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Great Scenes from Great Plays - 10 hours [Download] #RA087D
Great Scenes from Great Plays

10 hours - Digital Download

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Great Scenes from Great Plays
Volume 1

"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more."
The words of William Shakespeare, taken from his immortal play "Macbeth", are never truer when they are thought of in relation to the many hundreds of talented men and women who spent most of their professional lives acting on the theatrical stages of the world. Inspired, electric, sometimes even brilliant, their performances thrilled millions, leaving enthralled audiences with memories and emotions that, in some cases, would last a lifetime.
But theatrical success is the most ephemeral of the popular arts. Unlike the movies, where performances can be repeated and enjoyed so long as the film continues to exist and can be shown, or radio and television, where recordings can be played and enjoyed decades after they were first made, a stage performance - no matter how wonderful - happens only once, never to be repeated. It is often the case, in fact, that an actor well-known on the stage may be totally unknown outside of that realm, their reputation based solely on the memories of the relatively few people who saw them in person and appreciated their work.
Great Scenes from Great Plays, a Mutual Radio Network series that was first aired in the fall of 1948, sought to rectify that situation - at least in part - by presenting some of the greatest stage performers of the mid-20th century in scenes from some of the best plays even to be seen in New York. 1948 was an opportune time to present such an ambitious series, with a great many stage and film favorites then appearing in plays both on Broadway and on tour throughout the country. Well-known performers such as Basil Rathbone, Henry Fonda, and Gertrude Lawrence could then be seen on stage live along the Great White Way, while legendary theatrical performers such as Jane Cowl, Raymond Massey, and Peggy Wood were willing to contribute their talents to the series - even though some of them seldom if ever had made appearances before the microphone.
To host the series, the producers chose long-time stage veteran Walter Hampden. Hampden, who had been trodding the boards since 1901, was revered as the grand old man of the American theater. One of the great American stage actors, he played "Hamlet" on Broadway three times between 1918 and 1934 and was known particularly for his greatest role: Edmond Rostand's "Cyrano de Bergerac," a part he first performed in 1923 and which he repeated four more times on the Great White Way. In addition to acting, Hampden was also a theatrical manager, one of the actors who helped launch the American Repertory Theatre, and president of the Players' Club for 27 years. Walter Hampden's presence on "Great Scenes from Great Plays" gave the series immense credibility and prestige - something which the often low budget Mutual Network was desperately in need of at the time.
Despite attracting such name performers as Celeste Holm, Walter Abel, Gene Tierney, Walter Pidgeon, and Ingrid Bergman to appear before its microphones, "Great Scenes from Great Plays" did not succeed in gaining a sponsor to foot the bills for such a prestigious production. This combined with the fact that the series appealed mostly to those in larger cities rather than in small towns, caused the program to be canceled after just one well-received season. Since Mutual was not particularly known for maintaining an archive of its programs (if, indeed, their live broadcasts were recorded at all), the series might well have disappeared altogether, remembered - like so many stage performances - only by the few who had the chance to hear it live. However, by chance, "Great Scenes from Great Plays" was allowed to survive - thanks, in part, to a most unlikely organization: the National Council of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Since 1947, Father Patrick Peyton had been attracting the cream of Hollywood's acting community to appear in his weekly radio series "Family Theater", which aired on Mutual and attracted millions of faithful listeners. Though produced by a Catholic organization, this non-denominational series didn't preach to its listeners; instead, it presented well-written stories of everyday life, each of which left the listener with something subtlety inspirational. Mutual aired the series without commercials, donating the broadcast time in the public interest. The Protestant Episcopal Church, too, wanted to present a similar series to radio audiences -- and here was a dramatic series, filled with famous names and often inspiring stories, which had been heard by relatively few listeners during its original run.
So, shortly after it was first aired live, "Great Scenes from Great Plays" returned to local stations under the auspices of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Since the series had never had a sponsor, the programs needed only minor editing in order to be rebroadcast under these new circumstances; the content remained almost completely intact. Thus, a series that offered a unique glimpse into the rarified world of the New York theater - and that might have otherwise disappeared forever - had a second life - and, now in this collection, it enjoys a third life as well, in twenty beautifully restored episodes, taken directly from original 16" transcription recordings.
Hearing episodes from this still-impressive series today, one remains drawn to it as one might be to a particularly well-produced talking book or BBC audio production. Additionally, one regrets the long-lost chance to experience the thrill of seeing some of these talented and legendary performers when they were indeed appearing, live and in person, on the stages of America. But, until someone develops a time machine that allows us to travel back into the past, an entertaining and historic series like "Great Scenes from Great Plays" will simply have to suffice -- and Radio Archives is pleased to once again make it available to delight a whole new generation of enthusiastic listeners.
Cyrano de Bergerac (#1)
Based on the Play by Edmund Rostand and Starring Walter Hampden
Friday, October 1, 1948 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated
The Corn is Green (#2)
Based on the Play by Emlyn Williams and Starring Jane Cowl
Friday, October 8, 1948 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated
The Barretts of Wimpole Street (#3)
Based on the Play by Rudolf Besier and Starring Beatrice Straight and Basil Rathbone
Friday, October 15, 1948 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated
Dark Victory (#4)
Based on the Play by Bertram Bloch and George Emerson Brewer Jr. and Starring Celeste Holm and Walter Abel
Friday, October 22, 1948 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated
Little Women (#6)
Based on the Book by Louisa May Alcott and Starring Betty Caulfield, Joan Caulfield, and Susan Douglas
Friday, November 5, 1948 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated
A Tale of Two Cities (#7)
Based on the Novel by Charles Dickens and Starring Brian Aherne
Friday, November 12, 1948 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated
The Enchanted Cottage (#8)
Based on the Play by DeWitt Bodeen and Starring Gene Tierney
Friday, November 19, 1948 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated
What Every Woman Knows (#9)
Based on the Play by J.M. Barrie and Starring Gertrude Lawrence and Dennis King
Friday, November 26, 1948 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated
The Devil and Daniel Webster (#10)
Based on the Story by Stephen Vincent Benet and Starring Raymond Massey
Friday, December 3, 1948 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated
The Old Lady Shows Her Medals (#11)
Based on the Play by J.M. Barrie and Starring Fay Bainter and Walter Hampden
Friday, December 10, 1948 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated
Young Mr. Lincoln (#12)
Based, in Part, on a Play by Robert E. Sherwood and Starring Henry Fonda
Friday, December 17, 1948 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated
You and I (#14)
Based on the Play by Philip Barry and Starring Peggy Wood and Otto Kruger
Friday, December 31, 1948 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated
The Citadel (#15)
Based on the Novel by A.J. Cronin and Starring Walter Pidgeon
Friday, January 7, 1949 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated
The Farmer Takes a Wife (#16)
Based on the Play by Frank B. Elser and Marc Connelly and Starring Margo and Eddie Albert
Friday, January 14, 1949 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated
Icebound (#17)
Based on the Pulitzer Prize Winning Play by Owen Davis and Starring Cornel Wilde
Friday, January 21, 1949 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated
The Goose Hangs High (#18)
Based on the Play by Lewis Beach and Starring Margalo Gillmore and Walter Abel
Friday, January 28, 1949 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated
The World We Make (#19)
Based on the play by Sidney Kingsley and Starring Jessica Tandy
Friday, February 4, 1949 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated
Dead End (#20)
Based on the play by Sidney Kingsley and Starring John Payne
Friday, February 11, 1949 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated
A Doll's House (#21)
Based on the Play by Henrik Ibsen and Starring Ingrid Bergman and Brian Aherne
Friday, February 18, 1949 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated
The Lady with a Lamp (#22)
Based on the Play by Reginald Berkeley and Starring Madeleine Carroll
Friday, February 25, 1949 - 30:00 - Mutual/Syndicated

Average Customer Review: Average Customer Review: 5 of 5 5 of 5 Total Reviews: 2 Write a review

  2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 You Do Important Work May 20, 2022
Reviewer: Richard Stone  
I have been completely satisfied with the service I've received. You do important work and your organization is wonderful.

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  2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Great Scenes from Great Plays with Walter Hampden May 20, 2022
Reviewer: Richard McLeod from RIVERSIDE, CA United States  
This is truly one of the great Radio Shows.  The Episode with Ingrid Bergman from "A Doll's House" needs no visuals, as the Program is easily imagined in one's mind which is one of the unique characteristics of listening to Plays on the Radio beautifully restored by Radio Archives.  You indeed do a great job!
The distinguished and noted  Shakespearian Actor Walter Hampden narrates each episode and performs one of his signature roles in one of the episodes.  The talent on this program was provided through Actor's working and in association with the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States and the Episcopal Actor's Guild.  Walter Hampden was in addition also known for his popular radio show in the role of Leonidas Witherall.

The Radio Archives staff has restored these shows back to a level comparable to when the show initially aired.
An exceptionally well produced radio show from the Golden Age of Radio.  Don't miss this one as I can't recommend it too highly!

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