OUTLOOK: Relive the 1938 Radio Drama: “The War of the Worlds” Comes Alive in Vicksburg Theatre Guild Production

Published 4:00 am Sunday, March 19, 2023

Perhaps there is no radio show episode more familiar than The Mercury Theatre on the Air’s broadcast of “The War of the Worlds.”

Narrated by Orson Welles and broadcast Oct. 30, 1938, the episode, intended to be a spoof for Halloween, was a fictional reporting of an extraterrestrial invasion. But when some listeners tuned in midway through the programing and heard the performers talking about Martians that had landed on Earth – they mistook the broadcast as real time news reporting and a bit of a panic ensued.

This iconic radio episode that rattled much of the country will once again be performed as the Vicksburg Theatre Guild presents, “War of the Worlds: 1938 Radio Script.”

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Don Hill, who is serving as the director of the production, said local cast members will be using the same script from the original broadcast allowing audience members to step back in time during the Golden Age of radio.

However, while the show was originally intended for listeners only, Hill said there will be a few surprises during the VTG production to enhance the audience experience including recreating the old CBS radio station.

“Being a first-time director, I wondered how this (the play) would look visually, he said, because it wouldn’t be very entertaining to just watch actors read their scripts. Therefore, Hill, along with his production crew, which is comprised of his wife, Lisa, and Jason and Hope King, converted the stage into a 1930s radio station.

And while there are visual elements for the audience to enjoy, Hill said to ensure the actors honed in on the radio performance, he called in a professional – Mark Jones, the local owner of WVBG 105.5 FM and 1490 AM radio.

“I brought in Mark Jones for an evening to listen to us and offer some critique since he has been in the radio business since the 1970s. I thought it would be beneficial for the cast to pick the brain of somebody who had been in radio for a long time,” Hill said.

Cast members for the local production include new-comer Brian Jordon, who will be taking on the role of Orson Wells, Preston Lanier, Nikki Ciciora, Jai Reeves, Shay Dixon, Ashleigh Holliday, Willie Thomas Jr., and Andrew Cochran.

“The War of the Worlds” is an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ science fiction novel of the same name and was written between 1895 and 1897.

Performances of the VTG’s “The War of the Worlds” will be offered at 7:30 p.m. March 24, 25, 31 and April 1 and at 2 p.m. March 26 at the Parkside Playhouse Theatre, 101 Iowa Ave. Tickets are $15, $10 for ages 65 and older and 12-18 and $8 for ages 12 and younger and are available at the box office or online at www.showclix.com/events/10243.

This is bonus play, Hill said, and not part of the membership season. For more information, visit www.e-vtg.com.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

email author More by Terri Cowart