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Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014
Northeast News

Florida College performers present ‘Hitchcock’ radio play


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TEMPLE TERRACE — Members of the Tampa Bay Booster Club of Florida College’s Stage Right Theater Company will bid its audiences an Alfred Hitchcock signature-style “Good e-v-e-n-i-n-g” as the performers re-create three of his earliest films in a most unusual fashion.

“Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play” will be performed on stage at 7 p.m. Oct. 31, Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 in the Puckett Auditorium at Florida College, 119. N. Glen Arven Ave.

Tickets for the adult-oriented production are $15 and may be purchased at the door. Proceeds will go toward scholarships for students aspiring to attend Florida College.

The show’s announcer/narrator Ralph Walker and cast of seven — Brian Harber, Charlotte McPeak, Doy Moyer, Miranda Nerland, Joe Rose, sound effects artists Alan Siedenstrang and Priscilla Thompson — are all graduates of the private, Christian-based Florida College.

Each actor plays multiple roles in playwright Joe Landry’s adaptations of the legendary Hitchcock films titled “The Lodger,” “The 39 Steps” and “Sabotage.”

“The Lodger,” a 1927 silent film, is designed to keep audiences on the edge of their seats as British detectives desperately attempt to track down the Avenger, a serial killer on the loose in London. In typical Hitchcock fashion, the man has two conflicting sides to this character. He is both irresistibly charming and exceedingly dangerous.

The 1935 “The 39 Steps” thriller is about a man in London who tries to help a counterespionage agent prevent an organization of spies called The 39 Steps from stealing top-secret information. The agent is ultimately killed and the man is targeted as the key suspect.

As a result, he and his female companion go on the run to save himself and put an end to the spy ring. The story is an example of how Hitchcock often infused romance and playfulness into ultraserious matters.

“Sabotage,” filmed in 1936, is the eerie portrayal of a Scotland Yard undercover detective who is on the trail of a cinema owner and saboteur who’s involved in a plot to set off a bomb in London. The detective sets up shop in a building next to the man’s theater to observe his behavior and that of his wife and her teenager brother, who have no knowledge of his wrongdoings.

As the plot thickens and the detective declares his love for the cinema owner’s wife, once again there is a weaving of romance into a riveting story with deadly consequences.

Walker, the recently retired Florida College director of alumni and public relations director, came up with the idea of such a production after seeing an Agatha Christie radio play in St. Petersburg.

“I kind of like the challenge in this for the actors because the voice is everything,” he said. “I also was intrigued in how they created all the sound effects,” said Walker.

He’s hoping audience members also will get caught up in how certain sounds are manufactured.

Sounds effects creator Siedenstrang demonstrated how popping a balloon can imitate the sound of a gunshot, how rubbing a brush against a washboard is characteristic of a chugging train, and hitting a shoe against a cutting board can elicit a noise similar to a person’s walk.

“We gather things that sound like whatever sound we need,” said Siedenstrang, a pianist and 2009 graduate who teaches math and chorus at Foundation Christian Academy in Valrico. “Because I play the piano I can hear the rhythm and create the sound probably better than most.”

Director Madeline Wilemon said the production cannot be likened to anything else she’s led or acted in.

“It’s intended to be a radio presentation so it can be tricky when playing to an audience that is visual,” said Wilemon, a Florida College graduate who majored in music and works as an administrative assistant in the college’s public relations office.

Priscilla Thompson and Brian Harber play the lead roles in “The 39 Steps.” She teaches fifth grade at Florida College Academy and he is an art director at a marketing firm.

“It’s just really fun to get on stage and entertain people. This one presents a bit of a challenge because of all the accents we’re required to use,” said Thompson, who’s performed in other productions at the college.

Harber said even though he could simply read his lines as if he were doing a radio broadcast, he finds memorizing them a better option.

“It’s because it allows me to fully emote my words,” said Harber, who is also a seasoned actor.

What he finds challenging is being able to perform after sitting out during the times when other actors take the lead in the production’s two other stories.

“It’s sometimes a struggle to keep the adrenaline going,” Harber said. “But it’s an exciting production of three really good stories that will take you on a great ride.”

Email Wilemon at wilemonm@floridacollege.edu or call her at (813) 988-5131, ext. 194, for more information.

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