CLARK, NJ - The audience gathered in the Clark Library to see Ranconteur Radio’s performance of “The Wizard of Menlo Park” was eager and excited for the nostalgia of a radio play. The chatted easily with each other before Tuesday’s show began, rattling off names of radio programs they used to listen to as a child.
“I love the history of it,” one woman said. “I remember my father telling me all about the different shows he listened to.”
Ranconteur Radio puts on an old-time radio show complete with period costumes, music, and commercials.
“Please set your phones to a vintage rotary ringtone,” one of the performers announced at the start of the show. “We don’t care if they go off, but they have to fit the theme.”
Three actors gathered around a microphone, changing hats and voices to portray different characters as they told the story of Thomas Edison’s quest to invent the lightbulb.
The story of “our states most famous resident” had the audience on the edge of their seats as they laughed, sang along to Brylcreem jingles, and gasped and applauded at Edison’s defining moment.
A single lightbulb sat before the actors, slowly burning brighter and brighter, flickering to life as Edison’s numerous experiments finally paid off.
The show was given a nice round of applause, and the cast took time to speak more with the audience.
There were a few questions about facts presented during the show, such as “Did Edison really call his kids Dot and Dash?” (He did.). One audience member said that her grandfather worked with Edison in Menlo Park.
There was more reminiscing as the Ranconteur Radio players gave a list of vintage shows they put on. They perform year round, going to schools and other communities throughout the state.
The Clark Library has hosted the group multiple times and there were plenty of repeat customers in attendance.
The actor who played Edison ended the show by saying, “Men will always go forward to more light,” and it’s certain that Clark residents will look forward to more radio plays at the library.