The Mid Ohio Valley Players are back with their next offering of social distance theatre this Friday, August 7 at 7:00 p.m. MOVP invites you to join them on Zoom for an evening of “remember when” for their latest installment of WMOVP Radio Theatre. This week, they present a classic radio comedy, The Life of Riley, “The Riley’s First Date.” Vanessa Rake who plays young Peg Riley promises an evening of laughs and fond remembering. “Each show we do keeps getting better and better as we learn new techniques to bring these Zoom shows to the screen. The Life of Riley is no exception and I can’t wait for our audience to laugh along with our telling of how these characters met.”
First aired in 1950, the episode tells the story of Riley’s first date. As with most things remembered, the versions of events are often recalled in very different ways. We get to see both sides of the story as Riley (David Scheimann) and Peg (Erin O’Neill) try to help Junior (Maeghan O’Neill) have the courage for his own first date by recalling their own first date with each other. Nathaniel Maciag as Young Riley and Vanessa Rake as young Peg leave us laughing as we learn the real story of that first date. A number of other characters bring the story to life and audiences will see new faces as well as some of the WMOVP regulars.
The outreach for WMOVP Radio Theatre has been more than Founding Director Suzanne Walker ever imagined. “We wanted to find a way to provide some entertainment to the valley during a time of isolation and to give our local talent a creative outlet, but it has been so much more.” Becca Buck, this week’s director shared what it has meant to her and others, “If it wasn’t for the Mid-Ohio Valley Players during this pandemic, I am sure that I would have lost my mind. Being able to connect with friends and putting our best foot forward into doing something we love is such an awe-inspiring experience.”
“Social Distancing Theater may not be an ideal way for us to create the illusions that theater brings to life, but it is what we have and now what we know,” said Buck. “With each new production we are finding new ways to entertain our audiences, we are being pushed outside of comfort zones, we have overcome several technical difficulties, but in the end we have each other. We’ve become closer than ever because of this pandemic. What you see at showtime is not just a bunch of strangers in different boxes hoping that we make it through a performance; no, what you see is a family that has gone through hardships and found a way to continue seeing each other and doing what we love the most.”
The social distance theatre format has also provided an outlet for family connections. Erin O’Neill, who plays Peg, explains, ‘My 14-year-old had a major opportunity to attend a highly competitive and well-renowned theater camp in Michigan this summer and it was canceled due to COVID-19. Being able to connect remotely with an audience – and our friends – has been something we both can look forward to and enjoy doing together. Our family has been involved in MOVP since the 1970s and I so appreciate everyone’s efforts to not only keep our community theatre on the minds of our patrons, but to offer an outlet for us to get together and do what we all love. Plus it’s interesting having my daughter play my son.”
The technical challenge of doing theatre on Zoom has also allowed local actors, directors, and technicians to grow. Kirk McCall, as Digger, the undertaker, has enjoyed the challenge of doing social distance theatre, “What we’re learning in the COVID/21st Century Theater is that the Fourth Wall has a new dimension. It tests the actor’s breadth and depth in ways we never imagined in the pre-COVID world.”
MOVP veteran Mack McHale agrees. “When Life gives you lemons, we make lemonade with a twist. This unique and terrible time has made us adapt our love of theatre and the need to provide for our treasured audience family to do this odd thing. Social distance theatre is our twist. We may be either sweet or tart in our productions I’m sure that we leave you satisfied.”
To view the live performance, join on the webinar link this Friday, August 7 at 7:00 p.m., or call in to hear the audio at 301-715-8592 or 312-626-6799, Webinar ID: 936 2677 9110. If you are unable to join in for the live performance it will be available on the Mid Ohio Valley Players, Inc. Facebook page beginning as a premier video on Saturday, August 8 also at 7:00 p.m.
As COVID-19 cases are once again on the rise and social distancing continues to keep theatres closed the Mid Ohio Valley Players are committed to bringing family entertainment to the Valley. MOVP President JR Wells asks our faithful patrons to help us get the word out so that others know to tune in.
“We are thrilled to be able to do this for the area. But now is the time that we need the area’s help as well. Unfortunately, as a non-profit, our revenue comes 100% from ticket sales and sponsorships. If you enjoy the shows please donate or think about being a sponsor. Every little bit helps us pay the bills.” Anyone interested in sponsoring a show please contact Suzanne Walker at email@example.com.
WMOVP Radio Theatre will return on Friday, August 21, at 7:00 p.m. with a new offering of a radio mystery premiere! Stay tuned for more details.