By: Katie Merritt
Cape Fear Community College’s Drama Department will revive HG Wells’ classic War of the Worlds this Friday, October 30, at 8 p.m. In addition to the theater audience, WHQR will broadcast the performance live to their audience of listeners – up to ninety miles away.
CFCC’s War of the Worlds will feature four students in the performance – Jordan Spillers, Seth Lee, Blake Howard and Micah Bryant. Bryant will serve as a Foley artist, creating live sound throughout the show with a variety of props. WHQR’s Production Manager, George Scheibner, will headline the show, playing Orson Welles’ original role that created panic among American radio listeners on October 30, 1938.
Friday marks the 77th anniversary of Mercury Theatre’s radio adaptation of War of the Worlds, which depicts a Martian invasion on earth. Presented as a news bulletin throughout a majority of the broadcast, listeners in 1938 believed the broadcast to be delivering live news updates for an actual alien invasion. Mass panic erupted from the audience, sending Mercury Theatre’s telephone lines into frenzy. In fact, the production staff had to stop the broadcast to remind the audience of the show’s fictional content.
Jack Landry, CFCC’s lead drama instructor and coordinator of the show, expects the broadcast to reach an audience of thousands through the combination of the live performance and the radio broadcast. Not only will this performance and broadcast be a first for CFCC, it will also be the first production performed by students in CFCC’s new Humanities and Fine Arts Center. Landry and his students have prepared for this show intensively since the Humanities and Fine Arts Center opened in the beginning of October.
“The students and I built 24 risers for the audience, hung every light, adjusted speakers, set up the board, built a stage and painted it entirely for this production,” said Landry.
The original script was updated by Landry and the students as well. After receiving rights to perform War of the Worlds, Landry localized the script to include landmarks and communities in Eastern North Carolina. Audiences can expect to experience goose bumps as WHQR and the CFCC team will bring the Martian invasion a little too close to home.
“The goal is, as Orson originally put it, ‘to deliver a holiday present’ to the audience. If we do our job, hopefully a few folks will believe, as the original audience did, that the Martians have landed and are wreaking havoc,” said Landry.
Tickets for the event are $25 dollars for the public and $5 for CFCC students. For tickets or more information visit www.capefearstage.com.