ST. PETERSBURG — After many months of planning, freeFall Theatre will reopen safely with an all-new adaptation of “War of the Worlds,” opening Friday, Oct. 23, and running through Sunday, Nov. 22.
Inspired by Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds,” this innovative live radio show will bring audiences together “drive-in” style to experience a combination of live music, multimedia, and radio performance.
When an anachronistic, live variety hour is preempted by the shocking news that Martians have invaded Earth, the adage that “the show must go on” is put to the ultimate test. Nostalgic, surprising, fun, and irreverent, this evening of impending mayhem is freeFall’s safe and innovative return to live performances in the face of a global pandemic and the inevitable Martian onslaught.
This production will be presented on an outdoor stage with audiences experiencing the performance drive-in style from their vehicles. Combining live musical and variety performance, radio storytelling, and multimedia elements, the radio show being created live will be broadcast to your vehicle via its radio or your smart device via a free app.
Admission for this show will be by vehicle — up to four occupants — and general admission within two sections, including “standard" and "premium." Attendees need only purchase one admission per vehicle. "Premium" admissions will park in one of the five central spots in each of the two rows of parking available. To ensure the best possible experience for all patrons, vehicles will be parked in the best available spot in the chosen section, based on the size of vehicle, on a first-come, first-served basis.
freeFall Theatre is committed to the safety of our patrons and artists. The theater has undertaken heightened cleaning procedures and policies to prevent the spread of COVID. Theater staff asks all patrons to comply with posted policies, including the wearing of an effective face covering if you choose to leave your vehicle for any reason.
freeFall Theatre is at 6099 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. Tickets for the drive-in series can be purchased online at freefalltheatre.com or by calling 727-498-5205. In-person box office services are temporarily unavailable.
The original 1938 radio broadcast which inspired the production left an enduring impression upon American culture. Welles — who would go on to become a famous actor and filmmaker — performed the adaptation of H.G. Wells 1898 novel “The War of the Worlds” for the radio drama anthology series “The Mercury Theatre on the Air.” Broadcast as a Halloween episode Oct. 30 in 1938, many listeners mistook the performance as genuine news reports, leading to frantic phone calls to newspapers and police and isolated incidents of panic.
Since 1938, there have been many re-airings, remakes, reenactments and parodies of Welles’ broadcast. In 1994, L.A. Theatre Works partnered with public radio station KPCC based in Pasadena, California, to broadcast a remake featuring actors from the “Star Trek” franchise including Leonard Nimoy, John de Lancie, Dwight Schultz, Wil Wheaton, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, Armin Shimerman, Jerry Hardin, and Tom Virtue.