Radio is a homegrown effort from start to finish. The show you see has never been performed by any other group at any other time. The list of writers, directors, and other contributors is often as long as the list of cast and crew. In fact, at some point in the process every cast and crew member has made some contribution to the final product, be it a suggestion for how to arrange a song, a funny spin on a line in a script, or an entire script or jingle.
We start in about March by calling together a small group of volunteers to brainstorm ideas for that year’s show. The group is generally made up of people who have been heavily involved in the show in a previous year. They come to the meetings with concepts, song suggestions, script plots, and names for crazy products for the jingle singers to sell. We always have far more great ideas than there is time for in the show. Our most difficult task is to pick a dozen or so songs and four or five script ideas to work on in more detail.
Our second greatest challenge is to come up with something a little different each year to keep the concept fresh. One year we had ballroom dancers on stage with us. A couple of years ago we added commercial jingles. Another year we sent the audience to a sister station in Wheeless Oklahoma for the second half of the show to bring in a country influence. We never want the show to be completely formulaic.
Over the summer, our music director tracks down arrangements and our writers develop the scripts so we have nearly final drafts ready to go in time for auditions in September. Nothing is final until the show is cast, and even then nothing is ever really final. One of the best things about writing the show ourselves is that we can make changes to take advantage of talents that emerge in rehearsals. One of my favorite Radio bits was the twin sisters in the first episode of Marshall Barnett. Originally, the script called for one young girl, but we had two talented young actresses and couldn’t decide which to cast. The director cast them both and had them say the lines together. They were absolutely delightful. Another year the actress we had cast as Peaches’ sister Honey in an episode of “Joe Tanner” had to leave the show partway into rehearsals. We considered bringing a new actress into the cast, but instead we had the actress playing Peaches play Honey as well. It was great fun for us and for the audience to see her switch back and forth between two voices, sometimes conversing with herself. We couldn’t have planned those moments any better.
Do you have ideas for this year’s show?
We’re interested in your song suggestions and original sketches. For more information about how you can be a part of creating ”Radio VII”, read the call for scripts/music at http://www.fcponline.org/radio_call_for_scripts.htm. Deadline for submissions: May 31, 2010.