Bricolage's Midnight Radio tunes in to nostalgic medium

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Think of it as old-fashioned radio for new-age audiences, or "Prairie Home Companion" on Red Bull.

Bricolage Production Company's "Midnight Radio Summer Smackdown Series" will offer a monthly episodic radio series written and performed live by area writers and actors, complete with honey-voiced announcers, audience-participation opportunities, commercial breaks and vintage vinyl sound effects.

"It's a new spin on a nostalgic medium with a Pittsburgh feel," explains Tami Dixon, Bricolage's producing artistic director. "This is really exciting for us. It delivers a whole new audience."

At the core of each show is a trio of 10-minute radio episodes beginning Friday night with "Daily Bread Hour of Prayer Power" by Sloan MacRae, "Connie Frankenstein presents 'Siamese Twins Meet The Thing With Two Heads' " by Michael McGovern and "Monongahela" by Lissa Brennan.

Like an old-time radio variety show, the episodes will be interspersed throughout the 70-minute show along with performances by local musicians, a Mad Lib radio minute created through audience participation, a super secret decoder message moment (Decoder rings available for purchase in the lobby), haiku corner and a special public service announcement spotlighting a local arts group.

At the end of the evening, audience members will vote on which radio episode will become a finalist.

Shows in July and August will each introduce three additional radio series shows, one of which will continue on to the finals in September.

In September, second episodes of the three successful shows will compete for prizes which will include cash and an opportunity to be showcased on a real radio station, WYEP-FM.

The evening begins at 9:30 p.m. with a cocktail half-hour during which audience members are encouraged to mingle, contribute verbs, adjectives or nouns for inclusion in the show's Mad Lib segment or compose a 22-syllable haiku poem that may be read by a celebrity host.

Though it's called Midnight Radio Hour, the show should conclude sometime between 11 and 11:10 p.m., Dixon says.

"It's not literal,"she explains. "It's the idea of midnight. ... It's a lifestyle, a metaphorical idea of midnight."