Halloween Spooktacular: War of the Worlds and The Day the Earth Stood Still

For Christina Allaback, PhD, director of theatre at Pitt-Greensburg, the campus’s fall theatre production is a trip down memory lane. She remembers her father pulling out the vinyl album featuring Orson Welle’s The War of the Worlds for the family to listen to as part of their Halloween tradition. Building off of that tradition and memory, Allaback chose two radio plays for this semester’s theatre production.

The Pitt-Greensburg Theatre Company will perform The War of the Worlds (Welles) and The Day the Earth Stood Still (Edmund H. North) at Ferguson Theater (Smith Hall). Opening night is Halloween (Tuesday, Oct. 31), and the show continues Nov. 1, Nov. 2, and Nov. 3. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. for all performances. Each radio play will run about 50 minutes with a 15-minute intermission in between. Tickets ($5 general admission only) are available at the door or in advance at https://bit.ly/PITT-GBG-THEATER-TICKETS.

A special offer with this run of shows is that kids under the age of 14 can attend free when accompanied by an adult with a ticket, and high school students can attend free by showing their high school ID.

"War of the Worlds was originally a Halloween prank,” explained Allaback. “I want people to put themselves in the shoes of the original listeners of the program and think about how they would have felt if they switched on the radio and heard a news report that aliens were invading. Halloween is about being spooked and that is what War of the Worlds is all about. I love the idea of performing this work, not just as a fun Halloween event, but exploring it as a historical event. Many actors have spoken these words since, and we are now part of that Halloween tradition.”

Allaback went on to note that The Day the Earth Stood still is not exactly a Halloween tradition, but it is about an alien invasion, and it is political, so it is a good companion piece to War of the Worlds.

“I want the audience to think about these two plays through a contemporary lens. These are old plays, yet they still have significance to our world today,” she said. “What do these plays teach us about our contemporary moment? Do they help provide a solution? Do you have an idea for a solution? Radio plays are a specific genre of theatre that is done all over the country. In this genre, we imagine ourselves in the mid-20th century and place ourselves in a radio studio where actors are performing these two historical works.”

Twelve Pitt-Greensburg students will be participating in the production as members of the cast and crew. They include:

Marris Sobotka – Radio Actor

This is the first radio play for Marris Sobotka, a second-year political science major. Originally from Long Island, NY, their most recent show credits include Blanche in last year’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire and ensemble in GCT’s production of Sweeney Todd.

Constance Taesch – Radio Actor

Constance Taesch is a first-year visual and performing arts major from Sleepy Hollow, NY. Her acting credits date back to the eighth grade and include a variety of plays and musicals: Yente - Fiddler on the Roof (8th grade); Ensemble/Ancestor - The Addams Family (9th grade); Waitress/Rhonda - Almost, Maine (10th grade); Ensemble - Tarzan: The Musical (10th grade); Mrs. Alma MacNeil/Ensemble - Radium Girls (11th grade); Ensemble - Little Shop of Horrors (11th grade); Teddy Brewster - Arsenic and Old Lace (12th grade); and Deborah Sue/Gloria Rasputin/Ensemble - Bye Bye Birdie (12th grade).

Mark Lewis – Radio Actor

Mark Lewis, from Vacaville, CA, is a first-year student majoring in IT with a cyber-security focus and a minor in Mandarin Chinese. This is his first theater experience as he debuts on the Ferguson Theater stage.

Liz  Alacce – Radio Actor

Liz Alacce is a freshman biology major from Bethel Park, PA. She’s been acting since she was 10 years old and has performed in 16 productions. Some of her favorite roles include Wendy in Pan! (2020) and Princess Viperé in White Cat (2022) performed at the South Park Theatre. Along with acting experience, she has stage crewed three productions and stage managed five. Alacce’s favorite show to stage manage was the South Park Theatre’s 2022 production of A Fairy Tale Christmas Carol.

Cyrus Bartholomew – Radio Actor

This might be Cyrus Bartholomew’s first performance at Ferguson Theater, but this first-year student has plenty of theater experience behind the scenes. He served as stage manager and ran the sound with Monessen GPA for five years, putting on shows that included Grease, Shrek The Musical, Ranked, Little Shop of Horrors, and Matilda.

Owen Seeman – Radio Actor

Owen Seemann is a first-year bio-engineering major from Boyertown, PA. He has only been in one prior production, playing Charlie Cowell in The Music Man Jr.

Brianna Bicker – Radio Sound Actor

Brianna Bicker, from Delmont, PA, is a senior biology major. She performed in the Pitt-Greensburg productions of A Streetcar Named Desire (2022) and Talking With . . . (2023).

Sydney McLaughlin –Radio Sound Actor

A member of the sound crew, Sydney McLaughlin is a second-year elementary education major from Pittsburgh, PA. A regular on the Ferguson Theater stage, she has been cast as the Young Collector in A Streetcar Named Desire, and had a few monologues in the spring show, Talking With . . . .

Olivia Richard – Production Crew

Olivia Richard, from McDonald, PA, is a third-year student majoring in Early Childhood Education. Active with the Pitt-Greensburg Theater Company, she is an experienced member of the production crew and performed in Alistar is Missing (Spring 2023). Richard also serves as the vice president of the Performing Arts Society at Pitt-Greensburg and is a member of Delta Psi Omega. This will be the fifth college production, and she is excited to continue her streak with the musical this spring.  

Shianne Steck – Stage Manager

Shianne Steck (they/she) is a junior visual and performing arts major with minors in gender studies and writing. Steck has been stage managing since she was 15, and most recently served as assistant stage manager for Falsettos and Merrily We Roll Along with Front Porch Theatricals. An assistant stage manager for two Pitt-Greensburg productions, Steck was honored last semester to stage manage a student-written and directed one-act, Alistair is Missing. Steck also is president of Delta Psi Omega and The Performing Arts Society. Steck is from Pittsburgh, PA.

Emily Druga – Wardrobe

Emily Druga, a second-year student from Plum Borough, PA, is undecided as a major—but she knows that she wants to pursue writing. A fan of the theatre and Broadway musicals, this is her first time participating in the Pitt-Greensburg Theatre Company where she is helping with the show’s wardrobe and developing a sense of what people wore in the 1940s.

Max Moszkowicz – Radio Actor

Max is a biological chemistry major and has been with the Pitt Greensburg Theatre since his freshman year.