Friday, January 20, 2012

The Audio Drama World Mourns The Loss of One of The Greatest


Renowned audio dramatist Yuri Rasovsky passed away on January 18, 2012. He was a leading writer, director, and producer of both audio books and full-cast audio dramas. Mr. Rasovsky's drama productions included such classic titles as The Maltese Falcon (featuring Michael Madsen and Sandra Oh), Saint Joan (with Amy Irving), Sherlock Holmes (with Martin Jarvis and Kris Tabori), The Cabinet of Dr. Calagari (with John de Lancie) and The Mark of Zorro (with Val Kilmer).

Over his forty years as a writer, director and producer Yuri created hundreds of shows, worked with some of the best talent and won numerous awards, among which are two Peabody Awards, nine Audie Awards, and a Grammy. Two of his current works, The Mark of Zorro and Hamlet, are Grammy Award finalists for 2012.

Mr. Rasovsky despite fighting cancer for the past year continued to work. Within the last month he finished recording his final production Die, Snow White! Die, Damn You!

He was perhaps the greatest audio dramatist of the modern era and will be missed greatly. The world of audio drama will never be the same without him.

Some of the great audio drama productions of Yuri Rasovsky.

The Maltese Falcon - Received a 2011 Grammy Nomination.

The Mark of Zorro - Received a 2012 Grammy Nomination. Also nominated for two Audie Awards.

The Black Mask Audio Magazine - Winner of the 2010 Audie Award for Best Anthology.

St. Joan - Winner of the 2010 Audie Award for Best Audio Drama.

Sherlock Holmes Theater - Winner of the 2009 Audie Award for Best Audio Drama.

Sweeney Todd and the String of Pearls - Winner of of three 2008 Audie Awards for Best Audio Drama, Best Original Work and Achievement in Production.

Craven Street - Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.

 Die Snow White! Die Damn You! - The production of Yuri Rasovsky.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Radio Show LIVE!

Fans of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy will be pleased to learn that director/producer Dirk Maggs has reunited the original radio cast for a series of live onstage radio shows throughout the UK in 2012 . 

For schedule information follow the link:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Looking For The Best Professionally Produced Audio Dramas

Here's a dozen GREAT ones. These twelve are among the best professionally produced full-cast audio dramas from the modern era of radio drama.

1 . The greatest space-action sci-fi ever created:
     The Star Wars Trilogy - A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
     Starring Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, Brock Peters, Perry King and
     a star studded cast.

2. Swashbuckling's greatest audio drama adventure:
    Zorro fights injustice and oppression in Spanish California in the Grammy nominated
    The Mark of Zorro starring Val Kilmer, Ruth Livier, Armin Shimerman, Meshach
    Taylor and Elizabeth Pena.

3. More great sci-fi space saga this time in the Star Trek Universe.
    Star Trek Borg - John de Lancie is back as the infamous Q.

4. Hard-boiled detective adventure:
   The Maltese Falcon - Dashell Hammett's hard-boiled detective Sam Spade returns to radio
   drama with this Grammy nominated production that features a great cast of Hollywood

5. It's Murder! But fear not, Poirot is on the case:
    Agatha Christie's most ingenious mystery The Murder of the Orient Express featuring
    John Moffatt as the great Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.

6. It's elementary my dear Watson... The Game is afoot!
   Sherlock Holmes investigates in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most popular story of all-time...

7. Louis L'Amour brings you the old west at its best:
    Riding For The Brand featuring The Highwaymen (Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny
    Cash and Kris Kristofferson).

8. It's a far out, spaced out, groovy trip through the cosmos man.
    It's the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.

9.  It's swashbuckling fun with the BBC's The Three Musketeer's. Ride into action
     and adventure with Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D'Artagnan as they try to save
     the King and Queen of France.

10. South of Deadwood by Louis L'Amour:
      Ride into wild west adventure with Texas Ranger Chick Bowdrie. This is one lawman
      you don't want to shoot it out with.

11. Emma:
     Jane Austen's classic tale of misconstrued romance is perfectly presented by the BBC

12. Jehovah's Name To Be Declared In All The Earth:
      The Almighty God, Jehovah, brings ten plagues on haughty Pharaoh when he refuses to
      let his people go in this accurately based Bible presentation.

These are just a few of the many great radio drama titles produced in the modern era of audio drama which are highlighted here on the Radio Drama (Audio Drama) Spotlight.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Philip Marlowe - Private Detective

In 1946 Humphrey Bogart played hard-boiled private detective Philip Marlowe in the movie adaptation of Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep. That performance would spark interest in Philip Marlowe for decades to come and etch an expectation of Bogey's style and presence into the conscious fabric of fans of the character. Though Bogey never played Marlowe on radio his voice is the one that comes to mind first. When it comes to voices it's next to impossible to beat Bogart's.

Gerald Mohr took on the role of Philip Marlowe in the radio series The Adventures of Philip Marlowe on September 26, 1948. The series had been on the air for nearly 6 months with actor Van Heflin in the role of Marlowe. Heflin's portrayal, however, was flat leaving both Chandler himself and listeners disappointed. Mohr's impact on the series was immediate. He breathed new life into series. With his bold personality, tough voice and gritty take on Marlowe the series would run 3 more years ending on September 15, 1951. The Adventures of Philip Marlowe starring Gerald Mohr is a work of greatness still available and still appreciated by Marlowe fans to this day.

Raymond Chandler’s immortal private eye Philip Marlowe would once again make a return to radio. This time the BBC adapting Chandler's first 6 novels (The Big Sleep, The High Window, Farewell My Lovely, The Lady in the Lake, The Little Sister, and The Long Goodbye). UK-based American character actor Ed Bishop took on the role of Marlowe in these 90-minute presentations which would be produced and broadcast  between 1977 and 1988. Bishop's voice takes a bit of getting used to in the role of Marlowe but once that happens his performance is actually quite good. The production of these 6 Marlowe stories is very enjoyable and well worth listening to. The only downfall to these productions is that the female voices don't always fit the parts. Often times the women sound much older than the character being portrayed. This exception aside, these are very well made dramas.

In 2011 the BBC would once again commission the production of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe novels. This time producing all eight of his works (The Big Sleep, The High Window, Farewell My Lovely, The Lady in the Lake, The Little Sister, The Long Goodbye, Playback and Poodle Springs which was finished 30 years later by author Robert B. Parker). Toby Stephens would take on the role of hard-boiled P.I. Philip Marlowe and bring his own brand of toughness to the role. Stephens fits the part well and does the character justice. These productions are crisp, sharp and filled with kick your door in, knock your teeth out adventure. Marlowe fans will find these productions most enjoyable. The only downfall to this series is the sound effects. They're mixed well but the sound engineer missed on many of the period effects. Cars, trains, guns and at times telephone sound effects are often not from the era of the Marlowe stories. Anyone who's ever heard a 38 Packard or an Oldsmobile, Buick, Ford or Chevy from the 30s, 40s or 50s knows it doesn't sound like a Toyota or a Fiat. Most listeners probably won't notice these sounds being from the wrong time period but those with a trained ear will pick up on it immediately. Voice casting for this series was very good and the female voices were exceptional. Marlowe fans should be very pleased with the BBC's efforts to capture the essence of the hard-boiled detective created by Chandler.

The Best Swashbuckling Audio Dramas

1. The Mark of Zorro - By far the best swashbuckling audio drama ever made and arguably the best audio drama since the original Star War radio dramas. Based on Zorro creator Johnston McCulley's first ever Zorro story (originally titled The Curse of Capistrano) this one stars Hollywood actors Val Kilmer as Diego de la Vega/Zorro, Ruth Livier as Lolita Pulido, Armin Shimerman as the Tavern Landlord, Meshach Taylor as Sergeant Gonzalez, and Elizabeth Pena as Catalina Pulido. A great story highlighted by great acting and sound design makes this one an instant classic. Produced by Hollywood Theater of the Ear. The Mark of Zorro has been selected by AudioFile Magazine, Parade Magazine, and Sound Commentary as one of the best audio books of 2011 (technically The Mark of Zorro is an audio drama). It is also a 2012 Grammy Award nominee and a 2012 Audie Award nominee. Rumor has it there's a sequel underway though we are still attempting to confirm this.

2. The Three Musketeers - The BBC's superbly made rendition of Alexander Dumas tale of Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan vividly brings swashbuckling adventure to life. A great tale featuring great acting and sound design. The Three Musketeers is highly entertaining!

3. Zorro and the Pirate Raiders - Based on D.J. Arneson's adaptation of Johnston McCulley's second Zorro story The Further Adventures of Zorro. This tale is reminiscent of the old Saturday matinee cliffhanger serial adventures. A nail biter from start to finish Zorro and the Pirate Raiders is high octane swashbuckling fun. This production features a fine story, good acting, and great sound design. Kevin Cirone, Shonna McEachern, J.T. Turner, Hugh Metzler, Sam Donato, Joseph Zamperelli Jr, and Dan Powell star in this Colonial Radio Theater production.

4. Zorro Rides Again - The third of Johnston McCulley's Zorro stories. Based on the D.J. Arneson adaptation. Once again swashbuckling action comes to life as Zorro rides to save the day. An imposter is defaming the legendary masked hero by means of cruel misdeeds forcing Zorro to take swift action in order to preserve his name and his life. A thrill-a-minute fast paced fun story. Produced by Colonial Radio Theater this presentation features the same fine cast of actors as Zorro and the Pirate Raiders.

5. The Count of Monte Cristo - The BBC's fantastic production of Alexander Dumas gripping tale of revenge. Well written and wonderfully acted this 7 hour long drama will be certain to delight swashbuckling fans. 

6. The Scarlet Pimpernel - Though not a product of the modern era of audio drama the 1952 production of The Scarlet Pimpernel starring Marius Goring as Sir Percy Blakely (aka The Scarlet Pimernel) is a great swashbuckling audio adventure. This series featuring 52 half hour shows is undoubtedly the best production of Baroness Emmuska Orczy's fictional book about one man's fight to help those being oppressed by the French revolutionary government of 1792.

Featured above: Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon from the 1934 motion picture version of The Scarlet Pimpernel.

7. Black Bartlemy's Treasure - Jeffrey Farnol's swashbuckling novel of pirates, vengeance, love and death is expertly brought to sonic life in the outstanding BBC production. Set in England and on a desert island Martin Conisby seeks vengeance on Sir Richard Brandon.

8. Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale of pirates is well produced by the BBC. Captain Flint's treasure map has fallen into the hands of young Jim Hawkins. With the map comes adventure and danger. But the ship's crew is made up almost entirely of pirates who are lead by the one legged Long John Silver.

9. Captain Blood - Rafael Sabatini's great swashbuckling adventure is dramatized by Colonial Radio Theater. A rousing tale of pirates, love and high seas adventure awaits in this production.

10. The Man in the Iron Mask - Though not from the modern era, George Edwards 1948 Australian made production of Alexander Dumas classic novel is highly entertaining and well worth hearing. The series consists of Fifty-two 13 minute episodes.