Photos & Story by Dave Warner – Laura Powers, Matt Powers and Andrew Devitt stand outside The Shop prior to rehearsal Saturday
On Sunday, a standing room only crowd of more than 40 people attended the live performance of Episode 4 of The Brass Lantern: Prelude to Perdition. The cast performed this “old-time-radio” style show complete with sound effects. Despite the warm weather and humidity, the audience members clapped, cheered, and had a good time.
Andrew Devitt and Matt Powers teamed up to bring listeners this original tale of a city torn apart by corruption and crime, and the beacon of justice who is fighting it all – The Brass Lantern. The project merges classic radio drama with modern media podcasting to broadcast the action-packed story, including Sunday’s live performance.
According to Devitt “the character of The Brass Lantern is about 20 years old. I originally created him to be a comic book character, sort of satyrical.” I thought “what is the sort of dumbest gimmick that a super hero could have…he just blinds people and them shoots them when they’re helpless.”
This all started when Powers had been successful with the LiFT project (Little Falls Theater), doing Shakespeare, and he suggested the idea of a podcast to Devitt who responded “I’ve got something for you.”
“I thought, this is theater of the mind, and The Brass Lantern is perfect for this,” said Devitt. Television had killed off radio shows like this and now the ability for podcasting is bringing this sort of entertainment back. Devitt thought “why not give this character the home that he deserved?”
Powers said “It worked out pretty well. We were able to secure a couple of grants from CNYArts to fund the project and it was a nice shot in the arm – a boost to the project.”
“I had been thinking about this for awhile – a podcast for LiFT,” said Powers, but “nothing really materialized until I mentioned it to Andrew.”
My favorite compliment about The Brass Lantern, stated Devitt is “someone who was alive to hear shows on their old Philco Radio who tells me that it takes them back there – that’s the biggest compliment.”
The depression era heroes that The Brass Lantern was molded after were much harder edged. In the 1950’s, the industry decided to self censor themselves because comics had been deemed too violent. The Comics Code Authority was created and comics had to have this stamp on them.
“When Superman first appeared in 1938, he was throwing slum lords off of buildings. When Batman first appeared in 1939, he had a gun and he was shooting bad guys,” said Devitt. The people in that era were from the Great Depression and there was a lot of crime in their neighborhoods, so these street level vigilantes were people who took on the big bosses and corporations.
Next came the science fiction heroes like The Flash, The Green Lantern and even Superman went heavily science fiction in the 1950’s. “Those Depression era heroes sort of died and you didn’t see the return of that type of character until the Vietnam War period of the 1970’s with the rise of the anti-hero,” said Devitt.
In the 1950’s, The Brass Lantern would have had the Comics Code Authority coming after it. Devitt stated “I’m careful now because I want it to be an all-ages show, so I don’t put any bad language in it. I’d call it PG or PG-13 at the most. There’s some violence in it, but it’s audio violence.”
The first season is one big story arc and six episodes are planned, with four already completed. Episodes five and six are in production and by the end of this period “I think people are going to see what the larger story really is and hopefully they’ll look back on the earlier episodes a little differently after they hear the whole thing,” said Devitt.
Little Falls native Lisa Lauritsen mentioned that seeing the live show made her “want to listen to the rest.” According to Powers, she won’t have to wait long. The rest of season one will be released in the coming months – closing out the year with a bonus Brass Lantern Christmas special.
If you’d like to listen to all of the episodes, we’ve set up a special page on MyLittleFalls.com.