FROM LEFT, Leonard Marcotte, Autumn Bernier Siegel, Ava-Marie Cabral, Al Martorelli, Shirley Bernier and Ray Siegler at rehearsal for Harpswell Community Theater’s annual summer show. The radio theater-style show features animal costumes and hand puppets. EMILY COHEN / THE TIMES RECORD

FROM LEFT, Leonard Marcotte, Autumn Bernier Siegel, Ava-Marie Cabral, Al Martorelli, Shirley Bernier and Ray Siegler at rehearsal for Harpswell Community Theater’s annual summer show. The radio theater-style show features animal costumes and hand puppets. EMILY COHEN / THE TIMES RECORD

HARPSWELL

For the first weekend in August, Centennial Hall in Harpswell will be transformed into a radio station, playing the oldies and retro radio theater skits in Harpswell Community Theater’s annual summer show, “A Day at W.H.C.T.”

In HCT’s 15-year history, it has put on plays ranging from one act to three, but this is the third year that HCT will put on a show in the radio-theater format. Actors are costumed and in character, but they may read off scripts, as if they were in a radio broadcast studio.

The style hearkens back to popular radio dramas and programs prior to the ascendance of television, said Shirley Bernier, who wrote, produced and directed the show, and will also be acting in it. Shows such as “Little Orphan Annie” would ritually bring families together around a radio in the evening.

The premise of “A Day at W.H.C.T.” is a modern-day radio station where the station manager and disc jockey, played by HCT’s longtime technical director Ray Siegler, is airing old tapes that he found digging around in the basement.

“ It could be a country western show, or it could be a variety show, a detective show,” said Bernier, “which allows us this freedom to not have to stick to a particular theme.

“And in order to deal with intermission,” she laughed, “ he’s going on lunch break.”

The radio-style show is flexible for both the writer and actors in the show, who range in age from five to 85. Bernier, who has been doing theater for more than three decades, decided to shift HCT’s productions to the format to make it easier on the actors, whose busy schedules in the summer make it difficult to have many rehearsals per week and memorize a script.

It works well for the small community theater, where the primary goal is light- hearted entertainment and the actors are self-proclaimed amateurs. They’ll dress up in wolf costumes, devil costumes and lobster costumes to make the audience laugh. They may even get an Elvis impersonator to sing a couple songs.

Actors Leonard Marcotte and Al Martorelli joined HCT years ago because they loved to perform for others.

“ I’m just a big ham at heart anyway,” said Marcotte.

Martotelli agreed: “You have to be a ham, and you have to love to be on stage and hear applause.”

“And to do this kind of stuff, you have to be humble,” Marcotte added with a chuckle, thinking of the kinds of costumes he’s worn throughout the years and will surely wear again.

When the audience is neighbors and family like it is for HCT’s performances, the stakes are low and the spirits are high, no matter what happens on stage, said Bernier.

“Everybody knows everybody,” she said, “so when they see their friend up here, if we flub it up they don’t care. It’s very, very forgiving, and not to mention fun.”

IF YOU GO …

WHAT: HCT’S Annual Summer Show: “A Day at W.H.C.T.”

WHERE: Centennial Hall, Harpswell Neck Road, Harpswell

WHEN: Aug. 3-4 at 7 p.m., Aug. 5 at 2 p.m.

HOW MUCH: $5 tickets to reserve or available at door

INFO: (207) 376-5168

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: