Montezuma-Cortez schools can’t allow people into their auditoriums for live performances because of restrictions that aim to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
So high school theater director Nicholaus Sandner and his students are transporting stories to listeners via radio waves on various stations and the mchsdrama.org website.
Friday evening kicks off the start of The Shadow, with two more episodes on Saturday and Sunday.
The Shadow is the second radio episode to air from the Montezuma-Cortez High School Drama Department.
The Shadow is a crime-fighting character from the 1930s and ’40s, created to be a mysterious radio show narrator. Writer Walter B. Gibson developed The Shadow into a literary character in 1931.
On Sept. 26, 1937, The Shadow, a new radio drama based on the character created by Gibson for a pulp magazine, premiered with the story “The Death House Rescue,” in which The Shadow was characterized as having the power to cloud men’s minds so they could not see him.
The Shadow can control peoples’ minds and force criminals to confess misdeeds.
“My students say it has a very Scooby-Doo feel to it, and I agree,” Sandner said.
The character has been featured in comic books, comic strips, television shows, video games and feature films.
The episode airing Friday, Saturday and Sunday follows The Shadow as he investigates a ghostly appearance in town.
The episodes are prerecorded by the high school actors, and Sandner’s advanced theater class created and recorded the sound effects. Another student wrote and recorded music for the radio show.
“It’s been really fun,” Sandner said. “The students are having a great time.”
About 30 students are involved, with about 10 of them in each radio drama, he said.
Students are also directing the radio dramas and taking on roles they haven’t experienced before, Sandner said. Many of his students did not know what a radio drama was.
Voice acting has proved to be a new challenge for students. Before, students could act with body language on stage in addition to their voice, Sandner said.
But students have been “excited about exploring with their voice,” and one student has expressed interest in pursuing a voice-acting career because of the radio dramas the school is releasing, Sandner said.
“I could see us doing this in future years,” he said. “It’s fun to bring a history back.”
The radio series began last weekend with an episode of Gunsmoke, an American western radio series.
Next weekend, the Drama Department will air an audio performance of Buck Rogers, thought to be the first science fiction radio show.
The series comes to a close Halloween weekend with a modernization of War of the Worlds, which originally aired on Oct. 31 in 1938. When listeners first heard the program over the radio decades ago, people thought something was really happening because of the realistic news program and music introduction, Sandner said.
The high school director does not expect a similar reaction from current audiences of their modernized take.
Those interested in listening to the performance of The Shadow should tune in to KRTZ (98.7 FM) at 6 p.m. on Friday; KVFC (AM 740/92.3 FM) at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday; and KSJD (91.5 FM) at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Listeners can also access the performances at mchsdrama.org by clicking on the link to the podcast.