“Dancing and singing over the wireless airways—how might it have happened? What might have been a dry history lesson is given delightfully appealing musical charm in Creative Cauldron’s world premiere production of On Air.” So led David Siegel’s review of the 2019 stage version. Now the original cast of that production reprises the show on the worldwide airwaves.
Creative Cauldron—in partnership with Duquesne University, LA TI DO Productions, and KDKA Radio—premieres a radio broadcast of its critically acclaimed Bold New Works musical On Air, written by Matt Conner and Stephen Gregory Smith. Originally planned for a live performance in Pittsburgh to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first mass broadcast, the musical has been adapted by the creative team into a radio and slideshow format featuring the original 2019 cast. (That year On Air received Helen Hayes Awards nominations for Outstanding Lighting Design – Helen and for Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical – Helen and won Outstanding Lead Performer in a Musical – Helen for Nora Palka.)
UPDATE 11/10/20: The On Air worldwide audio broadcast will premiere Monday, November 16, at 7:00 PM EST and remain available to stream anytime until December 13, 2020, on Creative Cauldron’s YouTube channel under the “premiere” feature—meaning that folks can watch together, chat during the broadcast, and join the creative team after for a talkback. Folks can also catch the show on either date any time before 1 am EST. Tickets are free but must be reserved.
November 2020 marks the 100th Anniversary of the first mass radio broadcast, which occurred in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the garage of Frank and Flora Conrad. On Air tells Frank and Flora’s story—how from humble beginnings, their efforts eventually lead to the formation of KDKA (now KDKA Radio), the first radio station. The production also chronicles the fight for women’s suffrage, the advent of media coverage of presidential elections, and the impact that radio had on society.
Matt Conner and Stephen Gregory Smith return to helm this adaptation, together with original cast members Nora Palka, Jimmy Mavrikes, Erin Granfield, Garrett Matthews, Robert Aubrey Davis, and Owen Thiebert. They are joined by notable Pittsburgh broadcasters Larry Richert and Jack Bogurt.
For tickets and further details go to www.creativecauldron.org or call the box office at 703-436-9948.
Matt Conner (Composer) has been performing, composing, teaching and directing in the DC area for twenty years. He was the recipient of the 2008-2009 AMERICAN MUSICAL VOICES PROJECT: THE NEXT GENERATION. His Produced Commissioned Works Include: Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA; Nevermore (2006), Partial Eclipse (2009), The Hollow (2011), Crossing (2013) and Silver Belles (2016). Matt was also commissioned for a Five Year Initiative at Creative Cauldron in Falls Church, VA. They include Turn of the Screw (2015), Monsters of the Villa Diodati (2016), Kaleidoscope (2017), W.I.T.C.H. (2018) and ON AIR (2019). Matt was awarded the Helen Hayes Award for Best Direction (Helen) for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast produced at Creative Cauldron (2020).
Stephen Gregory Smith (Book/Lyrics) has been an actor, choreographer, director, playwright, lyricist in the DC area for the past 20 years. As an actor, he has appeared in shows at the Kennedy Center, Ford’s Theatre, Arena Stage, Signature Theatre, Studio Theatre, Olney Theatre, Wolf Trap, Round House Theatre, Creative Cauldron, and many others. WRITING: Night of the Living Dead the musical-Kensington Theatre, Md, Richmond Shepard Theatre, NYC, New Line Theatre, St. Louis, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow– Shenandoah Conservatory, Winchester, VA, The Turn of the Screw, Monsters of the Villa Diodati, Kaleidoscope, W.I.T.C.H., ON AIR- Creative Cauldron, Falls Church, VA. UPCOMING: WHITECHAPEL– Synetic Theatre, Arlington, VA. Follow Conner and Smith at https://www.facebook.com/ConnerandSmith
Warren Freeman (Music Supervisor) has played leading musical theatre roles in every major city across the United States and Canada, including a career in New York City as a vocalist, cabaret performer, and voiceover artist. National Tours include Cats, The Sound of Music, and the Cameron Mackintosh 50th anniversary tour of My Fair Lady. As a music director, he creates original arrangements and orchestrations for the National Broadway Chorus, the American Pops Orchestra, and new musicals. Warren received his BFA in Musical Theatre from Penn State University and MM in Vocal Pedagogy from Shenandoah Conservatory. He teaches voice at Temple University, Shenandoah Conservatory, and New York University.
Jimmy Mavrikes (Frank Conrad) won the Helen Hayes Award for Best Actor for his role of Will in Girlfriend and has appeared in Cabaret, Signature Tenor’s Cabaret; Constellation Theatre Co, Wild Party (Burrs) [Helen Hayes nom. For Best Actor].
Nora Palka (Flora Conrad-Winner Helen Hayes Outstanding Performer in a Musical, Helen), was last seen at the Cauldron doing her solo cabaret this summer. Other DC area credits include: Girlstar, Gypsy and Best Little Whorehouse…(Signature Theatre), ShearMadness! (Kennedy Center).
Garrett Matthews (Dr. Harry P. Davis/Ensemble) appeared in 2010 at Creative Cauldron in Beauty and the Beast as Homer Zuckerman in Charlotte’s Web. National Young Arts Foundation Award winner, Erin Granfield,(Agnes Davis/Ensemble) most recently appeared at Creative Cauldron in the Holiday Cabaret Series and as Elmira in Nevermore. Eighth grader Owen Thiebert (Francis Conrad/Young Frank) has been in 12 Cauldron productions, including the role of “Oliver” in Oliver Twist and “Uncle” the pig in Charlotte’s Web.
Television and radio personality Robert Aubry Davis (Radio Voice) is a native Washingtonian and the creator and host of “Millennium of Music,” a program dedicated to music from the thousand years before Bach which is carried by more than 100 public radio stations nationwide/internationally. He is the host/moderator of WETA TV’s Emmy Award-winning weekly arts discussion program, “Around Town.”
Larry Richert (Narrator) is co-host of the KDKA Morning News with Kevin Battle weekdays from 5:00 – 9:00 am on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA. Larry is the public address announcer at Heinz Field for Pittsburgh Steelers home games, part of the University of Pittsburgh football radio broadcast crew and supporter of many charitable causes in the region. Jack Bogut (Narrator) joined KDKA in 1968 with hallmark feature “Home Movies on Radio” in which he focused on the listeners’ shared experience. He is the only broadcaster in Pittsburgh to have successful shows on four stations.
About Creative Cauldron
Creative Cauldron is a non-profit arts organization whose innovative programs in the performing and visual arts embody collaboration, experimentation and community engagement. Creative Cauldron was founded by Producing Director Laura Connors Hull in 2002. In June of 2009, Creative Cauldron acquired a permanent home in ArtSpace Falls Church, a 3,000 square foot flexible arts space that provides a venue for year-round classes, live performances of theater, music and dance and visual art exhibits. Programs are presented in part through grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Arts, the Arts Council of Fairfax County, the City of Falls Church and the Little City CATCH Foundation.
About LA TI DO Productions
Curated and hosted by Don Michael Mendoza and Regie Cabico, LA TI DO debuted to a full house in Washington, DC on January 23, 2012 at The Black Fox Lounge in Dupont Circle. Since then, LA TI DO became DC’s premiere musical theatre cabaret and spoken word series to serve the artistic community on a monthly basis. On June 9, 2013, the show opened a touring chapter in New York City, and Los Angeles in 2018.Recently, the company officially launched its newest chapter in Pittsburgh, PA virtually on June 8, 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
About Duquense University
One of the nation’s top Catholic Universities, Duquesne University was founded 140 years ago by the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. The Genesius Theater was dedicated in August 2015 to be used by ensembles for performances, as well as a space for production classes. The Duquesne University Center for Emerging and Innovative Media (CEIM) provides students with real world experience developing digital content and bringing key messages to an audience.
About KDKA Radio
KDKA Radio is the “Pioneer Broadcasting Station of the World”,and traces its beginning to its broadcast of the 1920 Harding-Cox presidential election results on the evening of November 2, 1920. Over the decades KDKA has gone from live broadcasts, to big band and jazz, to adult contemporary, and finally to talk radio.