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'Vintage Hitchcock' a highlight of BHCT online winter series
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'Vintage Hitchcock' a highlight of BHCT online winter series

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A 1940s radio play-style production, "Vintage Hitchcock", will be part of BHCT's online winter series.

Black Hills Community Theatre’s upcoming online winter series of dramas and mystery will continue to safely entertain the community at home.

Following up its fall online series that concluded with “It’s a Wonderful Life,” BHCT’s winter series begins Jan. 22.

The winter series features two play readings, “The Lifespan of a Fact” and “These Shining Lives,” and a special event, “Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play.”

“The Lifespan of a Fact” and “These Shining Lives” will be available for on-demand viewing. “Vintage Hitchcock” will be available for on-demand listening. All admission will be Pay What You Want ticketing. The productions can be streamed at bhct.org.

“The Lifespan of a Fact” can be viewed between 7 p.m. Jan. 22 and 7 p.m. Jan. 24. This drama focuses on Jim Fingal, a fresh-out-of-Harvard fact checker for a prominent but sinking New York magazine, and John D’Agata, a talented writer with an essay that could save the magazine from collapse. When Fingal is assigned to fact-check D’Agata’s essay, the two fight a comedic yet gripping battle over facts versus truth.

Following the success of its Christmas 1940s-style radio play “It’s a Wonderful Life,” BHCT will present “Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play.”

“‘Vintage Hitchcock’ will be just audio and that’s going to be really fun,” said Ryan Puffer, BHCT office administrator. “People definitely enjoyed ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ the live radio play. The way we did it as audio only gave people an opportunity to have it on in the background and hear voices they knew tell a story. They really enjoyed that.”

Listeners can tune into “Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play” between 7 p.m. Feb. 18 and 5 p.m. Feb. 21. Spies, murder, love, and other trademarks of Alfred Hitchcock come to life in the style of a radio broadcast of Hitchcock’s earlier films. With “The Lodger,” “Sabotage” and “The 39 Steps,” “Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play” is a triple feature -- complete with vintage commercials -- that recreates a daring train chase, a serial killer's ominous presence, and a devastating explosion using live sound effects and musical underscoring.

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The winter series concludes with “These Shining Lives,” which can be viewed between 7 p.m. March 12 and 7 p.m. March 14. Inspired by actual events, the lives of Catherine Donahue and her three coworkers/friends are shattered when the women fall ill to mysterious ailments. They discover the source of their sickness is radioactive paint used for the watches on which they paint glow-in-the-dark faces. The women seek retribution with a class-action lawsuit against their employer, Radium Dial Company. Though the women are doomed to die, their struggle to fix what is broken demonstrates the power of the female spirit, even as the Great Depression curbed women’s newly won social freedoms.

BHCT’s live theater seasons traditionally aim to include something for everyone, and the fall online series did as well. The winter series will primarily appeal to adults, and Puffer describes “The Lifespan of a Fact” and “These Shining Lives” as PG-13 type performances.

Puffer said the fall series drew an audience of longtime BHCT fans and some new viewers and listeners.

“What people liked most is there’s just something nice about familiarity. We can’t go to theater spaces but to be at home and see some (BHCT regulars’) faces, people really enjoyed that,” Puffer said.

Local actors are adapting to the challenge of online performing.

“They’re enjoying the opportunity to do something different, and that’s really exciting as an actor,” Puffer said.

Puffer said BHCT also is grateful for the community’s support on Day of Giving in early December.

“It was one of our highest-grossing Day of Giving campaigns. It’s great to see people still care about us,” he said.

Meanwhile, BHCT’s live theater season is delayed as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. “Tommy: The Musical” was one week away from its scheduled performances in March when COVID-19 forced the remainder of the 2019-2020 to be postponed. BHCT still hopes to present “Tommy: The Musical,” “Julius Caesar” and “Matilda” later this year — or sometime in the future, Puffer said.

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