Tonight The Sunset Playhouse hosts a free pre-produced fundraiser online. It’s a production of Lucille Flethcher’s 1943 half-hour radio drama Sorry, Wrong Number. It originally aired on a show called Suspense on May 25, 1943. (Suspense was an anthology series that ran on CBS radio from 1942 to 1962.) Agnes Moorehead played the lead. It's a dark, moody psychological horror perfect for the night before Halloween. Orson Welles once referred to it as “the greatest single radio script ever written.” It’s the drama of a single woman alone in her home trying to save the life of a total stranger.
The video for the show is cast in the image of what appears to be an old 415-series wood-cabinet Minerva Radio. The speaker appears on the left side of the screen. Vintage pictures of the 1940s-era appear in the right side of the screen where the boxy radio tuner would normally be. It’s a video, but it plays well as a contemporary replica of a WWII-era radio play. It’s a video, but the show plays really well as an audio-only show as well. The old Minerva is cute, but the real appeal here is listening to local actors perform an old radio script complete with music cues and sound effects and such. It should play really well to a contemporary audience that’s getting more and more used to listening to podcasts. The golden age of audio is returning, so it’s as good a time as any to look at drama from the dawn of broadcasting.
Donna Daniels plays the lead Mrs Stevenson. Daniels is engaging as a woman who inadvertently overhears conspiracy to murder on the phone. She immediately calls the operator to get them to trace the call so that they halt the murder, which is scheduled to be at 11:15 p.m. The operator suggests that she call the police and the phone-based audio adventure continues. Daniels is the center of the whol production, but there are a lot of guests making brief appearances. Carrie Gray is particularly appealing in a straight-ahead performance of the warm customer service tones of an information operator who never seems to be of any substantial help. Joan End makes a suitably slow and deliberate performance as a weary-sounding hospital Mrs. Stevenson calls in search of someone to aid her in soothing her nerves. Nicholas Callan Haubner makes a particularly heavy, dramatic, powerfully percussive moment as a mysterious stranger.
Sunset Playhouse’s Sorry, Wrong Number is aired tonight, October 30th at 7:30 pm. The program is available for free on Facebook. It’ll be placed on You Tube a little later on. Donations are welcome. For more information, visit.Sunset Playhouse of Facebook.