The War of the Worlds


Airing October 30, 8:00 pm on WGLT 89.1 FM

Heartland Theatre Company announces a thrilling performance ofthe classic radio drama, The War of the Worlds, an episode of the Mercury Theatre On the Air directed and narrated by actor Orson Welles. It was originally performed and broadcast live as a Halloween episode on Sunday, October 30, 1938, over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network.

Broadcast from New York’s Mercury Theatre, the famed radio play, based on the novel by H. G. Wells, had many terrified listeners convinced that an actual alien invasion of Earth was taking place. The orginial script by Howard E. Koch, co-writer of Casablanca, detailing the frightening tale of an extraterrestrial takeover, continues to thrill and chill audiences, even today.

Heartland Theatre’s production, professionally audio-recorded, will be broadcast on WGLT, Bloomington-Normal’s Public Media, at 8:00 pm on October 30th. Listeners can tune in to 89.1 FM or stream at WCBU, Peoria Public Radio, will also air The War of the Worlds simultaenously at 89.9 FM or

“WGLT and WCBU are proud to partner with Heartland Theatre Company and help bring The War of the Worlds to a wider audience,” said R.C. McBride, general manager, WCBU & WGLT. “Radio brings people together even when COVID-19 restrictions require we remain apart. WGLT and WCBU have been a longtime cultural arts partner in the community, and extending air-time to our friends in need during the pandemic is a no-brainer and a win-win.”

Directed by Rhys Lovell

Sound Designer/Audio Engineer – Aaron Paolucci

Featuring these actors from our community:

  • Announcer 1 (CBS Announcer) – Ariele Jones
  • Announcer 2 – Connie de Veer / Kyle Schiebel (Understudy)
  • Announcer 3 – Chuck Pettigrew
  • Announcer (Rooftop) – Vicky Snyder
  • Carl Phillips – Wesley Skym / Dean Brown (Understudy)
  • Professor Richard Pierson – Mark de Veer / Jeff Ready (Understudy)
  • Policeman – Rhys Lovell
  • Mrs. Wilmuth – Carol Scott / Helen Engelbrecht (Understudy)
  • Brigadier General Montgomery Smith – G. William Zorn / Lolu Jimoh (Understudy)
  • Harry McDonald – Dave Krostal / Rhys Lovell (Understudy)
  • Captain Lansing – Jessi Reid-Swiech / Lynda Rettick (Understudy)
  • Secretary of the Interior – Dean Brown / G. William Zorn (Understudy)
  • Officer – Jeff Ready
  • Gunner – Carson Grey
  • Observer – Braden Tanner
  • Commander Voght – Abby Scott/Gayle Hess (Understudy)
  • Operator One – Rich Tinaglia
  • Operator Two – Jessielee Hinshaw
  • Operator Three – Minette Donhardt
  • Operator Four – Chris Stucky
  • Operator Five – Jennifer Maloy
  • Stranger – Dave Montague/Scott Myers (Understudy)

Rehearsals for the radio drama during the COVID-19 pandemic were conducted entirely on Zoom, with final audio-taping in a large room, with actors arriving at different times, and socially-distanced during the taping.  The recording is taped and edited by Aaron Paolucci, Sound Designer.

The idea for the project came to Lovell, who was trying to find alternative theatre content during the Pandemic, as a way to maintain Heartland’s vital artistic presence in the community. Lovell talked with WGLT News Director Charlie Schlenker about the possibility of recreating the drama on WGLT, in the same style as the 1938 drama with Orson Welles.

Heartland Theatre Company has been providing provocative plays for the Central Illinois region since 1986. Located in Normal for nearly 35 years, Heartland is known for the quality of its productions and its 10-Minute Play Festivals. Heartland, along with all other theaters in the country, have been hard-hit by the restrictions of the Coronavirus.

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