Students at two Wilmington high schools plan to invade living rooms this weekend with a story of suspense, murder and mystery — a tale immortalized on celluloid by the master of macabre, Alfred Hitchcock.
Ursuline Academy (UA) and Salesianum have joined forces to present a spring drama canceled due to the pandemic as a radio performance that theater goers can tune into live on Vimeo this Sunday.
Incredibly, in Hitchcock’s original 1927 film, the protagonist, “The Avenger,” wears a face mask.
Now, anyone keen to hear one Hitchcock’s oldest dramas can tune in on May 24th at 8 pm for a riveting 25-minute production.
The show about a serial murderer on the loose in London is filled with the loud shrieks of a young victim, old music, the sounds of creaky doors, pummeling rain, and other special effects — all synthesized by Ursuline senior Katie Carrig.
Originally planned for the weekend of March 26th, Ursuline’s spring drama was going to be a set of three short plays by Hitchcock. The young thespians had nailed down their lines for The Lodger, Sabotage and 39 Steps and were busy preparing for “tech week” when schools were forced to close their doors.
To Carrig, the first student to produce a show at the all girls high school, the timing couldn’t have been worse.
“I was really amazed and honored the school allowed me to produce the entire show, and it was a really big responsibility. We all worked so hard to make it great,” she said.
Katie said she began work on the Hitchcock project in the spring of her junior year.
Heartbroken that parents and the school communities would not be able to enjoy the fruits of their efforts, Carrig and UA drama teacher Joe Louden came up with a solution that may in fact be more dramatic than the stage production.
“Because this was supposed to be an enactment of three radio shows on stage, we decided to literally turn this into a radio show, performing just one of the three acts,” said Carrig.
Lodger, a 1927 British silent film is one of the earliest works by Hitchcock that revolves around the hunt for “The Avenger,” a Jack the Ripper-like serial killer who has just claimed the life of his 7th victim.
Each actor recorded their lines from home and then Carrig edited everything to create a dramatic 25 minute radio play for listening pleasure in your home.
“All of the cast recorded their lines separately and then I put them all together with a whole bunch of soundtracks,” said Carrig. “The only sound I didn’t make and none of my classmates made was the sound for rain. We had to find a royalty-free version of that because throughout all of The Lodger there’s a thunderstorm going on in the background. And that was a little hard to do without our rain sticks, which are at school,” said Carrig.
She also had to learn how to make special effects and reoccurring sound patters – like footsteps – at home.
“I followed a lot of professional sound making things, and they recommended things like how to make explosions or how to make car crashes. And the one thing was a crash box, which is a metal popcorn tin filled with debris, rocks, metal things, ceramics and then you shake it while popping a paper bag and it creates a relatively almost realistic, I guess, sounding explosion. I’ve never heard an explosion, so it couldn’t really say,” she says enthusiastically.
Making an entire show for a listening audience at home posed other challenges as well. Katie learned the ropes as sound engineer without the benefit of in-person collaboration with other teachers or students.
“I had never done audio editing before. So there was a big learning curve. I did the first five minutes in five hours. But I made the entire 25-minute show in under 10 hours.
If you have other plans for Saturday night, you can listen to the production now by clicking here.
“This is such an important story with the gravity of the situation placed upon our theaters and actors. It is truly a monumental challenge to overcome but this is one glimmer of hope in these trying times,” said Ursuline performing arts instructor Louden.
Kyle Nocket as the Announcer
Grace Smith as Woman, 5th victim
Izzy Coupe as Newsboy
Ellen Schlecht as Ellen Bunting
Carmen Rafalli as Robert Bunting
Michael Ignudo as Mr. Sleuth
Chloe Murtaugh as Daisy Bunting
Rachel Robbins as the Coroner
Bailey Robson as Mr. Cannot
Zoe Skibicki as the Ticket Seller
“This is a great tribute to our drama students across the entire Wilmington community and serves as encouragement to all to keep being creative in these difficult times,” he said.