F ans of Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” take note.
The classic live radio show might be an old concept, dating back to at least 1974, but area performers, musicians and artists are giving it a fresh spin.
The Woodstock Roundup Radio Program, modeled after Keillor’s widely popular show, will debut Feb. 9 at the Starline Factory Building, 300 W. Front St., Harvard. The show will run from 5 to 6 p.m., with doors opening at 4:30 p.m. It is free, but donations are suggested.
Not only are audiences invited to watch the program live, but they also can listen to it on Harvard Community Radio. It will be streamed online at www.harvardcommunityradio.com.
Joe Pesz created a smaller version of the program in 2009, hosting it at Stage Left Café in Woodstock for a couple of years.
But his aspirations for the program outgrew the space.
“We didn’t have any room to move,” said Pesz, a member of the Stage Leftovers, a group that performs regularly at the Stage Left Café.
A fan of “A Prairie Home Companion,” Pesz sought to feature the area’s performers, songwriters, musicians, comedians, authors and artists. Intermixed with songs, the show features skits and interviews through the use of a rotating ensemble cast, he said.
The skits will involve characters similar to the type of characters seen on shows such as “Saturday Night Live.”
“It’s more of a review than a traditional theatrical show,” Pesz said.
Each show will focus on current news topics, such as the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ American debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” which is being featured in the debut.
The cast also will touch on the new farm bill, with a humorous take on how technology has changed farming called “Down on the Farm in the 21st Century,” Pesz said.
With the Starline Factory, a historical home for art galleries, musical events, weddings and special occasions, looking to expand its offerings, the site was ideal for the program, he said.
Pesz would like to see a capacity audience fill the space, which has room for about 100 people.
Approached with the idea and asked to suggest cast members, Angie Kells suggested herself.
As founder and executive director of Riverview Theatre Company in McHenry and a theater director at McHenry’s District 156, Kells thought the idea was unique.
“I like the freedom of this,” she said. “I already had that fondness for this type of venue.”
The addition of music and song, as well as interviews, takes the program beyond what you might see on “Saturday Night Live” or at Second City, she said.
“You’re not just going skit, skit, skit,” she said. “It has a variety show feel to it that I like. ... I just feel like we have a really sharp group. They’re witty. They’re all musical.
“I think it’s one of those things that’s sort of going to be a grass-roots thing. I’m excited to be involved in something else that’s like it. It has a newness to it.”By JAMI KUNZER - firstname.lastname@example.org