'Martians over Brooklyn' recreates infamous radio broadcast

A radio series drama called “The Mercury Theatre on Air” had a Halloween special on Oct. 30, 1938. The special, narrated and directed by Orson Welles, was titled “War of the Worlds.”

The plot of “War of the Worlds” was that aliens were attacking Brooklyn. Some listeners misunderstood and believed that extraterrestrials were actually taking over the world. The broadcast was followed by a widespread panic over the city.

The drama club’s latest production, “Martians Over Brooklyn,” told the story of both the infamous radio broadcast and the reaction of the local citizens.

Tomi Dres was the director, and Erin Palmer was the technical director for the show. Palmer has directed over a dozen productions for the Dexter Drama Club.

She says this set design was especially unique.

“Our set is actually split between a neighborhood in New York and a radio station for the entire show,” Palmer said.

Orson Welles was played by senior Tyrus Caldwell. He, along with the rest of the actors in the radio station, had to work with live props to make it sound as though aliens were invading for the “broadcast.”

Palmer was excited to see Caldwell in his first main-stage production.

“He’s kind of a character in everyday life,” she said. “He’s got so much energy; it just brings the whole play to life.”

According to Palmer, Caldwell and senior James Fischer, who played an unhinged grandfather, “had the time of their lives up there.”

Palmer found Fischer’s character especially interesting.

“(The grandfather) is kind of crazy. He thinks he’s a civil war veteran,” Palmer said. “Then he starts yelling about martians, and it’s like the boy who cried wolf. Nobody believes him at first.”

The New York apartment has many different characters, each of whom have a unique reaction to the “alien invasion.”

Some lead actors in the neighborhood included senior Havah Roussell, the owner of the apartment complex; freshman Owen Brooks, the comic book-loving kid who thinks there could be nothing cooler than an alien invasion; and sophomore Alexis Benson, who wishes to marry an alien.

The multitude of leading roles is an aspect Palmer thinks viewers enjoyed during “Martians Over Brooklyn.”

“A lot of people have a lot of lines. It’s very much an ensemble piece,” Palmer said. “Who wouldn’t want to come and watch a bunch of their friends have fun on stage?”