Vintage Hitchcock: Iowa City Community Theater presents radioplay based on Hitchcock films

Alfred Hitchcock’s films, famous for their suspense, will get a new life in Iowa City Community Theater’s newest audio-only production.


Jeff Sigmund

Old radio illustration on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. (Jeff Sigmund/Daily Iowan)

Parker Jones, Arts Reporter

Based on the films of infamous English director Alfred Hitchcock, Iowa City Community Theater will present the only radioplay of its 2021 season — Vintage Hitchcock.

The program is a 1940s-style radio drama, an anthology that consists of three plays based on Hitchcock’s films The Lodger, The Sabotage, and The 39 Steps, will stream on from Oct. 22 to 24.

Vintage Hitchcock will also have a special one-time-only broadcast on Iowa City’s 105. 3 KICI radio at 8 p.m. on Oct. 25, which will only be receivable for those within 5 miles of downtown Iowa City.

Adeara Jean Maurice, director of Vintage Hitchcock, said there are many differences during production when it comes to creating a play without a visual element. Maurice said across the three shorter plays, the radioplay has anywhere from 150 to 200 unique sounds that were pre-recorded, in addition to each character’s lines of dialogue.

“There’s been a lot of focus on creating that story in a more audible direction, because we don’t really have the visuals to fall back on,” Maurice said. “It’s less about the characters visually and more about listening to the characters and listening to the sound that they’re producing.”

Although the play will only be presented virtually, cast and crew members were able to meet in-person to record sound together.

Iowa City Community Theater lifetime member and long-time actor Beverly Mead, affectionately called ‘Mama Mead’ by her castmates, plays main villain Mr. Sleuth in The Lodger. Mead said recording the audio in person was helpful for the actors to understand what was going on, but also made it easier to create believable sound.

“We wanted to make sure that the audio was going to be the same in each scene, as it would be even more alive,” Mead said. “You have to visualize it in your mind while you’re listening to what’s being done.”

Another cast member of Vintage Hitchcock is Duane Larson, who plays The Announcer and will introduce each play and give a short farewell at the end.

He said he has experience performing in radioplays, although they were done live in front of an audience.

Larson added that the main difference between in-person visual drama productions and radioplays is the lack of a live audience, who often provide many of the sound effects like cheering, applause, or background noise that had to be pre-recorded for Vintage Hitchcock.

“It’s still enjoyable. I’ve done a lot of online stuff over the last year and a half, because that’s the only way to do it,” Larson said. “They’ve all been enjoyable, but it’s not the same.”

Maurice said ultimately, it has been relieving to return to the stage even if it is virtual, and that she has heard the same sentiment from several of the actors, as well.

“It’s been really nice, being able to finally do theater again. I’ve been hearing that from a lot of people,” Maurice said. “It’s definitely gonna be a fun show.”