Friday, March 31, 2017

Jim French Productions Imagination Theatre Closes


In show business it's said "The show must go on" but alas this time it's not to be. Jim French's Imagination Theater takes its final bow as the curtain comes down on what some consider the last truly great radio drama production group in the United States. Citing age and health issues Jim French announced via the group's Facebook page that Imagination Theater would close and officially go off line effective March 19, 2017.

Imagination Theater produced a variety of original content: movies for your mind, single episode features, a one hour mystery playhouse, and several exceptional long running radio drama series. Among them The Hillary Kane Mysteries, Kincaid The Strange Seeker, Mr. Darnborough Investigates, Raffles The Gentleman Thief, The Adventures of Harry Nile, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes may have been the pinnacle achievement for Jim French productions. This series is one of the finest productions Sherlock Holmes productions ever created during any time period. The group regularly recorded live before a 500 seat studio audience in a local theater using live foley sound effects and music. The live shows brought back shades of the glory days of radio drama. Their consistent and wide spread presence on the radio proved that radio drama, when done right, can still draw a large scale listening audience. Their shows were classic in nature, a throwback to the golden age of radio drama and a hit with listeners.

For 20 years Imagination Theater was America's premiere radio drama group being heard Coast to Coast, in Canada and in Australia. It featured award winning scripts and sported a talented pool of regular actors. Among them were Larry Albert, Pat French, John Patrick Lowrie, Terry Rose, John Armstrong, Kathryn Shield, Dennis Bateman, Gary Schwartz, Ellen McLain, Mary Anne Dorward,  Lee Paasch, Rick May, John Gilbert, and Phil Harper. Many big name Hollywood guests graced the productions as well, including Patty Duke, Russell Johnson, Tom Smothers, Keenan Wynn, Roddy MacDowall, Ruta Lee, John Astin, Harry Anderson and Richard Sanders.

Imagination was the beacon in the night; the star that shined the brightest. Their success was the goal to which many a radio dramatist aspired. Sadly we say goodbye to Imagination Theatre. This wonderfully talented group will be sorely missed. They leave a giant hole not only in the air waves but in the hearts and minds of many, many listeners.

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