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FreeFall to return with ‘War of the Worlds’

Bill DeYoung



The latest bay area professional theater to dip a tentative toe back into live performance, socially distanced and with an abundance of other cautions, is freeFall in St. Petersburg.

Tickets go on sale Friday for artistic director Eric Davis’ first foray into Covid-era theater, an adaptation of the classic Orson Wells radio drama War of the Worlds, to be presented Oct. 23-Nov. 22.

The show is subtitled “A live radio drive-in experience.” As with most everything freeFall undertakes, it defies easy explanation.

“Eric is not really a fan of virtual programming, so he didn’t want to put a lot of that out,” explains theater spokesman Matthew McGee. “He doesn’t think it’s safe enough to have people in the space yet.

“But we have this enormous parking lot, and this really kind of versatile outdoor courtyard space that we’ve used for parties and other things, and Eric said ‘I think I can make a stage here.’”

And that’s what Davis and longtime musical collaborator Michael Raabe have done. War of the Worlds, staged in the north parking lot (adjacent to 1st Avenue North) will include live musicians, multi-media, special effects and … more. It’s not, McGee stresses, a “play” as such.

Here’s the theater’s official description:

When an anachronistic, live variety hour is preempted by the shocking news that Martians have invaded Earth, the adage that “the show must go on” is put to the ultimate test. Nostalgic, surprising, fun, and irreverent, this evening of impending mayhem is freeFall’s safe and innovative return to live performances in the face of a global pandemic and the inevitable Martian onslaught.

Attendees will watch from their cars; the show’s audio will stream via a low radio bandwidth, and through a phone app. “It’s just a different kind of experience,” McGee explains. “This is the safest way to do it, for the audience and the performers.”

With their original musical Oz moved ahead to 2021, Davis and Raabe have been working on War of the Worlds for a while now.

“It’s definitely an experiment, and very on brand with what Eric wants to do,” says McGee. “Because I think he will come up with something really interesting and fun for people to be a part of – while we wait to get back into the theater.”

Tickets and all available info here.


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1 Comment

1 Comment

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    Gloria Marvin

    September 1, 2020at5:12 pm

    Terrific news! Very unique approach, fascinating to think of attending.

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