Sunday, November 23, 2014

"The Thin Man Comes to Pittsburgh"

I had mentioned earlier today that Marilyn and I were headed down to the William Penn Hotel for Sunday Brunch and to be  apart of the studio audience for the performance of a radio play of Dashiell Hammett's "The Thin Man".

It was fun experience.

Right off the bat, I have to tell you that attending an event at the William Penn Hotel is really a cool experience.  For those readers outside of Pittsburgh, the William Penn Hotel was built in 1915, and it really epitomizes old style class and luxury in a way that just isn't done any more.

For example, do they build hotel lobbies like this these days?

I don't think so.

Sunday brunch in the hotel's Terrace Room - very nice.  By the way, I am convinced that opulent brunch buffets in fancy hotels is one of the reasons why the rest of the world hates America, but I digress.

We had some time to kill after brunch, so we enjoyed the stylings of a piano player in the lobby while we sat there and enjoyed the atmosphere.

We then proceeded to the Three Rivers Room where the radio "studio" was set for the performance.

Pre-show entertainment was provided.

And then the radio play version of "The Thin Man" was presented.  

The script for this play was adapted from the Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich screenplay for the 1934 film version of "The Thin Man".  The trick here was that this radio script was adapted for a Pittsburgh setting.  For example, Nick and Nora were in Pittsburgh in 1934, not New York, and were staying at the William Penn Hotel.  Professor Wynant did his scientific research for the Mellon Institute. Gilbert Wynant was a student at Duquesne University. The story was interrupted a few times for "commercials" featuring products that played upon Pittsburgh stereotypes (Yinzer Beer, for example).  You get the idea.  The actors played multiple parts, and changed or added small articles of clothing - a scarf or a hat - when they changed characters.  One of the actresses even played Asta!  However, unlike the true old time radio days, all sound effects (ringing phones, doors slamming etc) were provided by the stage announcers lap top!

If you're familiar with the William Powell-Myrna Loy movie version, then you could follow the story.  Like the movie, it was not as gritty as Hammett's original novel, but it was a fun,  breezy, and entertaining show.  A new and different experience for us.

I was able to get this picture of Nick and Nora, as played by husband and wife Chuck and Jeannine Lanigan.

Special kudos go out to Chuck Lanigan as well as he both wrote and directed this play for live radio.

A great start to the Holiday Season!!!

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