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Review: Vintage Hitchcock at Richmond Hill Players

Buckle up, Buttercup! It’s time to jump into Richmond Hill Players “Way Back Machine” where you’ll be magically transported to the Golden Age of Radio via its current production of Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play by Joe Landry. Landry is prolific in this genre and his works also include live play adaptations of It’s a Wonderful Life, The 39 Steps, and A Christmas Carol, as well as his original work, Reefer Madness.

Full disclosure: I was once a member of an acting troupe that performed old radio classics at senior citizen venues throughout the Quad Cities and surrounding area and am an unabashed addict of the Radio Classics channel on Sirius XM. Accordingly, I admit that I was really looking forward to attending this show. I can honestly – and without bias – say that I was not disappointed.

Landry has taken three of the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock’s, classic films: The Lodger, Sabotage, and The 39 Steps and expertly adapted them for radio. Director Jonathan Grafft has, along with set builders Mike and Jim Skiles, recreated a very authentic looking, circa 1940’s radio studio.

A three men and three women ensemble cast consists of RHP veterans Larry Lord, Greg O’Neil, Mike Kelly, Lorrie Lord, Elizabeth Shaffer, and newcomer to this stage, Leigh Van Winkle. They each play multiple characters within each play alternating lead roles between them. A seventh character is the sound effects guys who I learned were referred to as Foley Artists back in the day – and you want to pay attention to them. You’ll find they add more than just sound to the show. The eighth character is….YOU! You are the “live studio audience,” so keep your eye on the “Applause” sign.

All three of these scripts take place in Great Britain which presents a bit of a challenge. Accents and/or dialects are not Larry Lord’s or Mike Kelly’s strong suits. However, their talent trumps that trick and they both bring in strong performances. Where accents challenge Larry and Mike the same can’t be said of Greg O’Neill who not only mastered his roles, he also mastered multiple dialects within British accents.

Not to be outdone, all three women ace their accents and, in Lorrie Lord’s case, that includes a Southern belle who has married a Brit and moved to England with him. Van Winkle, in particular, shines in all her roles in every aspect and I hope to see her more in the future.

I can’t emphasize enough the addition of the Foley Artists who pull off some hysterical stunts made all the more funny by their deadpan delivery and it’s actually really interesting to see how the sound effects were created back in the early days of radio. I was especially impressed with the method for reproducing the sound of igniting a gas lamp and it spurred quite a chuckle from the audience.

Whether or not you’re a silver-haired patron, you will find this show well worth seeing.

Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play continues Thursday through Saturday, October 6 through 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 9 at 6:00 p.m. at Richmond Hill Players Barn, 600 Robinson Drive in Geneseo.