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Radio Players share spirit

of old-time showsT

Sound-effects engineer Bob Kulow adds to the fun of the radio play ‘The Mystery of the Steamtown Ghost.’

Dietrich Radio Players Pam Frazier, Barbara Jones, Jack Frazier and Pat Battesti will be part of a production that includes ‘The Mystery of the Steamtown Ghost’ and ‘Arsenic and Old Lace.’ It will be presented at noon tomorrow at the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton.

Dietrich Radio Players Pam Frazier, Barbara Jones, Jack Frazier and Pat Battesti will be part of a production that includes ‘The Mystery of the Steamtown Ghost’ and ‘Arsenic and Old Lace.’ It will be presented at noon tomorrow at the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton.

courtesy photo

o make the sound of a steam locomotive pulling into the station, Bob Kulow rubs two pieces of sandpaper against each other.

For a shrill train signal, he blows an actual whistle.

And to suggest air brakes? “Hah-sssss,” Kulow said, demonstrating how easily a hiss can pop from his mouth.

The sound-effects engineer from Mehoopany will be busy re-creating the rumblings of the railroad when the Dietrich Radio Players present an original play, “The Mystery of the Steamtown Ghost,” in the amphitheater at Steamtown Historical Site in Scranton tomorrow.

The play was written by Kulow’s boyhood friend, Dr. Robert A. Comunale of McLean, Va., and is a modified chapter of a book he’s writing as he slowly retires from the doctoring business.

“The story starts out in a little town in Alberta, Canada, before World War II,” Kulow said.

“It’s the usual boy-meets-girl. In fact, girl met boy about 10 minutes after girl was born. He was 2 years old, and it was love at first sight. They grow up and he enlists and is killed in World War II. The girl is rather distraught because they were going to be married when he came back …

“I think I’ll stop,” Kulow said, not wanting to give away too much plot.

To find out what the mystery is and why a ghost might appear, you may have to visit Steamtown tomorrow – or March 25, when a second performance is scheduled.

The shows are the latest offering of the Dietrich Radio Players, who have staged a half dozen radio plays during the past three years at the Dietrich Theater in downtown Tunkhannock.

The productions have celebrated the classic style of the Golden Age of Radio, which director Valerie Paulus remembers first-hand.

“I consider myself very lucky,” she said. “After school I sat and listened to ‘The Lone Ranger,’ ‘Amos and Andy,’ ‘Mr. Keene, Tracer of Lost Persons’ and ‘The Shadow.’ ”

To be involved after all these years with something that celebrates the spirit of those old-time shows, “It’s like a gift from God,” Paulus said.

The Radio Players’ presentation will include the radio version of “Arsenic and Old Lace” and an Abbott and Costello routine of “Who’s on First?” in addition to the Steamtown ghost story.

“We have so much fun at rehearsals,” Paulus said.

Much of the fun for the audience is watching the sound-effects man work his magic, said Hildy Morgan, executive director of the Dietrich Theater, who plays appropriately dramatic music on the keyboard to set the mood for performances.

“My favorite is when he does footsteps,” Morgan said.

“He has a high heel, and he pounds the high heel. And, when there’s crashing heard, he dumps things into a cardboard box.”

Kulow also has a wooden box equipped with a small door, knob and hinge, which helps him with coming-and-going sounds, an old rotary phone he can use for dialing and plenty of other odds and ends.

“This particular show is intensive, with a lot of footsteps, both on solid ground and gravel; nighttime crickets, morning birds chirping, and there’s a restaurant scene where you need background sounds.”

Does he rattle dishes for that last one?

“Actually, for that one, I cheated,” he admitted. “I have a recording from a bar.”

The Dietrich Radio Players will present “The Mystery of the Steamtown Ghost,” “Who’s on First?” and “Arsenic and Old Lace” at noon tomorrow in the amphitheater of the Steamtown Historic Site in Scranton.

The performance is free. For information, call 996-1500.

The Radio Players’ presentation will include the radio version of “Arsenic and Old Lace”

and an Abbott and Costello routine of “Who’s on First?” in addition to the Steamtown ghost story.

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