Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Radio Drama Comes to the Winter Sun

The following was published in the Floyd Press on December 13, 2007.

The Floyd Home Companion is a theatrical performance scheduled to open at the Winter Sun Hall on Friday and Saturday, December 14th and 15th at 7 p.m. and Sunday December 16th at 5 p.m. The show is a take-off on The Prairie Home Companion, a satirical radio show created and hosted by Garrison Keillor. It will be performed by The Young Actors Co-op, a Floyd theater group.

Inspiration for Keillor’s popular variety show, which airs live from Minnesota Saturday afternoons on Public Radio, came from the Grand Ole Opry. Both Keillor’s show and Floyd version of the show include comedy skits, musical acts, fake ads, and storytelling featuring local references.

There’s also a movie based on The Prairie Home Companion, directed by Robert Altman and staring Keillor, Meryl Streep, Lilly Tomlin, Lindsey Lohan and others. The director of The Floyd Home Companion, Rose McCutchan (pictured below), hasn’t seen the film. She doesn’t want the pressure of comparing the local production with a Hollywood one, she said.

Rose, who graduated from Floyd High School in 1997, has lived in New York City, Los Angeles, and Baltimore, where she’s acted in community theater, auditioned for TV and film roles, and has had what she calls “brief moments of minor successes.” But she began to feel like a “tiny fish in a great sea,” especially in Los Angeles, so eventually she moved back to Floyd, where she manages The Black Water Loft, part of the McCutchan family business.

Both Rose and her husband, Josh Bosniak, graduated with degrees in theater from Mary Mount Manhattan College, where Rose first directed children’s theater classes. rosedirector.jpg I sat next to Josh, a musician who graduated from Floyd High in 1996, at a recent play practice. He explained the premise of the play and Rose’s contribution as writer and director.

“What’s your role in it? I asked.

“Everything else,” he answered, referring to the support he gives Rose doing whatever is needed.

Upon her return to Floyd, Rose was asked to share her theater training at a children’s camp hosted by the owners of Ambrosia Farm, a local B&B. The Young Actors Co-op was formed and productions hosted by the Jacksonville Center were performed throughout 2005 and 2006.

The current Young Actors Co-op is made up of twelve actors who range in age from eight to sixteen. Most have written their own skits. Their parents are also involved. Because of the parents, “we have professional tickets stubs, a play bill, ad spots, and so much more,” Rose said.

Pat Woodruff, a parent with two children in the play explained how sound effects are a big part of the radio variety show, just as they were during the Golden Age of Radio. I watched as two girls practiced their lines while pulling a chain across a wooden board. Pat explained that they were creating the sound of children climbing up a tree house while carrying a kitten for a skit Coriander Woodruff wrote, called “A Sleepover is an Oxymoron.”

Many of the skits are holiday themed. Two other young actors were rehearsing for Christmas skit titled “The Cat and The Stocking.” They used paper clips attached to gloves for the sound of cat claws scampering across the floor. A box of beads and bells were shook at the appropriate time to mimic the sound of a Christmas tree falling down.

Coriander, who is thirteen years old and has recorded two CDs of her electronica music, has contributed much of the music production’s soundtrack. Josh Bosniak and local musician A’court Bason have also provided original music.

In some ways the production is a play within a play. Many of the children have duel roles, first playing stage managers getting ready to air a show, and then taking on the roles of radio show performers. A game show of Floyd Trivia, a skit about a UFO landing in Floyd, and an ad for Oddfellas Cantina in which three actors perform dressed in the Oddfellas logo – a farmer, a hippie, and a businessman – are all part of the show.

The Floyd Home Companion, a play about what it’s like to put on a variety radio show, is scheduled to be aired on a real radio show. Hickory Dickory Dock, a children’s program on Virginia Tech’s Independent Radio Station, WUVT-FM 90.7, which airs on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 11, plans to play recordings of the show.

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