Mark Valentine narrates Orson Welles’ parts from the radio play “War of the Worlds.” Director Olivia Shea said the original play is recreated but with more audience interaction and emotion. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Mark Valentine narrates Orson Welles’ parts from the radio play “War of the Worlds.” Director Olivia Shea said the original play is recreated but with more audience interaction and emotion. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

OTA double feature goes sci-fi, nostalgic with ‘War of the Worlds,’ ‘OTA Moments’

SEQUIM — Olympic Theatre Arts is taking viewers into the past with a doubleheader, one a creepy retelling for the Halloween season and another, a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Howard E. Koch’s radio drama of “War of the Worlds” comes to life in the first half featuring Mark Valentine as the iconic actor/director Orson Welles.

In the second half, many of the theater’s veterans present “OTA Moments,” seven vignettes retelling funny stories from OTA’s 40-year history.

Shows run weekends tonight through Oct. 13 in the Gathering Hall, 414 N. Sequim Ave.

They will be at 7:30 tonight and Saturday night as well as Oct. 11-12; and at 2 p.m. Sunday and Oct. 13.

Tickets are $18 for adults, $12 for students. For advance tickets, call 360-683-7326 or visit www.olympictheatrearts.org.

Tickets also will be sold at the door.

Olivia Shea, director for “War of the Worlds,” said every word from the 1938 radio play is retold through multiple actors and sound effects.

“It’s been fun to do and have someone making sounds with the foley table,” she said.

The original radio play from New York’s Mercury Theatre frightened listeners across the country fearing extraterrestrials were taking over Earth.

Shea said they’re presenting it as a radio play but putting their own spin on it by interacting with the audience and emoting more.

“We felt it’d be better to show the emotion,” she said.

Originally OTA was going to bring the satire “Greater Tuna” back to the stage, Shea said, but felt the political climate has changed in the past 10 years that didn’t make portions of it appropriate.

Finding your moment

Following heat rays and martians in the first half, actors celebrate the 40th season of OTA with anecdotes from various plays.

“When it goes to intermission, don’t go home,” said Heidi Hansen, OTA past board president.

“You’re going to miss out on something special.”

Hansen, a real estate broker and cofounder of Olympic Peninsula Authors, met with a lot of people involved with the theater in its 40 years in long, open conversations seeking entertaining events.

Actress Melissa Murray said the play is “a celebration of how [OTA] came together with the people who brought it to life.”

The skits feature an array of tales from local actors like Dave McInnes and Jaye Butler arguing over costume changes backstage and Shea losing a live cat under the stage during a rehearsal.

Director Marissa Meek said the actors have been great to recreate the moments.

“They’re the experts about how it really went down,” she said.

They took some liberties, Meek said, to avoid inside jokes and entertain anyone.

“I love the group’s collaboration to make it ring true and entertaining,” she said.

Hansen said she’s been involved with OTA since 2005 and that she remains amazed at the talent involved.

“My first impression when I attended a play was that I was blown away that they had so many volunteer cast and crew members who were so good,” Hansen said. “That’s what continues to amaze me.”

She said also appreciates seeing young people becoming involved taking a small acting part or working backstage and eventually starring in shows years later.

“It’s nice to revisit history,” OTA board member Elaine Caldwell said.

“We’ve had some proud moments all thanks to our generous community.”

For more information on the shows, call 360-683-7326 or visit www.olympic theatrearts.org.

________

Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].

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