Undiscovered Gem

Don’t Close Your Eyes

Friday May. 30th, 2014

Tucked away in the valley of Bozeman Montana is an art community that continues to thrive every year with unique projects and equally unique artists. Each year I’m enriched and enlightened with the opportunity to see a bevy of different performances that Bozeman’s own, add to this very diverse community. We are never short for different outlets for artists to show their vision and passions, and many show it through theater, music, painting, writing, film, and many other unique gems that are welcomed by this very proud art community.
One of these said gems is one that has been hidden, but has been carefully rounding its edges and beginning to shine in the very strong theater community and the gem I’m referring to is The Verge Theater’s summer series, “Don’t Close Your Eyes” Live Radio Theater, which is embarking now on it’s fourth season. Don’t Close Your Eyes is a kick back to old-time radio with an updated slant of brilliant writing that is provided by Bozeman’s own, Keith Suta and Ryan Cassavaugh. With the resurgence and rebirth of radio shows on the internet, DCYE provides a unique experience that only seeing it live can provide for the audience member, because the shows themselves feature the bells and whistles, (sometimes literally) of a cast of strong voice actors and sound effect gurus. Don’t Close Your Eyes boasts that each week you get a brand new experience with a different genre of old time radio, everything from adventure, comedy, suspense, sci-fi, western, and much more!

The process for this troupe is not unlike the professionals at Saturday Night Live, in where the cast puts the show together in a week, complete with script, music, and the show’s most treasured gem, analog sound effects. Part of the “Don’t Close Your Eyes” experience is that the audience gets to see the sound effects made before your very eyes and all thanks to the talented ladies of sound, Marya Cline and Wren Goodman. They provide anything from coconuts for horses, macaroni boxes for trains, clipboards for gun shots, and a plethora of more sounds that add to these wonderful shows already thrilling experiences. It is sometimes a show in and of itself to watch these ladies provide the balancing act of sound effects as the cast of voice actors tell the story, because I think the writers almost work in a Pixar-like way to challenge themselves each week with some ridiculously fun sound effects. But the ladies are up for the challenge each week and the audience is never left without being in awe and entertained.

“I want you to understand the words. I want you to taste the words. I want you to love the words. Because the words are important, but they’re only words. You leave them on the paper and you take the thoughts and put them into your mind and then as an actor recreate them, as if the thoughts had suddenly occurred to you” – Daws Butler

Daws Butler describes perfectly in that quote how an actor must prepare his or her performance when approaching a script and the cast of voice-actors in Don’t Close Your Eyes prepare much in the same way. Now, Daws Butler is from early radio fame with Stan Freberg, and later cartoon fame with Hanna Barbera. He was the voice of Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, and St. George and the Dragonet. I site this because the DCYE cast provide rich characters that they give life to through minimal movement but huge personality, it’s achieved with their vocal talents that provide the audience a well acted character, that at the end of the performance they have lived through that character’s experience. Whether it’s a lovable simpleton or space adventure heroine, this troupe provides acting range that compliments the beautiful writing that Keith Suta and Ryan Cassavaugh have crafted.

If you’ve been at the Verge lately, you’ve seen some incredible performances with actors that have provided stunning entertainment in myriad of different plays, many of the cast of DCYE is comprised of performers from these plays and provide a depth of characterization that is truly fun and refreshing. The core cast includes Sarah Suta, Keith Suta, Ryan Cassavaugh, Sadie Cassavaugh, Ryan Lawerence Flynn, Shayna Gibson, Pol Lovet, and the man affectionately known as, “The Man of over 9,000 Voices”, Christian McDaniel. They jump from one character to another in a blink of an eye and are true storytellers when channeling their inner voices in their head. Again, another piece of the puzzle that makes this old-time live radio experience a joy to see and share with others.

The summation of this whole piece is to let you know about this gem that has gotten some legs under it and continues to grow in this amazing art community. It has shown that original content is thriving in Bozeman and will be a staple for many years to come for families of all generations who love to hear stories and like to share the experience of live radio theater. Remember, Don’t Close Your Eyes or you just might miss it.

The run begins June 13th and 14th and continues weekends until July 25th and 26th! Tickets and flexible multi-passes are available at Cactus Records in Bozeman, online at cactusrecords.net. For more information, visit DCYEradio.com.    

Robert Ewing is a freelance writer from Bozeman Montana who is working on his first book, Liner Notes, a memoir of short stories inspired by musical experiences.