Hollywood cast recreates sci-fi classics at Edison

Aliens and dinosaurs, inner space and outer space.

Oct. 3-4, L.A. Theatre Works, the nation’s foremost radio theater company, will return to Edison Theatre for a special double bill of science fiction thrills and chills.

The program — directed by Star Trek alumnus John de Lancie and featuring veterans of “The X-Files,” “Heroes” and “Star Trek: Voyager,” among others — will begin with H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds,” the mother of all space invasions. Then, following a brief intermission, the cast will shift gears for a subterranean expedition through Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World.”

“War of the Worlds” recreates the breathless pacing and convincing detail of the infamous 1938 radio play by Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre of the Air. Adapted by Howard Koch, one of Welles’ writers, this 60-minute “eyewitness report” of an invasion from Mars inadvertently started a nationwide panic (in part because Koch changed the story’s setting from Victorian England to a small town on the East Coast of the United States). Yet, the tale continues to fascinate, raising very contemporary concerns about the nature of the media as well as issues relating to the protection of borders and the environment.

“The Lost World,” adapted by de Lancie and television producer Nat Segaloff, follows the indomitable Prof. Challenger as he leads a four-person expedition to prove that prehistoric animals still exist. Traipsing deep into the Amazon jungle, the fearless explorers soon discover a place — and time — where dinosaurs have evolved beside ape-men, leaving the fate of the human race to hang in the balance.

De Lancie is perhaps best known for his role as Q on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” — a role he reprised on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Star Trek: Voyager” — and he also was the first actor to use the word “trek” on the series.

Other television credits range from “Battlestar Galactica” and “Stargate SG1” to “MacGyver” and “The West Wing.” In 1996, de Lancie and actor Leonard Nimoy co-founded Alien Voices, a radio company specializing in classic science fiction works, including “The Lost World” as well as “The Time Machine,” “The Invisible Man,” “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and many others.

The cast of six will be led by Jerry Hardin, a veteran character actor perhaps best known for his role as Deep Throat on “The X-Files.” Also starring are Tom Virtue, a “Star Trek: Voyager” alumnus perhaps best known as Steve Stevens on the Disney Channel’s “Even Stevens”; and Josh Clark, also of “Star Trek: Voyager” as well as “Heroes,” “ER” and “L.A. Law.”

Rounding out the cast are stage actor Kenneth Alan Williams; Jen Dede, of “ER” and “Gilmore Girls”; and Peter McDonald, who has appeared on “Becker,” “Wings” and “ER” as well as in numerous Los Angeles theatrical productions.

Over the past three decades, L.A. Theatre Works has emerged as the nation’s foremost radio theater company, producing more than 400 radio plays by writers such as Eugene O’Neill, Wendy Wasserstein, Neil Simon, David Mamet, Arthur Miller and many others performed by many of America’s top stage and screen actors.

The majority of the company’s productions are recorded in Los Angeles before a live audience and broadcast as part of their nationally syndicated program “The Play’s the Thing.” More than 7,000 libraries carry an extensive backlist of L.A. Theatre Works’ plays, while the company’s “Alive and Aloud” program produces teaching materials now used by 2,500 middle and high schools nationwide.

Performances begin at 8 p.m. both evenings and are presented by the Edison Theatre OVATIONS! Series.

Tickets — $28 for faculty, staff and seniors; $20 for students and children; $32 for the public — are available at the Edison Theatre Box Office and through all MetroTix outlets.

For more information, call 935-6543 or e-mail Edison@wustl.edu.

See the movie, then see the stage play, too

In conjunction with the L.A. Theatre Works production, Edison Theatre and the University City Public Library will host a free screening of the classic 1953 film adaptation of “War of the Worlds,” directed by celebrated special effects artist Byron Haskin.

The screening will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30, at the University City Public Library, 6701 Delmar Blvd.

A panel discussion on the power of the media, moderated by Richard Chapman, senior lecturer in screenwriting in the Film & Media Studies Program in Arts & Sciences, will immediately follow.

For more information, call 935-6543 or e-mail Edison@wustl.edu.