unnamed (13)“The story of terror can be as simple as a sheeted ghost rattling chains. It can be a complex and hidden world of horror, lurking in such unholy dimensions as only the dead and the moonstruck can glimpse. Or it can be those terrible fathomless shadows which lie buried deep in the primitive mind of civilized man.”

So began each episode of the radio classic “Sleep No More” back in the golden ghoulish days of classic radio dramas such as “Sleep No More”, “Inner Sanctum”, and “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.”

Last year Oak Park Festival Theatre (OPFT) created a co-benefit with The Nineteenth Century Charitable Association in which guests were transported back to those halcyon days in front of the wireless with their authentic recreation of a live remote broadcast of WVOP’s Theatre of the Air production of the Conan Doyle classic “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” Professional actors in post war costumes created all the suspense and suspicion of gaslight London and misty, murderous moors with the assistance of live sound effects and an organ virtuoso under-scoring. The event, complete with pre-performance receptions, was a resounding success for all ages.

And so, this year, back by popular demand, the WVOP (Visit Oak Park) Radio Acting Company presents a brand new radio adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s only novel, the spine-chilling and soul-challenging The Picture of Dorian Gray.

“Be very careful”, the ancient adage warns, “what you wish for because you may just get it.” The impossibly beautiful young Dorian Gray wishes with all his heart and soul that his just completed portrait could grow old while he himself stayed always exactly as he was that moment. And so, in exchange for his heart and soul, his wish was granted. The cost of that exchange to Gray and all who  his blessed/accursed life thereafter touched is the story of Wilde’s masterpiece of the macabre, this sensational and scandalous  novel.

The Wilde classic was chosen for presentation because of the Wilde-ly successful summer production of The Importance of Being Earnest, the second production of Festival theatre’s 40th anniversary season that began with Hamlet.

As with last year’s Conan Doyle presentation, the script was adapted by OPFT Artistic Associate Belinda Bremner who played Lady Bracknell in Earnest. She will again direct.

The cast includes: Michael McKeogh (Hamlet in this summer’s OPFT production ofHamlet) as Dorian Gray, Artistic Associate Kevin Theis (director of Earnest) as his mentor Sir Henry Wooton, and OPFT Artistic Director Jack Hickey (Claudius inHamlet) as painter Basil Harwood, with Artistic Associate Mary Michell, Jude Willis (Algy in Earnest), Maddy Hickey, and OPFT’s newest Artistic Associate Tony Dobrolowski as Wilde.

Alan Hommerding will again be  the maestro on the organ and Paul and Linus Engelhardt will provide live sound effects. We also welcome back veteran journalist Charles Meyerson as our announcer.

The Nineteenth Century Charitable Association will again host pre-show receptions before the Friday evening and Sunday afternoon “broadcasts.”

This is indeed family friendly fare and likely to spark lively and illuminating inter-generational discussions. The audience is encouraged to participate by wearing either late 1940’s fashions or by dressing in shades of gray to enhance the time travel experience back to the golden days of radio.

Tickets are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors and $15 for those under 18 and may be purchased at the door; or, in advance at the Visitors’ Bureau 1010 West Lake Street, by phone at 708-445-4440 or online at tickets@oakpark.com.

The two-performance event is co-sponsored by The Nineteenth Century Charitable Association and Oak Park Festival Theatre. The Nineteenth Century Charitable Association began in 1891 and since its foundation has focused on promoting learning and giving. The Association encourages social responsibility by providing charitable service, financial support to community not-for-profits, and college scholarships to local students. Founded in the summer of 1975, Oak Park Festival Theatre (OPFT) is not only Oak Park’s only professional (Actors’ Equity Association) resident theatre but also the Midwest’s oldest professional outdoor classic theatre. OPFT, in addition to presenting professional and yet affordably priced productions, frequently works with organizations such as Prevail and the Animal Care League to improve the lives of all in our community.  Visit Oak Park (VOP) is once again providing finance support and is excited to help keep WVOP “on-the-air”.