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Local theatre group brings back radio drama in Halloween production of Edgar Allan Poe

Theatre Bacchus returns to the roots of today's podcast hype

A Niagara theatre company that had its premiere production thwarted by the pandemic is making a comeback over the 'airwaves' with a chilling new radio drama-production of stories by horror icon Edgar Allan Poe in time for the Halloween-season.

Theatre Bacchus, led by local artistic director Lana Borsellino, was in rehearsals, had sold tickets, and was just getting ready to begin entertaining at Niagara’s wineries when COVID-19 effectively put an end to all in-person performances.

As other theater groups and creatives worldwide were wrestling with the same issues, Borsellino began seeing the resurgence of something resembling the radio dramas of old pop up with scripted performances and live readings broadcasted online.

“We were monitoring it and saw some experiments that were better than others, but I wasn’t liking the Zoom-performances with everyone in their own spaces and a mishmash of different sound, so I thought ‘Why not take it right back to the real tradition and do this as a radio play with the actors in the same room?’ said Borsellino in an interview with Thorold News.

Fans of classic shows like ‘The Shadow’ or ‘Suspense’ will recall the sound that used to keep entire families chained by the radio in a theater of the mind.

The format has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years in the form of podcasts, and several major production companies have gotten in on the lucrative market.

To achieve the authentic intimate atmosphere of the classic radio drama, Borsellino's actors will be recording the play together in person, but well spaced out in the recording studio, wearing masks and facing away from each other as the story comes to life in the 90-minute play.

Living up to their name, the group has partnered with Harbour Estates Winery that will be hand-selecting wines available for pre-order to pair with the performance.

Virtual tickets can be purchased on the Theatre Bacchus website starting October 1 and will cost $5.

It will release on the air on Saturday, October 24 at 8 pm with a recorded link available for purchase for one week until October 31st.