CBC Radio Play Reviews
School Curriculum Support Materials

CBC Mystery Theater | Wayne and Shuster CD | CBC Stage Series
WW 2 CBC Radio Drama
Order Form and Contact Info.

Toronto Star, Foreword Magazine, Reviewer's Bookwatch,
Canadian Press Newswire
, The Canadian Jewish News, Amazon

Four stories that originally aired on Canadian radio in the late 1960's capture the excitement and horror of the written text. The feature selections, W.W. Jacobs' "The Monkey's Paw," is a variation on the three-wishes fairy-tale theme: here payment for the wishes exacts a horrifying price. Listeners are drawn into a comfortable and uneasiness through the fine use of sound effects and dramatic narration. At first the British accents are a bit tricky, but the ear quickly adjusts to the phrasing and diction. The other stories are E.T.A. Hoffmann's The Mines of Falun and The Sandman and Otto Lowy's Double Strip. Best enjoyed for enrichment and relaxation. - Judy Morrissey Mystery Theater Volume 3 The Monkey's Paw (WW Jacobs) + 3 Other Radio Plays! (CBC)


Toronto Star
Books on Tape
Greg Quill
The Stage Series was classier in style and concept and had higher literary priorities, drawing on classic yarns and the works of eminent contemporary writers. The series was also responsible for drawing together what The New York Radio Times called "the best radio repertory company in North America", actors Barry Morse, Christopher Plummer, Lorne Greene, John Colicos, John Dranie, James Doohan and Jane Mallett, among others.
Scenario has also made available Alan King's five part radio series Nazi Eyes on Canada ( two cassettes, 2.5 hours) starring Orson Welles, Vincent Price, Helen Hayes, Judith Evelyn, House Jameson and Quintin Reynolds, and four volumes of original Mystery Theatre radio plays adapted and/or written for, produced by the CBC from 1966 to 1968. CBC Vintage Radio Plays: Canadian Old Time Radio Plays (OTR)

Foreword Magazine
May 2000
Cari Noga
Mystery Theatre Volume 4
Radio has been relegated to such background status today that it's difficult to imagine how people once gathered around it so expectantly. The four classics, three by Nathaniel Hawthorne, from the archives of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, however, will make people long for those days. Billed as four classic radio plays of mystery, suspense and horror,the plays do not rely on modern-day definitions of those genres, such as placing pauses in between episodes of violence. Instead, they draw upon the capacity of the human mind to seize upon and obsess over an idea, which lead to shocking results that are also often pitiful.
Since pity is one of the most horrible emotions to experience, either for oneself or on another behalf, the classification of the plays as horror is appropriate. All four are thoroughly absorbing, entertaining and thought-provoking. Mystery Theater Volume 4: 3 Mystery Stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne on Talking Books

JUNE 2000
Canada lies prostrate under the Nazi heel. The Swastika flies from the
Pease Tower in Ottawa. Deutschland uber Alles- the anthem at Toronto
City Hall. Women are shipped off the Gestapo labour camps.
What gives?
If you were listening to J. Frank Willis' radio series Nazi Eyes On
Canada, you might think that the unthinkable- the German invasion and
occupation of Canada- had come to pass. What couldn't happen has
happened, we're told in melodramatic tomes.
The five plays, featuring an all-star, dulcet-voiced cast led by Orson
Welles, Helen Hayse and Vincent Price, were based on reports written
by Colin Ross, a German spy who traveled through Canada on a
reconnaissance mission in the 1930's.
Broadcast during the darkest days of World War II, when German armies
were on the march in Europe and North Africa, Nazi Eyes On Canada was
past drama and part propaganda. It was ultimately designed to stiffen
Canadians resolve in the face of German military victories and to
rise money for Canadian war bonds. In the words of a stentorian
narrator, We won't win the war unless we put all efforts into winning
it.Now the plays, whose running time is two-and-a-half hours, are
available on two audio cassettes released by a Toronto company,
Scenario Productions.The first one, turning on the Welch family of
Toronto, incorporates a speech made by the nation by former prime minister
W.L. Mackenzie King a week before Nazi Eyes on Canada was aired. Denouncing Germany's lust for conquest, king declared that its satanic objectives was to
posses the world's soul.
The Welches, a typical middle-class WASP family of the era, are
crushed by the weight of Germany's occupation. Joe, a demobilized
soldier, is sent off to Germany to work in the mines. One of the
beautiful sisters is dispatched to an Aryan breeding camp. There is
no future and hope anymore, wails her distraught mother. Weigmann, a
Nazi administrator, retorts, There is no place for silly sentiments
in the new order. The second episode, which takes place on an Alberta ranch owned by
John and Cora Stevenson, emphasizes the theme of betrayal amid the
spectre of a family breakup. Dresser, the local Nazi heavy, requisitions the
Stevensons' cattle, horses and grain. And in a final indignity,
he places their 1-year-old daughter, Rosemary, under his protection. Thoroughly
brainwashed by Nazi teachers, Rosemary turns against her parents.
Meanwhile, brave Canadian ranchers retreat to redoubts in the Rocky
Mountains. The return as guerrilla fighters, blowing up oil wells. As
the play ends, Canada's finance minister urges Canadians to fight with
their hearts and souls to defeat Germany.
In the next play, the focus shifts to Sandy Smith and his family,
residents of a town in the Maritimes. They, too, resist the predatory
The subsequent play is set in Vancouver, and the focuses on the
imaginary takeover of British Columbia by Japan, Germany's Axis ally.
Bob Maxwell, a solid patriotic citizen, battles the sly and
contemptible Hadaka, an ethnic Japanese fisherman who collaborates
with Japan.
The last play unfolds in the prairies. German panzer divisions have
overrun Canada and the Luftwaffe has rained death and destruction on
Canadian cities.
If nothing else, Nazi Eyes On Canada reminds us of a perilous time
when western civilization hung in the balance

Nazi Eyes on Canada: Vintage Radio Plays - OTR - CBC History top

Canadian Press Newswire, My 31'00.
Title: Classic CBC radio dramas revived on audio tape

Yes, yes, it was Marlon Brando's closing line from the film Apocalypse

But imagine Lorne Greene as Kurtz delivering the famous death quote

Imagine no longer, because Heart of Darkness, a 1954 CBC Radio drama
version of the Joseph Conrad novel, lives again as part of a series of
audio tapes offered by Toronto's Scenario Productions.

In addition, the series includes The Investigator, also from '54,
starringJohn Drainie as an arrogant Joseph McCarthy-type politician facing his
own inquisition at the pearly gates. Other classic titles available
include The Monkey's Paw, Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart, and _ a genuine wartime
rarity _ Nazi Eyes on Canada. American stars Orson Welles, Helen Hayes
andVincent Price came to Toronto for the series of live broadcasts as
part of the allied war effort.
Actors include Greene, Drainie, Christopher Plummer, John Colicos,
JohnVernon, Jack Creley, Barry Morse, Eric Christmas and even James Doohan
(later Star Trek's Scotty). Live orchestral music was provided by
Lucio Agostini
Drainie was considered Canada's finest radio actor and shines in The
Investigator as the McCarthy-like lead. While the story, written by
ReubenShip and produced and directed by Andrew Allan, comes across as a bit
overdone by today's standards, it must have been a courageous act in
1954 to mock the American communist witchhunts.
`They talked about it, apparently, in the U.S. Senate. It was
bootlegged in the U.S. They made a book out of it,'' says Bornstein.
Five of six weekly episodes of Nazi Eyes on Canada _ a radio
equivalent totoday's TV mini-series _ were also found and restored. Bornstein
laughs at what he learned about the 1942 project. Apparently, Welles was late
forthe live broadcast of his instalment (no tape in those days) and actor
J.Frank Willis had to read some of his introductory lines.
The series, which Greene narrated, sought to dramatize what would
happen to Canada if Nazi Germany won the war and took over.
Heart of Darkness (Conrad) with The Investigator by Ship top

Foreword Magazine Review:
In the early part of the twentieth century, families gathered around radios to be entertained by a new play. Repertory companies made up the cast of voices for these plays. Voices came through the radio, taking their audience on adventures by ingenious use of words, inflection, sound, and even silence. The Heart of Darkness and The Investigator are two plays now available as audiobooks. These vintage plays entertain while parodying history, inviting the history buff, the lover of words, and those seeking to examine man's subconscious on a journey of sound waves. Conrad's The Heart of Darkness is said to be one of the most thought-provoking and controversial plays of its time. Marlow, Conrad's narrator, recounts a tale of his experience in 1889 while piloting a steamboat up river in Africa. His mission involved locating an agent for a Belgian company engaged in the profitable ivory trade. Marlow's tale delves into many areas: race, colonization, imperialism, and the light and darkness that lurk in man's soul. The play could be summarized in these words spoken by the agent Marlow was to find: "The horror, the horror." Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 film, Apocalypse Now retells Conrad's story in another setting but with the same air of darkness.

Heart of Darkness should be listened to closely in order to find the story within the story. Also it may take a few minutes to acclimate oneself to the sounds of the Congo competing with the sometimes-excited clipped voices.

After The Heart of Darkness, one will be ready for a little intellectual relief, although Ship's The Investigator still requires some knowledge of history to allow full enjoyment of this parody of the McCarthy era.

Killed in a plane crash, the investigator finds himself in a strange place, standing with the gatekeeper in heaven. He will have to be investigated in order to past through the pearly gates.

The play takes on all the characteristics of the McCarthy era. The Red scare in heaven involves reopening files of souls already in heaven that are suspected as subversives. Socrates, Thomas Jefferson, Karl Marx, Martin Luther, and Abraham Lincoln are all suspect. The play invokes the same paranoia and political backstabbing as history records. In the end the play echoes words spoken by the investigator at the beginning of the play but with much comedy, "I am the chief, I am the chief."

Copyright © 2000 ForeWord Magazine. All Rights Reserved.

interesting interpretation of Conrad's short masterpiece, August 26,

Reviewer: Hsieh ker-lian (see more about me) from Taipei, Taiwan I am glad finally there is a audio play available for this time-honored sea story by Joseph Conrad. Although the narrative has been omitted in this production, the essence and the mood have well kept and best of all, the sound quality is still in top form even though it was produced in the fifties. This is really a vintage radio play at its best, I am sure it will delight fans of the golden age of radio.

Joseph Conrad, Reuben Ship
Read by a Full Cast
Scenario Productions, 2000 / ©1951
Number of cassettes: Two / 2 hrs.
ISBN 1894003101 / 18.99
Audio Theater Book pak

Canadian old-radio drama is just as good as the best of
the U.S. shows. These two Canadian Broadcasting Corporation shows from
the 1950s feature stellar casts, effective staging and excellent use of sound effects to enhance the stories. Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS is rendered here in its full anarchistic gloom, with a pre-"Bonanza" Lorne Greene as the wasted and haunted Mr. Kurtz. THE INVESTIGATOR cleverly parodies the McCarthy hearings with a distinctly Canadian sensibility. One minor quibble: The noise-reduction used here makes voices pump forward out of silence, bringing with them the random clicks and pops from the CBC's aged transcription records. It's disconcerting at times. T.F. ?AudioFile 2000,
Portland, Maine [Published: OCT/NOV 00]

Lewis Carroll
Read by a Full Cast
Scenario Productions, 2000 / ©1947
Number of cassettes: Two / 2 hrs.
ISBN 18900311X / 18.99
Audio Theater Book pak

Toronto radio-drama troupe Scenario Productions, under the direction of founders Mark Bornstein, unearthed a vault of lost CBC radio dramas from the 1940s and '50s. Among these are a number of recordings from the Canadian broadcasters' flagship program, "The Stage Series." The adaptations of ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND and THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (each on a separate one-hour cassette) are very faithful to Carroll's work, even if not as smooth as the Disney film. S.E.S. ?AudioFile 2000, Portland, Maine [Published: OCT/NOV 00]

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland / Through the Looking Glass

Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frederick Spoerly
Read by a Full Cast
Scenario Productions, 2000
Number of cassettes: Two / 2 hrs.
ISBN 1894003098 / $18.99
Mystery & Suspense Retail pak

This CBC reproduction of four Nathaniel Hawthorne thrillers is a superb collector's item for radio theater buffs, as well as fans of Hawthorne's short stories. Perhaps the most appealing part of this collection is that the stories are faithfully reproduced from the originally aired recordings of the late 1960s. There are no added contemporary introductions, as are often included in other nostalgia radio programs. What listeners receive is a pure version of the performances--brilliantly acted and chock full of sound effects that will draw audiences right into the stories. R.A.P.
AudioFile 2000, Portland, Maine [Published: OCT/NOV 00]

Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Alan King, Dorothy Davis
Read by a Full Cast
Scenario Productions, 2000 / ©1843
Number of cassettes: Two / 2 hrs.
ISBN 1894003055 / $18.99
Audio Theater Retail pak

The Mystery Theatre series collects several chilling tales originally broadcast in the 1960s and presents them in four-packs of fear. This first volume features well-loved classic tales, as well as some lesser-known pieces. The first cassette treats mystery lovers to "The Tell-Tale Heart," told as frighteningly as it ever was in any dank parlor or at any camp fire. "The Kitchen Table" gives domesticity an ancient twist. On the second cassette, the British double-header (including a Sherlock Holmes story) balances the production like a mystery travelogue. R.A.P. ©
2000, Portland, Maine [Published: OCT/NOV 00]
Mystery Theater Volume 1: The Tell-Tale Heart (Edgar Allan Poe) CBC Talking Books

Scenario Productions offers the listening public a series of truly
outstanding, vintage radio productions spanning the years 1942-1965.
Heart of Darkness is Joseph Cnrad1s classic tale as reformed by Lorne
Greene and an outstanding supporting cast. On the same audiobook is a
superb production of Reuben Ship1s The Investigator starring John
Drainie, Barry Morse, and James Doohan. Lewis Carroll1s classic
stories for children, Alice1s Adventure in Wonderland and Through the
Looking Glass are showcased together and are brought vividly to life
in a truly memorable theatre of the mind production. The chilling
stories of George Didben Pitt's Sweeney Todd, and Andrew Allan's A
Sense Of Sin are fretured together and showcase the talents of George
Didben Pitt and Christopher Plummer respectively. Alan King's Nazi
Eyes on Canada has a stellar cast that includes Orson Welles, Vincent
Price, Helen Hayes, Judith Evelyn, House Jameson, and Quentin
Reynolds. This two and a half hour story is one of a chilling (and at
one time quite plauible) Nazi occupation of Canada and the horriffic
living conditions that the survivors must endure. Enthusiastically
recommended to old time radio show buffs, each production meets the
highest standards of old time radio and are presented to today's
public with a splendid attention to the best audio production
technology available to eliminate the old snap, crackle , pop
problems that aging program tapes are subject to.

Back | Home | Stage Series | Mystery Theatre | Brick Mallery | Dr. Gypsee Gunn | Wayne and Shuster
Mordecai Richler | Camp X | Order

© Scenario Productions 2009
All Rights Reserved