Old time radio shows being staged

Jay Pagliuca performs part of the staged “War of the Worlds” radio program while the Westfield High School Jazz Band is in the background in October 2015. (WNG file photo)

WESTFIELD – Westfield State University’s WSKB-FM and “J.P.’s Talk About Town” will present two 1940s-style radio mystery plays live on-stage on Saturday, October 21.

The plays – “The First Edition Matter, a Johnny Dollar Mystery,” and “Death, Literally,” an original comic murder mystery by Michael “Buster McMahon,”will both be presented at the Westfield State’s new Catherine Dower Performing Arts Center, starting at 7 PM.

The performances will be recorded and broadcast on Friday October 27th on WSKB-FM at 6:30 AM. The performances will also be uploaded to YouTube afterwards. 

“The First Edition Matter” features the character of Johnny Dollar, made famous in a CBS Radio series that ran from 1949 until 1962. Johnny Dollar was billed as “America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator,” and most episodes opened with Johnny getting a phone call from an insurance company official asking that he investigate a claim.

“The First Edition Matter” will feature some local notables, including Westfield News Publisher Patrick Berry, several Westfield Kiwanis Club members, and well-known radio personality Adam Wright.

“Death, Literally” is one of 30 short plays written by McMahon, “…mostly as a hobby because, I don’t know,” said McMahon, “You have to do something that somebody can say that you did in your obituary.”  

In the play, the lead character is a murder mystery author suffering from writer’s block, who is confronted by his female creation who is poisoned at a dinner party. She doesn’t want to die and wants to know who kills her, even though the author doesn’t know yet. Together they confront the denizens of the story to figure out the logical conclusion to the book. 

The cast of eight includes WSU alum business major Sue Fopiano (Smith) ’92 in the lead female role of Cassandra LaPree.

McMahon recently pitched a sitcom to the FX network and NBC. He is currently pitching one to the Disney Channel as well. 

Admission to the show is $5, with proceeds going to the Westfield State University Jazz Ensemble, which will provide the music during the performance.

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