Seventeen year old entrepreneurial ‘wonder-kid’ Benjamin Maio Mackay is bringing his Adelaide and Sydney Fringe smash hit show Great Detectives Of Old Time Radio Live back to Adelaide from tonight (29 Sept), but this time with special guest announcers.
Glam Adelaide was lucky enough to chat with Benjamin; two of his cast mates, Eden Trebilco and Jennifer Barry; and one of the special guests, Channel 7’s Graeme Goodings.
B.G. Benjamin, how old were you when you started your own company, Preachrs Podcast OnLine & OnStage?
B.M.M. Twelve. I wrote and directed my first show with a production company when I was twelve. I was thirteen by the time it was performed. The show was 50 Years Of Doctor Who: Podcast Live.
B.G. What made you decide to get involved with recreating radio plays?
B.M.M. Well, I’ve always had a love for audio drama and audio as a medium and I stumbled across some podcasts of such radio shows as Dragnet, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and Candy Matson when I was about 10 or 11. I’d always loved them and listened to them and when I was looking for a project after I finished my ‘Doctor Who’ work, I turned back to those and thought “There’s got to be a way to bring them to the stage“. The recreation of an actual recording seemed to be the best way to do that.
B.G. How did you pick the scripts that are used – Candy Matson and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar?
B.M.M. I listened to lots of radio and I read tons and tons of scripts. There are a lot of good radio shows, but there are only a few great ones. We’re doing two scripts from Candy Matson, who was the only female lead on the air in the 1950s. And Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar is so wonderfully comedic and Eden really brings the character of Johnny Dollar to life.
B.G. Jennifer, how did you get involved with the show?
J.B. I met Benjamin, when we both younger, when we were doing Under Milkwood together. Last year he asked if I was interested in doing ‘Great Detectives’ and I thought “Oh yes, Benjamin. I might help you out” (laughs)
B.G. I believe that you’re the ‘voice’ lady in that you portray many characters with many different voices.
J.B. Yes, I play about 9 different characters, from about the age of 4 to the age of 87.
G.G. I think young people, in particular, will be fascinated to see one person playing various roles. Because we’re all brought up on theatre and television where you see different characters and that. But this is true-to-life. This is the way radio plays were done and everyone played multiple roles. It just shows the talent of the people that they can go from one character to another to another, then back to the original.
B.G. Eden, your specialty is Improvisation, especially with the fabulous improv group Changing Jennifers. How did you become associated with this show and Benjamin?
E.T. I teach improv and Benjamin was one of my students.
B.G. Do you get to use your improv skills in this show?
E.T. (laughs) Well, yes…Yes! (hastily adding) Sometimes, sometimes, when it’s appropriate. But Ben knows the script sooo well. It’s used a fair bit in rehearsal, experimenting. On the night of a show, I won’t do anything to ruin another performer but I’ll definitely try to bring a fresh energy to it..
B.G. Graeme, as a special guest compere, what are your thoughts on the production?
G.G. It will certainly appeal to all age groups. People of my vintage because we were there and to see it recreated in front of us will bring back some wonderful memories. Younger people are fascinated by it…to see communication in its early form is actually fascinating. And it’s just good theatre! It’s just good entertainment! So it wins on just so many levels. I don’t think it will alienate any age group – there’s something in it for everyone. Everyone will take something different out of it. For me it will just reinforce wonderful memories: for young people, they’ll say “Wow, that’s the way it happened” – and others will just say “That was damn good entertainment“.
B.G. Benjamin, how would you sum up Great Detectives Of Old Time Radio Live?
B.M.M. It’s a show that people of all ages can enjoy. There’s drama, mystery, comedy and intrigue. It certainly encapsulates everything into one theatrical experience.
Interview by Brian Godfrey
Adelaide dates: at Tandanya
28 September 7pm, 29 September 7pm, 30 September 7pm, 1 October 2pm & 7pm, 2 October 2pm & 7pm, 3 October 7pm, 4 October 7pm, 5 October 1pm & 7pm, 6 October 7pm, 7 October 7pm, 8 October 2pm & 7pm, 9 October 2pm & 7pm