of the frustrations of working the webinar format is that in order for the audience to clearly hear the sounds we have had to record them ahead of time.” She went on to say that the process of inserting them into the show and working with the actors is not all that different than doing the live theatre performance. Walker praised Lane for her work. “She has done an excellent job adapting to the constraints of the technology. I think the audience will enjoy hearing what she has come up with.”

Vanessa Rake, who plays the Anderson’s teenage daughter has enjoyed being part of the production, “It’s tricky preparing for a show on Zoom. There is the added complication of connection delays, background noises, sound and lighting differences, etc. But I think we have made the most of it. As actors, especially in live theater, we are able to keep rolling with all kinds of bumps in the road. I’m excited to be able to entertain people in a way that is new to our little theater.”

Jena Lane Blair, playing the Aunt, Martha Anderson, agreed, “I’m really enjoying this. It’s less stressful than stage work in some ways. I love the nostalgia of old-time radio. In the stress of our current world, stepping back in time and enjoying characters from a gentler time and the laughing together, it’s good for the heart.” MOVP President Kermit Polan endorsed the project, “We want the community to know how much we appreciate their support – community theatre is nothing without the community. We hope this is a way we can give back a little by bringing some laughter and entertainment into local homes through WMOVP Radio Theatre on Facebook Live.”

Cast List: Father Knows Best – Getting to Know the Andersons

  • Jim Anderson – Jeff Walker
  • Margaret Anderson – Kathy Biery
  • Bud Anderson – Sean Shoop
  • Betty Anderson – Vanessa Rake
  • Kathy Anderson – Amber Smrek
  • Aunt Martha – Jena Lane Blair
  • Announcer – Dyrk Conrad
  • Husband/Pitchman – George Gaston
  • Sound Effects – Beth Lane

Cast List: Father Knows Best – Aunt Martha and the Ball Game

  • Jim Anderson – Jeff Walker
  • Margaret Anderson – Kathy Biery
  • Bud Anderson – Sean Shoop
  • Kathy Anderson – Amber Smrek
  • Betty Anderson – Vanessa Rake
  • Hector Smith – George Gaston
  • Elizabeth Smith – Jena Lane Blair
  • Billy Smith – Dyrk Conrad
  • Announcer – Beth Lane
  • Sound Effects – Beth Lane
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