One year ago, under the auspices of PNRNetworks Dramatic Presentations, The PNRNetworks family of podcasts teamed up to produce our own version of HG Wells’ classic story, “The War Of The Worlds“. Our version was adapted from both the original story as well as several different dramatized versions of the story that had produced over the years. Our version was timed to celebrate four different anniversaries of other adaptations of the story.
The most famous one was celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2018, the 1938 production performed by the Mercury Theater Of The Air, headed up by a then still relatively unknown actor named Orson Welles. That broadcast became infamous, can be heard almost every Halloween somewhere, and made Welles and his company of fellow actors stars.
The second version was celebrating its 50th anniversary – a localized version of the story inspired by the Howard Koch-penned version used by Welles in 1938, this version produced by local radio station WKBW-AM in Buffalo NY. This version, adapted by the stations news director at the time, Jefferson Kaye, who also starred in the production, and also performed by the stations real life lineup of newsmen and disc jockeys, scared the hell out of the Buffalo/Niagara Falls area in 1968, in honor of the then-30th anniversary of the Welles broadcast; it was such a success that they have remade their version several times since that original night in 1968.
The third was celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2018 – the version produced in 1988 by National Public Radio, using the original Koch script with a few minor changes, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Welles broadcast. This version was populated by well known NPR personalities, CBS news anchor Douglas Edwards, entertainer Steve Allen, and actor Jason Robards in the role that made Welles a star, Professor Richard Pierson of Princeton University.
The fourth was celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018 – the 1978 musical version produced by UK musician and producer Jeff Wayne, who released his version, titled simply “Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds” in June of that year, headed up by a cast featuring Sir Richard Burton, singer Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues and rock singer David Essex among others. Wayne has since adapted and recreated new versions of the tale over the years as well.
For our version, I took inspiration (and yes, a few bits and pieces of dialogue, too, all in good fun, and to make sure all four versions were represented) from all four of the above versions, and vastly expanded its scope for the modern era. Set in 2018, our version watches the story unfold as audiences first heard it in 1938, as radio coverage, first originating on a small community radio station in the heartland of the United States, whose coverage gradually gives way to coverage by the Independent Network News radio network, anchored by senior newsman Gary Hunt. I also changed a few things here and there to help make it our own. Starring Kim Brown as Professor Andrea Pitney, Anthony Lamberti as WBS reporter Tony Warden, and yours truly (TC Kirkham) as INN anchor Gary Hunt, along with Eric Lyon, Valerie Lyon, Matthew McCallum, and Courtney Lyon, it was truly a labor of love and we think it came out pretty darn good for a group of amateur actors like us.
Because our planned Halloween presentation for this year, a completely original production “A.T.H.E.N.A.: Breakdown“, was unable to be finished in time for the holiday due to scheduling conflicts and writers’ block in a few places, we’re presenting this encore of our show from last year. Our new production above will mark the official launch of “EARMagination Theatre” in early 2020. But until then, we hope you enjoy this reposting of “The War Of The Worlds 2018”; you can also find both this production and our original dramatic production, the 10th anniversary “Cloverfield” tribute “Manhattan Hammerdown: As It Happened” on our full YouTube site as well. Although this is a YouTube presentation, it is audio only except for the title card, so you can shrink down or add new tabs and continue listening without worrying about the video…that’s why we call it “EARMagination Theatre“…natch!