TUNKHANNOCK — The Dietrich Theater Radio Players will feature radio play comedies for their free spring performance at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 7.
Seventeen performers, one of the biggest ensembles yet, will perform four episodes from radio episodes of the 1930s and 1940s, including episodes from Boston Blackie, the Great Gildersleeve, the Easy Aces and a surprise for the audience called “A Day at the County Store.” This free performance aims to recreate a form of entertainment popular before the advent of television, video games, cell phones, and computers.
A reception immediately following the performance provides a chance to meet the cast and enjoy a celebratory cake.
Three of the episodes were parts of series, 30 minute or sometimes just 15 minute episodes. One of those series in the 1940’s was Boston Blackie. Blackie, a jewel thief and safe cracker in Jack Boyle’s stories, became a detective in adaptations for films, radio and television, said to be an “enemy to those who make him an enemy, friend to those who have no friend.”
Boston Blackie is a reformed jewel thief who is always suspected when a daring crime is committed. In order to clear himself, he investigates and brings the actual culprit to justice, sometimes using disguises. An undercurrent of comedy runs throughout the detective series. Although Blackie is saddled with a dim-witted sidekick, The Runt, and doggedly pursued by police Inspector Farraday, he always manages to pull himself out of the mess he is in.
The Great Gildersleeve, another series, was a radio situation comedy broadcast from 1941 to 1957. It was one of broadcast history’s earliest spin-off programs, built around the character Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, a regular element of the radio situation comedy Fibber McGee and Molly. In Fibber McGee and Molly, Gildersleeve had been a pompous windbag and nemesis of Fibber McGee. “You’re a haa-aa-aa-aard man, McGee!” became a Gildersleeve catchphrase. The show grew so popular that it spawned a new series featuring the somewhat mellowed and always befuddled Gildersleeve as the head of his own family.
The series Easy Aces, a long-running American serial radio comedy from 1930 to 1945, was trademarked by the comedy of creator and writer Goodman Ace and his wife, Jane. She is an urbane, long suffering realtor who is always getting her words mixed up.
A 15-minute program, airing as often as five times a week, Easy Aces was not the ratings hit that such 15 minute serial comedies were, such as Amos ‘n’ Andy, The Goldbergs, Lum and Abner, or Vic and Sade. But its conversational, and clever style, and the absurdity of its storylines, built a loyal enough audience of listeners and critics alike to keep it on the air for 15 years.
For free tickets, call 570-996-1500 or get them at the door.
Information provided by the Dietrich Theater.