KCAL Old Time Radio Troupe reenacts scripts from the 1940s and 1950s
CAL Old Time Radio Troupe re-enacts old time radio shows bringing back to life a relict not to be forgotten but enjoyed once more by those interested in exploring the golden age of radio. With most of the reproductions taken from scripts originating back to the 1940s and 1950s, the troupe offers a variety of shows to those who come and watch such as comedy, mystery and drama. Recently the cast added an old-time quiz show to its list of accomplishments, which the actors created and produced themselves.
“One phrase we like to use is ‘theater of the mind,’” said KCAL producer and director Doug Fain. “Before the days of television all of the programs were produced on radio and people would listen daily or weekly to their favorite shows.”
Shows take place periodically throughout the year, with the next scheduled performance coming this fall. Performances take place in the Farmers Bank Theatre, located inside the Polvino Family Art Center at 109 S. Main St. in Nicholasville. Having recently finished the spring show featuring a reproduction of an old “Fibber McGee and Molly” episode, Fain said the fall production will be a show they have produced once before, the 1940s radio version of “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
“(In ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’) a writer, Mortimer Brewster, falls for the girl-next-door, Elaine Harper,” Fain said. “When they return to their respective family homes to deliver the news, Brewster finds a corpse hidden in a window seat. With his eccentric aunts, disturbed uncle, and homicidal brother, he starts to realize that his family is even crazier than he thought.”
With scheduled showtimes for September 28, 29 and 30th, Fain said the fall production is a hybrid play showing how it may have looked if produced on the set of a 1940s radio show. The cast, he said, dresses in period clothing and produces sound effects, all while reading the script the way it used to be read.
“We have a core group of actors who are pretty much in all of the shows,” Fain said. “But, since our first show in the fall of 2014, there have been some 20 people from Jessamine County who have played at least one part in our reproductions. This whole idea came out of the mind of the Creative Art League of Jessamine County. We were approached to do this special program and the funds that we make off of ticket sales go to help other art programs that CAL has for community members.”
When it comes time to produce a new show, the producers and directors of KCAL make the decision on who will be cast in the upcoming production. The core players of the last reenactment include Fain, Norman Cline, Billy Holland, Susan Clements, Lorette Latham Blackford, Denise Teater Cline, David Damron, Eddie Clements and Steve Watts.
Fain is the producer and director, and also serves as the Jessamine County Circuit Clerk. He got his start in radio at the age of 15 at WNVL, and currently hosts a 6 to 8 a.m. radio show for the local WNJK serving Jessamine County.
Norman Cline also serves as producer and director. He is a veteran actor who said his love for the stage began with his first role in elementary school. Denise Teater Cline serves as producer and director alongside her husband and Fain, and said she has been performing since the age of two. A dancer at heart, she also loves to act.
Holland is a singer and songwriter. As a published author he devotes his time to community outreach.
Susan is employed with Dr. Danny Stickler Pediatric Dentistry and said she loves working with children and learning from the longtime players in the KCAL troupe. Eddie has been involved in the arts all his life and has explored both the visual and performing arts. Blackford is a lifetime resident of Jessamine County and an employee at Farmer’s Bank.
Damron is also employed locally with Farmer’s Bank, and while he has acted in several reproductions, he was also responsible for writing the 2017 “ChristmasTIME in Nicholasville” as well as the 2018 game show, “What Do You Know?”
Watts is another lifetime resident of Jessamine County. A retiree of the UK Medical Center, Watts started his acting career many years ago when he played an Indian in the outdoor drama “Jessamine” written by Elexene Cox.
“People always leave our shows telling us how much they enjoyed not only the entertainment but learning about the way it used to be before television really made it big,” Fain said. “Performing to a live audience, we kind of put our own special touch on these reproductions. We don’t just read the script. We might actually get into it with costumes or with actions to make the play come alive. So what you see is not a 100 percent reproduction of the way it was done back then, but we get pretty close with our own special KCAL twist.”
For the future, Fain said the group wishes to continue to deliver family entertainment, such as the many past plays they have produced, hopefully for many years to come.
“We have developed quite a dedicated audience following and everyone seems to always enjoy the different performances that we bring each time,” Fain said.