Andy Serkis Starring in ‘Screwtape Letters’ Radio Drama

This is one of those “under the radar” news items that’s been overlooked by the media, and I’ve actually neglected to mention it here when I first heard about it a few months ago. But being a huge fan of radio theater I thought I’d help create some advance buzz for the radio dramatization of C.S. Lewis’ classic novel The Screwtape Letters being produced by Focus on the Family Radio Theatre (winner of a Peabody Award and multiple Audie Awards).

FOTF Radio Theatre has been broadcasting quality radio dramas since they first premiered Adventures in Odyssey in 1987, which is still on the air more than 20 years later (and I’ve actually been listening to the show since the very first broadcast). The voice cast for Adventures in Odyssey includes a number of voice actors whose names will be familiar to animation fans:

– The late Hal Smith: DuckTales, Scooby Doo
Will Ryan: Elmo Aardvark, Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin
Katey Leigh: Darkwing Duck, Gummi Bears
Townsend Coleman: The Tick, TMNT
Andre Stojka: voice of Owl in many Winnie The Pooh cartoons
– The late Walker Edmiston: Transformers, voice of Ernie the Keebler Elf
Alan Young: voice of Scrooge McDuck
Jess Harnell: Animaniacs, Drawn Together
Corey Burton: Transformers, Superman: The Animated Series

FOTF announced in May 2008 that they had obtained the rights to adapt and record a production of The Screwtape Letters for FOTF Radio Theatre. And in May 2009, news broke that Andy Serkis (voice and motion capture actor for Gollum in live-action The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) had been cast to voice the lead role of the villainous Screwtape.

According to ChrisKou.com, FOTF Radio Theatre is planning a “huge launch campaign for Screwtape Letters beginning September 1.” The production will also feature the voices of Geoffrey Palmer (Tomorrow Never Dies), Laura Michelle Kelly (Sweeney Todd), Eileen Page (The Secret Garden), and “other world-class actors” (according to RadioTheatre.org). The release date is scheduled for October 15th, 2009.

Here’s a description of the production, via RadioTheatre.org:

From the award-winning audio drama team that brought you Radio Theatre’s Amazing Grace and The Chronicles of Narnia. In his enduringly popular masterpiece The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis re-imagines Hell as a gruesome bureaucracy. With spiritual insight and wry wit, Lewis suggests that demons, laboring in a vast enterprise, have horribly recognizable human attributes: competition, greed, and totalitarian punishment. Avoiding their own painful torture as well as a desire to dominate are what drive demons to torment their “patients.” The style and unique dark humor of The Screwtape Letters are retained in this full-cast dramatization, as is the original setting of London during World War II. The story is carried by the senior demon Screwtape (Andy Serkis) as he shares correspondence to his apprentice demon Wormwood. All 31 letters lead into dramatic scenes, set in either Hell or the real world with humans—aka “the patient,” as the demons say—along with his circle of friends and family.

In April, Adventures in Odyssey producer Dave Arnold offered a “quick teaser” of The Screwtape Letters via video podcast on WhitsEndBlog.org. [Dave’s teaser is towards the end of the clip. And immediately following the teaser is a preview of Adventures in Odyssey Live CD (with bonus DVD) from a live performance celebrating the 20th Anniversary of AIO in 2007, which featured cast members Katey Leigh, Will Ryan, Dave Madden, Jess Harnell and others. Bonus content on this release includes bloopers, 300-picture slideshow, and Q&A with the voice cast.]

And Tyndale.com now has a 7-minute behind-the-scenes featurette on the production, which includes interviews with director Paul McCusker, Andy Serkis, Douglas Gresham (C.S. Lewis’ step-son), casting director Philip Glassborow, Geoffrey Palmer (voice of C.S. Lewis), and other members of the voice cast.

[Additional sources: DaveDeAndrea.com, NarniaFans.com, Wikipedia.org].

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