Arts

Bricolage’s Midnight Radio tackles a Holiday Classic

By The Pittsburgh Current
info@pittsburghcurrent.com

 

The dawning of the holiday season has arrived again, and with it comes countless beloved stories: Rudolph, The Grinch, The Nutcracker, and more. But for those looking for a twist on a favorite holiday tale, look no further than the upcoming production of Yinz’r Scrooged at Bricolage Production Company.

From their home base in downtown, Bricolage produces a variety of immersive and unorthodox theatrical experiences, aiming to put audiences at the center of the action. Yinz’r Scrooged is the latest iteration of Bricolage’s popular “Midnight Radio” series, in which the story of the show is told in the style of a 1940s radio show. The format embraces the idiosyncrasies of old-time radio, including Foley sound effects and parodies of commercials. There are few visual cues, with much of the storytelling done through sound, encouraging audience members to use their imagination to create the scene.

“Midnight Radio” has been a part of Bricolage’s programming for over a decade, and has been the vehicle for stories across multiple genres. These range from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to Frankenstein, as well as Die Hard N’at, a “yinzerized” retelling of the first Die Hard movie.

Like Die Hard N’at, Yinz’r Scrooged is a Pittsburgh-centered translation of Charles Dicken’s seminal holiday tale, A Christmas Carol. Bricolage’s principal creative and cofounder, Tami Dixon, worked alongside director Sam Turich to adapt the classic story to the “Midnight Radio” format.

“It follows [the original story] pretty closely, but it makes Pittsburgh the backdrop, and puts Pittsburgh people in as characters,” said Dixon. “Pittsburghers love stories about Pittsburgh, so it seemed a no-brainer to translate that story to  something very unique to Pittsburgh.”

In addition to moving the setting from London to Pittsburgh, characters have been replaced with famous Pittsburghers. The Ghost of Christmas Past, for instance, will be embodied by none other than Mr. Rogers.

The biggest challenge with “Midnight Radio,” naturally, is finding ways to tell the story of Ebenezer Scrooge strictly through sound. For Dixon, this is a style she feels uniquely comfortable writing in.

“I’ve been writing in this genre for over a decade now, so I’ve honed some tricks to making something that needs a visual cue into something that can be done aurally,” said Dixon.

Dixon also had to trim the story to fit time constraints, as “Midnight Radio” is usually only one act with no intermission.

“It’s a pretty epic story, and we needed it to come in at a brisk 75 to 80 minutes,” said Dixon. “We don’t like to do intermission at Midnight Radio…so the challenge was to tell this epic story in a way that was digestible in one sitting.”

Once the script was completed, the next challenge became finding a talented crew to bring it to life. To pull it off, Dixon brought together a troupe of veteran “Midnight Radio” actors, as well as musical director Deana Muro. 

“We have a cast of five extraordinary actors, they’ve taken the material and made it their own,” said Dixon.

With such a talented group, the only thing left to do is bring in audiences to enjoy. Dixon hopes that would Yinz’r Scrooged provides audiences a delightful alternative to the traditional holiday show, and leaves them feeling a little bit of that spirit of giving that so permeates this time of year.

“I hope they leave having had an exhaustive laugh!” said Dixon. “Let their hair down, cry with laughter, and have their hearts warmed as well.”

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