NPR Radio Drama: Summer Mystery Series – July and August 2009

Aural Noir: News

Radio drama has been effectively dead in the United States of America for some time now. Or perhaps it has just been sleeping? Perhaps it will wake mid-July 2009?

WNIN Mystery Writers Festival

WNIN-FM has a special treat for our listeners this summer! In conjunction with the International Mystery Writer’s Festival in Owensboro, WNIN will air four weeks of original, contemporary radio dramas produced during the festival last year. The drama series will be hosted by Angela Lansbury, star of Murder She Wrote and the current Broadway hit Blithe Spirit.

The series will start Saturday, July 18th at 7pm, right after “A Prairie Home Companion”. The nine, original radio dramas were written by such famous authors as Ray Bradbury and Mary Higgins Clark. Other writers also contributed to this fantastic lineup, including P.J. Woodside of Madisonville, Kentucky. The dramas were recorded during performances before a live audience in the manner of the old-time radio shows.

As a bonus, WNIN will host a live broadcast from the RiverPark Center in Owensboro on Saturday, August 15th during the 2009 International Mystery Writer’s Festival. The American premiere of four plays written by Dame Agatha Christie will be performed, including the famous “Three Blind Mice”, which was part of a May, 1947 BBC program in honor of the eightieth birthday of Queen Mary. The world’s longest running play; “The Mousetrap” was inspired by “Three Blind Mice”. Two never before published works by Ms. Christie will be part of the evening’s live performance.

WNIN-FM is excited about bringing original radio dramas back to public radio. The dramas were performed by professional actors, utilizing the best techniques of old-time radio, but done in a contemporary fashion. The series was produced under direction from the award-winning talents of Judith Walcott and David Ossman of Firesign Theater.

Summer Mystery Series Schedule:

July 18 – It Burns Me Up
By Ray Bradbury
A murdered man lies on the floor and his stunned wife sits nearby. A police detective and the coroner discuss the victim while other police do their jobs. Reporters and neighbors crowd in at the door… but, the dead man on the floor tells the story before the ambulance arrives.

July 18 – My Gal Sunday
Adapted from Mary Higgins Clark’s best seller Crime of Passion
A delightful detective couple, the rich and handsome ex-president of the United States and his wife, an attractive Congresswoman, investigate the affair of a former Secretary of State and his murdered mistress.

July 25 – Hallie Bowers
By Harris Mack and Laura Campbell
War-time Christmas of 1941 leads a seasoned female private investigator and her younger brother from a nightclub dance floor to the tracks at L.A.’s Union Station when they take on a missing-girlfriend case from a handsome Navy Lieutenant.

Aug 1 – The Cajun P.I.
By P.J. Woodside
Former cop and now struggling Private Investigator John LeGrand is a junior college criminology instructor who begins a dangerous search for one of his own students who ends up missing during a class assignment. Some good-ol-boys – and not-so-good-ol-boys – and some attractive, but slightly dangerous, women round out the characters of this betrayal in the Bayou.

August 8 – Flemming: An American Thriller
By Sam Bobrick
A farce full of twists and turns that will leave you laughing as well as longing for a good drink. An unassuming middle-aged man decides to become a private detective in the midst of a mid-life crisis – but the life crisis is only beginning! Bobrick’s play is full of witty dialogue that fades in-and-out-of murders, madness, and many, many mixed drinks.

August 15 – Live Broadcast: American Premieres of FOUR “NEW” Thrillers
By Agatha Christie

* “Three Blind Mice” was part of a May 30, 1947 evening of program in honor of the eightieth birthday of Queen Mary. The BBC approached the Queen some months prior and asked for her special favorites. Amongst a selection of music and variety, she requested a new mystery by Agatha Christie, a writer the Queen deeply admired. The world’s longest running play “The Mousetrap” was inspired by “Three Blind Mice”.

* “Butter in a Lordly Dish” was first performed on the BBC on Tuesday, January 13, 1948 in a strand entitled Mystery Playhouse presents, “The Detection Club.” The play title comes from the Bible: Judges, 5:25: “He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish”. “He” refers to Sisera and “she” is Jael. (This work was never published before).

* “Yellow Iris” was first presented on the BBC National Program in 1937. The main part of the story takes place in a London restaurant. The play is unusual in that the producer interspersed the action with the performances of the cabaret artists who were supposedly on the stage at the restaurant during the murder. It features the famous Belgian Inspector Hercule Poirot, one of Christie’s audiences’ favorite detectives.

* “Personal Call”, the last thriller, was presented on the BBC Light Program on Monday, May 31, 1954. The play reuses the legendary character of Inspector Narracott from the 1931 novel “The Sittaford Mystery.” (This work was never published before)

Posted by Jesse Willis

3 thoughts to “NPR Radio Drama: Summer Mystery Series – July and August 2009”

  1. The many mystery plays performed at Owensboro, last year and this year, are all under the producership of Otherworld Media. Judith Walcutt (War of the Worlds 50th Anniv. Production, etc.) is the overall producer, and David Ossman (Firesign Theatre, Mark Time Awards, etc. ) does direction and a lot of the audio adaptation. Phil Proctor, also of the Firesign Theatre, and his wife, Melinda Peterson, are both in the cast. This year’s mystery program in Owensboro is in August.

  2. Looking forward to this. Hopefully they have these available for streaming, though I also know there’s a CD out if you want to cut to the chase.

  3. You say you will present “Three Blind Mice” as a radio play, but can I listen to this play? I live in Mobile, Alabama, and I know that WHIL broadcasts NPR, but will they be broadcasting “Three Blind Mice?” I loe this play, and would like to get it on DVD, if it ever is released. It is a fantastic mystery! Thanks so much!

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