Old time radio returns to the stage this holiday season with the premiere of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Hitchhiker’s is the latest production from local company This is Twisted Theatre, which stays true to its theme of staging serial shows based on old radio plays.
“Dec. 28 is the launch of a season based on the original Hitchhiker’s story,” said Theodore Sherman, who is behind the company with local actor and comedian Rod Peter Jr.
“We’ll follow (Hitchhiker’s) traditional story arc and aim to have the second show out for Feb. 1 and 2.”
Episode I debuts Dec. 28 and 29 in the Maritime Museum’s Vice Admiralty Courtroom, better known as the home of the “Hanging Judge” Matthew Baillie Begbie.
When Sherman and Peter first settled on the courtroom as Twisted’s new venue, they debated as to which production to offer. The Victorian charm of the courtroom screamed Sherlock Holmes, another series popularized by 1930s and ‘40s radio. But the comedic sell of Hitchhiker’s wasn’t to be argued with.
The two grads of Vic High’s theatre program have had an interest in radio plays since their days as actors with Atomic Vaudeville, though Sherman’s mostly been behind the stage.
“We might still add in some short sketches if things go well, possibly a serial short to start the shows,” Peter said. “But Hitchhiker’s is the headliner.”
The Hitchhiker’s franchise began as a BBC radio comedy in the 1970s and is therefore less “old-timey” than Twisted’s usual material. The company debuted out of Intrepid Theatre in 2011 with a monthly show of sketches, including spin offs of 1940s shows such as Batman, to the serial adventure series and 2011 Fringe hit Tara Firm and the Lunar Chronicles.
For fans familiar with The Hitchhiker’s saga, expect the story to echo the books and movie, rather than the original BBC radio score.
Like its directors, Twisted’s cast for Hitchhiker’s is relatively young, with 20-somethings Derek Wall as protagonist Arthur Dent and Jessica McLeod as love interest Trillian McMillan. It’s Wall’s first show in town after five years in Thunder Bay, and is a departure from the camera for McLeod, who has a growing film resume on IMDB.com.
Wall and McLeod will be on their toes all night as all six actors are multicast. Wall also appears as a sperm whale, McLeod as the alien PhouchG and a bar maid.
Exactly how Marvin the depressed robot will be presented will be a bit of a surprise as it is still in discussion.
Tickets are available for the Dec. 28 and 29 shows through the Maritime Museum.
• The Vice Admiralty Courtroom previously hosted shows by Urban Arts and has been used in an official capacity as a Canadian tax court in the past 10 years.
• Theodore Sherman learned about the courtroom as a venue through museum marketing director Kristy Fallon. The two once worked at the same grocery store.
• All but one of Hitchhiker’s cast members has read the novel series, a trilogy in five books.
• Twisted Theatre is the ongoing advancement of Peter from actor to creative director and producer.