The Shadow | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Shadow 

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"What evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows! Ha haa haaa haaaa haaa haa ha!'' John Hildreth has revived his superauthentic reenactment of this radio gem's final broadcasts. Using two actual scripts from the series and a team of actors who could have been pulled from the pages of Radio Weekly circa 1949, Hildreth treats the audience to an evening of suspenseful amusement and, more important, a rare glimpse into that all-but-extinct form, the radio drama. Cast changes have necessitated dropping one script from last summer and adding another, but the formula remains the same. In each episode mild-mannered millionaire Lamont Cranston stumbles onto a crime, usually by overhearing something at a cocktail party. He unfailingly unravels the evildoing with the help of his hypnotic powers, which make people think he's invisible. The inevitable moral? Crime does not pay! Returning cast members Michael Falls (as the Shadow), Maggie Carney (as Margot Lane, a radio diva with a scream that goes through your head like a nail), Mary Jo Bolduc (ingenue supplying sound effects and voices for a bevy of supporting characters), announcer Ben Powell, and the ever-crotchety Joe Tech Huppert on the Hammond organ ("It's not a piece of furniture--it's a finely tuned, sensitive instrument!") are sharp as ever. The stage and costumes (professional, elegant--no business casual here, even if it was pre-TV) reflect the period down to the tiniest detail. Extremely worthwhile, this AKA Rachel production has both historic and entertainment value. Athenaeum Theatre, second-floor studio theater, 2936 N. Southport, 312-902-1500. Through January 14: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM; Sunday, December 31, 10 PM only. $16. The December 31 show is $22 and includes a postshow party.

--Kim Wilson

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Dutch Jordan.


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