'The Voice of the Prairie'

In an era where television and Internet govern lives, it can be hard to remember a time when the only form of entertainment was a voice on the radio. Marilyn Welch wants to bring back that time.

"I remember when radio was our only means of getting drama, entertainment, news," said Welch, who is directing "The Voice of the Prairie," Port Angeles Community Players' newest production. "When you got drama on the radio, you had to use your imagination."

Welch, who ended a seven-year hiatus from directing to help with this production, said the play takes place in 1923 with a Midwestern radio host named David, who enthralls audiences by telling stories of himself and his first love, a blind girl named Frankie.

The play jumps from 1923 to flashbacks to 1895 and back again, as young David, known as Davey in the play, recounts his adventures with young Frankie, as well as with his grandfather, Poppy.

"The past comes alive for the listeners with his storytelling," said Welch.

Frankie and Davey become separated and only reunite as adults, each older, wiser and now known as Frances and David.

Welch said her goal was to make the play as uncomplicated as possible, taking the audience back to a simpler time. The play consists of only eight actors, including two who play Frankie/Frances and two who play Davey/David.

"I have a very, very dedicated and good cast so that has made it much easier for me," said Welch of her return to directing.

Under Welch's direction, the play has limited props and sets, allowing the radio voice to take center stage. Instead of constantly changing sets, Welch said she plans to keep the background completely black and bring in simple props for each act: a bench, a stool, a desk. To show different locations or times, Welch said the actors utilize different parts of the stage instead of elaborate set changes.

"We're trying to have people use their imaginations," Welch said. "It didn't help you much in those days to look at the radio. You had to create characters in your imagination."

Who: Port Angeles Community Players

What: "The Voice of the Prairie" by John Olive, directed by Marilyn Welch

When: 7:30 p.m. on May 2-3, 6, 9-10, 13 and 16-17; 2 p.m. on May 4, 11 and 18

Where: Port Angeles Community Playhouse, 1235 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Port Angeles

Ticket: $10 at Odyssey Bookshop in Port Angeles or by calling 452-6651.
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