By Bob Weaver

In 1938, Orson Welles petrified radio audiences with his "War of the Worlds" broadcast for the Columbia Broadcasting System, listeners who missed the opening of the show were horrified by the broadcast.

The program's script was equivalent to today's TV reality shows, a blow-by-blow description about the invasion of earth by extra-terrestrials, reeking death and havoc.

Director Susan McGinley doesn't expect to generate mass terror when the Jackson County Players brings the radio play to the stage this weekend at the Alpine Theater in Ripley, but it will give the audience a peak into the golden age of radio.

My dad, Giff Weaver, tuned to the broadcast on his AM battery radio in the deep woods near Hur, and said he called my mom to come and listen, both of them hovering in horror of graphic descriptions of alien mayhem.

He said they stuck with the broadcast until the programs credits came on, indicating it was only a radio drama.

"We were relieved," he said.

McGinley said performing "War of the Worlds" seemed a natural fit for Halloween time.

Since the plays require a large cast and no one needs to make costume changes, McGinley said each of the actors have several roles.

The actors will dress in 1930s costumes, and even smoke fake cigarettes in the "studio."

McGinley has a digital sound effects box to make some noises she cannot recreate onstage, like bombs. But for the most part, she creates each of production's sound effects.

"War of the Worlds" has stood the test of time, with two screen versions.

The play opens 7 p.m. Friday at Ripley's Alpine Theater with performances Saturday. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door, or online at www.alpinewv.com.

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