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Theatre production: +The Voice of the Prairie+ revisits radio show golden age

Jan. 24, 1997

Theatre production: 'The Voice of the Prairie' revisits radio show golden age

Matthew Lester/The Baylor Lariat

Mike Schraeder, a Riesel senior, performs with Andy Braner, a Little Rock, Ark., senior, in 'Voice of the Prairie.' The play starts tonight at 7:30.

By Robin Starnes

Lariat Reporter

The birth of radio is revisited with the University's production of 'The Voice of the Prairie.' John Olive's romantic comedy chronicals the story of Frankie, a blind girl, and Davey, an orphaned boy, through the medium of radio.

The play opens in 1895 with Davey traveling the country with his grandfather.

'Davey's grandfather teaches him how to tell stories,' said Brent Sykora, a Lorena senior who plays Davey. 'This is important because he spends much of the play telling his stories on the radio.'

Davey's grandfather dies, and the orphan then meets a blind girl named Frankie. The two resume Davey's life of traveling the country and become each other's family.

'Frankie is truly the only girl that Davey has ever loved,' Sykora said. 'She is even a little bit of a mother figure for him since he never knew his mother. Even though she's blind, she helps Davey to see.'

Frankie is important to Davey because after his grandfather's death he has nothing, Sykora said.

An unexpected event separates the two teenagers, and the setting then changes to 1923. Davey, now David, has become a farmer.

'David is still single even though he's not a bad-looking guy,' Sykors said. 'You find out that he's been looking for Frankie for his whole life and has never married.'

The medium of radio gives David the opportunity to search for Frankie across the entire country.

'Radio has just begun to spread across the plains of the United States,' Deborah Mogford, director of the play, said. 'And a radio announcer by the name of Leon Schwab asks David to travel with him and tell the stories that his grandfather taught him.'

Andy Braner, a Little Rock, Ark., senior, plays the adult character David, who is still in love with his childhood sweetheart.

'David finds a guy who gives him a chance to tell his life story on this new thing called radio,' Braner said. 'This is also a chance for him to look for Frankie.'

The play is about more than searching for lost love.

'In the process, Davey gets to explore the voice inside of himself,' Mogford said.

This play will be different from other previous University productions in several ways.

First, the department will be utilizing new technology.

'We have an incredible new lighting system and sound system,' Mogford said.

This will be the first production in which the department will use the new equipment.

Also, the play will have a more straight-forward message than some earlier productions.

'This will not be like 'The Cherry Orchard,'' said Sykora. 'It won't be quite as deep or artistic. It has an easy flow and should go over well with Baylor and Waco audiences. It's just a good play.'

The cast will perform 'The Voice of the Prarie' at 7:30 p.m. tonight, Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 with an additional performance at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Mabee Theater of the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center. Tickets are $7 and may be purchased at the theater box office between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays.

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