Review: Bricolage's Midnight Radio joins spy game

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Bricolage has created a fun fall theater tradition with the Midnight Radio series, in its fourth year of paying homage to old-time broadcasts with a sketch-comedy sensibility, operating in a Pittsburgh-centric world.

The first of three adult shows (there's Midnight Radio Jr., too) opened Thursday with the theme "Secret Agents & Spies." Blending Foley sound effects, such as sheet-metal thunder and clip-clopping footsteps, with video references, blue humor and a couple of musical interludes, the 90-minute show takes you through a newscast, commercial breaks and a noir radio play based on Graham Greene's "The Third Man."

A cast of local actors -- Elena Alexandratos, Jeffrey Howell, Jason McCune, Bria Walker and Bricolage artistic director Tami Dixon, who operates the sound effects station -- performs myriad characters, accents, songs and sounds.

The program says this is Ms. Walker's first Midnight Radio gig, but she fits right in with the old pros as they navigate this sometimes silly world of intrigue. Smooth-talking Mr. McCune makes for a cool customer as Harry Lime in the "Third Man" main event.

The newscast was a favorite, honoring last year's zombie theme by explaining that the staff had been decimated by an attack of the undead, forcing fill-ins such as alcoholic Wendy Bender (Ms. Alexandratos) into a sports role.

Director Jeffrey Carpenter pulls it all together and music director Deana Muro provides appropriately old-timey tunes.

Activities await if you arrive during the Happy Half-Hour before the 9 p.m. start. There's code-breaking for a chance to participate in a "Family Feud"-style game show segment, a string maze (think a laser security system) and a chalkboard to contribute to spy-themed mad libs.

"Episode 1: Secret Agents & Spies" continues Friday and Saturday at Bricolage's home base, 937 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Upcoming themes are "Pittsburgh Ghost Stories" (Oct. 25-Nov. 3) and "Cult Movie Classics" (Nov. 29-Dec. 8). Tickets: $25 or $15 for students/seniors at bricolagepgh.org or 412-471-0999. Midnight Radio Jr. (2 p.m. Oct. 13-14) consists of a 45-minute episode and a sound effects workshop; tickets are $15 for adults; $8 for ages 12 and under.

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