I was recently on the F train, and overheard a group of tourists discussing how they were in search of an “authentic NYC theater experience.” The debate was between seeing The Jersey Boys or Phantom of the Opera. Now, I’ll be the first to say I adore both of those shows to the ends of the earth…but as a New Yorker, I felt it my duty to jump into the conversation (i.e. interrupt), and politely point them in the direction of something a bit more, as they put it, “authentic”. I shared the name of my favorite radio theatre group in the city, Gotham Radio Theatre, promising them right before they hopped off at the 47th-50th Streets-Rockefeller Center stop that the experience would not disappoint.
I’ve actively followed Gotham Radio’s shows during the past year, and am thrilled that they are now starting their third season. They opened with Noel Coward’s comedy “Present Laughter”, the story of successful actor Garry Essedine (Michael Iannucci) packing his bags for an acting tour in Africa, but first having to overcome several comical roadblocks that came up along the way: his estranged wife, his secretary, a crazy playwright, and two women who are on a mission to seduce him. Combine this with his just-turned-40-mid-life-crisis, and a fabulous farce you have!
What makes Gotham Radio an authentic NYC theater experience is how they take a classic radio program and perform it live on stage, sound effects and all, transporting the audience back in time to the bygone radio era of the 30‘s and 40‘s. Everyday sounds are created right before your eyes and ears on stage: martinis being mixed, doors slamming, window curtains being peaked through. The performers often play the part of several characters, showing true range in their ability to transform instantaneously from, say, stern German housekeeper to giddy mistress or humble secretary to glamorous mistress (bravo Jill Ahrold and Laura Leopard!).
Gotham Radio will be continuing on the season with favorites such as “Jeeves and Wooster in America” and “Rudolph’s Tale: A 1964 Christmas”. Make sure to visit their website and purchase tickets before the tourists scoop them all up.
What defines an authentic NYC theater experience for you? Share your thoughts below! WHAT: Gotham Radio Theatre WHERE: Arclight Theater152 West 71st StreetNew York, New York TICKETS: $20 General Admission, $15 Senior Discount By: Jessica Tiare Bowen