I remember childhood summers spent at my grandparents house…lounging in the kitchen on warm afternoons, sipping Yoo-Hoo’s, eating Twinkies, and listening to the ever-so-loud classic radio shows blasting through the AM channels. Granted, I’m a child of the 1980′s, not the 1940′s, so this may seem a bit antiquated. At the time I was probably wishing for the Top 40 tunes of Madonna and Prince, but now that I’m older and wiser, I look back on those hazy dog-days of summer and feel a twinge of nostalgia.
That nostalgia was brought back in full force Monday evening when I sawGotham Radio Theatre’s performance “Redheads and Bohemians“. An original radio play by Sydnie Grosberg Ronga, “Redheads and Bohemians” is based on the “Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sydnie brilliantly weaved together two Sherlock classics: “The Redheaded League” and “A Scandal in Bohemia” to create a mysterious story that’s one part deception, one part humor, with a (large) side of scandal. The story goes a little something like this: Two clients, a redheaded man and a royal Bohemian, lead Mr. Holmes to match his wits with two opponents: the first, the fourth smartest man in all of London, and the second, a woman Mr. Holmes will never forget. It’s all in an evening’s work for Mr. Holmes, or, as he famously says, “Elementary, my dear Watson”.
The show has a unique twist in that the actors and actresses playing the characters in the Sherlock Holmes saga are actually being performed as fictional 1940′s stage and screen stars…making the performance a bit of a “show within a show”. In the program, for example, you have the bio of the 1940′s cast alongside the 2012 cast. Our dashing Sherlock Holmes is played by Charles Napier (who is really played by J.T. O’Connor). Brilliant comedic twist? I think yes!
Tale of intrigue aside, the part of Gotham Radio Theatre that always leaves me pleased as punch is the live sound effects. The talented Jill Ahrold was the sound effects actor for this performance. Between her perfectly timed foley (tea pouring, silverware rattling, horses trotting off into the distance) and her hysterical facial expressions, I was reassured that as long as Gotham Radio Theatre is around, there will always be a place where theater will reside first and foremost as an art form. And in a time when Spiderman has dominated the Great White Way and the average Broadway ticket price is more than your monthly Con-Ed bill, it’s nice to know that there are actors and actresses out there who put their heart and soul into the show, simply because it’s what they love more than anything. I guess that’s what my grandparents were trying to instill in me when they opted for vintage radio classics over Madonna. And for that, I thank them.
By: Jessica Tiare Bowen