CASABLANCA – Live Radio Play

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” – Rick Blaine – Casablanca

Featuring Jorinde Weinmann, Thomas Wahrlich, Steven Jones, Robin Anderson, David Burmedi, Florian Eisentraut, Martin Jelonek, Ravi Kanth – Photos by Uka Meissner deRuiz

NEAT is proud to present another Live Radio Play in our ongoing series honoring the Golden Era of Radio. Director David Burmedi writes the following about his latest theatre project:

Casablanca.  My love affair with Hollywood movies goes way back, and if I were ever going to stage one, Casablanca was always near the top of the list.  There are really so many Hollywood movies to choose from.  And they all have universal appeal.  But in terms of script-genius, it is hard to top Casablanca.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  I was determined to retain the radio show format that worked so successfully for our production of It’s A Wonderful Life.  Live sound effects, a must.  Throw in a couple of humorous radio advertisements to carry us back in time.  And of course, plug in the electronic Applause sign.

What’s new this time around?  You get a table at Rick’s American Café.  You step into the film.  You sip your drink and watch the action unfold.  Sam plays his piano at your elbow, and the backdrop is a blow up from the original Hollywood film set.  What could be cooler than that?

It begins as a radio show and ends as a film.  You start as a passive observer, but by the time you sing along to Knock on Wood, you begin the slow inevitable slide into celluloid.  And by the end, you’re feeling the heat and desperation of this fabled city in Morocco. 

But bringing a film to the stage has its own particular challenges.  You can’t have everything.  The elements that make Casablanca one of the greatest films of all time – in particular, the cinematography and the music – cannot be reproduced live.  We can’t film through gauze to make Ilsa’s complexion flawless, or have an orchestra play the Marseillaise and triumph over the Watch on the Rhine.  Creating artillery fire on stage would just piss off the neighbors, wouldn’t it?  So what can we do? 

In the end, it’s all about the writing.  A big story, about taking sides, and doing the right thing.  About being torn between love and duty.  About casting aside cynicism in a world that is falling apart and returning to the ideals you once held.  That’s Rick’s story, but there are no small roles in Casablanca.  Every character embarks on their own journey and some end up very far from where they began.  Which is why we gave the actors in our “radio studio” the right look – Rick in his white dinner jacket and bow tie, a fez for Ferrari, a smart French policeman’s uniform for Renault.  Because we know these characters – they are the stuff of Hollywood legend – and rightly so.

Welcome to a different kind of radio play.

PERFORMANCES Thursdays, November 4. / 11. / 18. / 25. at 20:00 hrs in THEATER AM OLGAECK



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