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MOV Players to present classic radio show ‘The Hitch-Hiker’

MARIETTA — “The Hitch-Hiker” by Lucille Fletcher will be presented by the Mid-Ohio Valley Players in the 15th installment of WMOVP Radio Theatre at 8 p.m. Friday on Zoom.

To view the performance, join on the webinar link at 8 p.m. at https://mariettacollege.zoom.us/j/93626779110 or call in to hear the audio at 301-715-8592 or 312-626-6799, Webinar ID: 936 2677 9110. If unable to join the performance, it will be available on the Mid Ohio Valley Players Facebook page as a premier video at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The social-distancing initiative started when theaters were closed because of the pandemic. This week, WMOVP Radio Theatre kicks off a month of trick or treat with “The Hitch-Hiker,” first presented on Nov. 17, 1941, on “The Orson Welles Show” on CBS Radio and later adapted for a 1960 episode of “The Twilight Zone.”

“When I was looking for a couple offerings for our October shows I wanted something that would chill our audience, but not be filled with the typical horror and gore we often get this time of year,” Director Suzanne Walker said. “In the introduction to ‘The Hitch-Hiker,’ Orson Wells wrote, ‘A story doesn’t have to appeal to the heart, it can also appeal to the spine.’ I knew this was the show I wanted to do.”

In the story Ronald Adams, portrayed by Dyrk Conrad, drives cross-country from Brooklyn to California. On a rainy morning as Adams leaves for his destination, he sees a man on the Brooklyn Bridge who seems to be waiting for a lift, but as he drives across the country, Adams sees the hitchhiker again and again and again.

Mack McHale plays the hitchhiker.

“I’m always waiting. I’m waiting until we meet on some long, lonely road,” McHale said. “Your time has come. I will always be just ahead.You cannot escape me.”

Angie Shrader, a seasoned actor and a newcomer to WMOVP Radio Theatre, said the social distance theater “is a fun challenge.”

“Even though you can see your scene partner, there’s still a bit of disconnect. You really have to pay special attention to them to act out the action of the scene since you can’t touch them or really have a set and props to work with,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed the experience.”

Becca Buck has become a veteran of social distance theater both from behind and in front of the camera.

“This is truly a never-ending learning experience. We’ve come such a long way manipulating Zoom to work in our favor than we ever deemed possible. This week you will find us adding yet even more tech layers to our shows,” she said. “Not only are we doing what we love with people we love, but we are starting to become more tech savvy than we’ve ever been.”

The performance on Friday is part of the ongoing fundraising campaign for the Mid-Ohio Valley Players.

“We really appreciate everyone who has given in response to the WMOVP Radio Theatre series. It has helped keep the bills paid,” Troupe President J.R. Wells said.

Performance theaters have been unable to open since March and presently are restricted to only 15 percent of capacity, so community theater groups are having to rely on the generosity of supporters, he said.

“The goal of the pledge drive is $20,000 which will help us to meet overhead costs and continue to work on renovations now that the new roof is in place,” Wells said. “Producing original scripts, offering creative outlets for actors, directors and technicians, educating the next generation through Junior Players and Youth Theatre and providing family entertainment for the valley is what it’s all about and we need the community’s help.”

The group has reached $7,000 and is hopeful people will respond to an evening of quality entertainment. Contributions can be made on line at movp.org or by mailing a check to the Mid Ohio Valley Players, P.O. Box 814, Marietta, OH 45750.

The next show will be 8 p.m. Oct. 23 with the second trick or treat offering of the month, the “39 Steps” that was made into a movie in 1935 by Alfred Hitchcock. The show will be directed by Vanessa Rake.

Cast of “The Hitch-Hiker:”

* Announcer: Jeff Walker

* Adams: Dyrk Conrad

* Mrs. Adams: Jena Blair

* Hiker: Mack McHale

* Attendant: Sean Shoop

* Storekeeper: Charles Roberts

* Woman: Becca Buck

* Operator 1 & 3: Angie Shrader

* Operator 2: Beth Lane

* Operator 3: Angie Shrader

* Operator 4: Jena Blair

* Mrs. Whiney: Eliz Kinser

* Director: Suzanne Walker

* Sound Design: Beth Lane

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