Washougal, WA — The eerie sound of chains rattling, footsteps across a wooden floor, actors voicing character dialog and a healthy dose of imagination. These are just some of the elements that will bring “Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol – A Radio Play” to life by the Jemtegaard Middle School Soundstage students and staff.
“Last spring our Soundstage club was supposed to perform The Box by Lindsay Price and then of course COVID happened,” said Diana Larson, Soundstage creator and advisor. “It was a big disappointment. We had the scenery ready and everything. We considered a mini version, but it just would not have been the same.”
Not wanting to disappoint the students again, it was decided to perform a radio play this fall. “We found that there were a lot of radio show scripts out this year,” said Larson. “We were excited to find this classic holiday story and it even came with sound effects. We decided to do it!”
Soundstage club members were ready for the challenge, having met over the summer with upwards of 20 students attending the weekly sessions. Larson used her connections with actors, singers, and dancers from New York through her years in vocal training to connect her students on Zoom to professionals in the entertainment industry. “We had online dance instruction, sing-a-longs, monolog sessions and even had a very special guest, Juliana Conte, a singer/dancer who has appeared in New York in Spring Awakening and the Adams Family,” she said. John Armor, Shakespearean actor and stage combat choreographer for Portland Opera and other theater companies, also provided virtual lessons over the summer.
The radio show was cast via virtual auditions in October. “The great thing for students is that no one has to work to memorize the lines,” said Larson. “They will read them as their character. There will be no visuals, just the listeners’ imagination.”
Rounding out the cast will be several notable special guests. John Hugill, a local Portland actor, will anchor the show and perform the lead role of Ebenezer Scrooge. JMS principal, David Cooke, will read the part of Bob Cratchit and WSD Superintendent Mary Templeton will voice Mrs. Cratchit. Other JMS staff participating include History teachers Scott Rainey and Scott Hoisington.
“The student actors were outstanding,” said Templeton. “They came to the recording prepared. They knew their lines, their characters and had vocal presence. They created a presentation that is artistic and engaging.”
Each actor will record their part via Zoom and then it will be professionally edited together, with sound effects, for the final product. “Our sound engineer, Vic Sorisio, is doing the recording and editing,” said Larson. “He also coached the students to understand how they need to sit and speak during their recording for the best sound quality.”
Recordings took place November 2 and 5 and the show will be available online on the Washougal School District website on December 4. Just in time for the holidays.
“My goal is to provide these students an opportunity to be a part of a production and experience that joy and satisfaction,” said Larson. “I also hope that the show brings our community together with a shared holiday experience.”