Sunday Morning MSE presents War of the What?


Nov. 6, 2010
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Don't Look Up--Listen to WMSE

It goes without saying that the NBC drama The Event and the upcoming mega-budget action film Skyline come from a long-line of similar stories that stretch back a great many years. Possibly pre-dating the earliest science fiction, the alien invasion story is one that is deeply buried in human consciousness. One of the earliest modern treatments of the theme, H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds is one of the classics. It seems unlikely that it would be known all that well outside those who love the genre were it not for the work of an entirely different Welles. Though history has likely exaggerated its actual impact, Orson Welles’ 1938 Mercury Theatre War of the Worlds broadcast is one that is known by so many people that relatively few have actually heard it.

Some 72 years after the initial Mercury Theatre broadcast of War of the Worlds, Wisconsin Hybrid  Theatre will  be airing a comic parody of the old alien invasion drama on WMSE. War of the  What? airs tomorrow morning at 8am on 91.7 fm. WHT has been doing theatrical comedy in the style of old-time radio for quite some time now. They’ve worked on comedic parodies of some of the greatest classic works of fiction. Easily the single most famous broadcast from the golden age of radio, Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds is probably the biggest satirical target satirical target WHT has ever tried to hit. Hitting it in a respectably savvy way is going to be an interesting challenge for the group. WHT will be tackling the challenge with a remarkably good cast including Randall T. Anderson (in the role of actor Jack Farwell,) Jim Owczarski (in the role of Ira Hampton,) Sarah Laak Hughes (in the role of Allis Chase,) and Patrick Schmitz (in the role of Vaudevillian Wally Becher.)

As it is not actually part of the WMSE pledge drive, the full hour WHT has the opportunity to match Welles’ original live broadcast minute-for-minute. Those calling-in to pledge during the show may have their names worked-into the broadcast, which would be an interesting homage to those looking to support WMSE.

The one hour-to one hour conversion is not all that WHT’s Sunday morning broadcast will have in common with the original broadcast it is satirizing. According to WHT’s Charles Sommers, “The Mercury Theatre on the Air was a group of thespians who refused to admit that they were actually performing a work of fiction. On the other hand, Radio WHT performs works of fiction while refusing to hide that we are a group of actors.”

Wisconsin Hybrid Theatre presents War of the What?  Starting at 8 am on 91.7 WMSE Sunday, November 7th. It’s a performance set to be aired live during WMSE’s pledge drive. 


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