Gone are the days when families would gather around the radio to listen to their favorite serials together. But starting tonight, The Night Dial will bring some of that old-time entertainment back to Denver with a Halloween-themed horror radio play at the Bug Theatre.
The Night Dial is the brainchild of Denver filmmaker Richard Karpala and comic Ryan Mattingly, each of whom wrote one of the two stories on the bill. Karpala's tale, "Them Walkin' Shoes," began as an idea for a short film before morphing into its current form.
"It's basically about an old warden in Texas. He's passing on his baton to a younger guy," says Karpala. "The warden has a couple of stories about what he's in for, and basically the ghosts of the past come back to haunt him."
To help put together the play, Karpala enlisted the help of local comic Ryan Mattingly. While a funnyman might not be the most obvious collaborator for a horror play, Karpala said Mattingly pounced on the opportunity.
"He's very funny, very clever, and he also has a bit of a dark side," says Karpala. Mattingly ended up contributing a segment of his own, "Mine," and while Karpala won't share details, he says the story begins with a family heading to the mountains to celebrate their father's birthday.
To enhance the experience, The Night Dial is bringing in a live Foley artist to manually create sound effects -- footsteps, doors slamming, wind howling -- the way that the first radio broadcasters would have. They're also partnering with local composer Paul Buscarello to add a live score to the performance.
If all goes well, Karpala says he'd like to continue offering live radio plays, possibly on a monthly basis. And while future bills may not stick to horror stories, they'll certainly favor the fantastic.
"It would be horror, it would be fantasy, it would be sci-fi, or drama, or thriller," says Karpala. "I think this lends itself best to stories that focus the imagination, that make you see things that aren't there."
You can catch The Night Dial at the Bug Theatre at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, October 28 and Wednesday, 29. Tickets are $5 at the door.
Follow Adam Roy on Twitter at @adnroy.