Radio Theatre Project returns to thestudio@620 tonight. Since 2009, it’s been one of the more unique theatrical shows in St. Pete – old-time, live radio theater with a twist – and because it was all done via Zoom in 2020, tonight’s performance is a celebration of sorts.
Officially, RTP was “back” in October, but that one was done without founding member Matt Cowley, the foley artist (he creates all the in-person sound effects). Cowley was otherwise occupied last month.
So tonight, the gang’s all here.
“Everybody always watches Matt,” explains producer, director and performer Bonnie Agan. “What he does over there is always very interesting. People tell me they don’t watch the actors, but they watch Matt. He’s moving around a lot. And that’s part of the entertainment.”
For three relatively short plays, the actors “act” in front of stationery microphones, while the foley artist is never still. “It worked forever on radio,” Agan says. “That was the only way of telling stories for a long time, before television. People just want to hear stories.”
Sometimes, she explains, “People say they close their eyes – ‘every once in a while, I’ll watch Matt and see what he’s doing, but I just like to listen.’”
Unlike classic, 1930s and ‘40s retro radio theater, these are new, original stories submitted for the St. Pete productions from playwrights across the country.
Tonight’s performers include Lisa Tricomi, David Warner, Tracey Reynolds, Dean Wick, Bonnie Agan, Mimi Rice, Juliana Ditmeyer and Bob Devin Jones.
(Full disclosure: This reporter is the evening’s announcer, and performs in one of the three plays.)
Now that everybody’s back in place, all’s right in the world of Radio Theatre Project.
The streaming attempts, although they were well-produced (with three cameras), just didn’t have the impact of a live performance. “It took the flavor away from it completely,” Agan says. “Having the audience there is just a huge part of it.”
Tonight’s performance begins at 7. Details and tickets here.