By Ron Lackmann
"It is such fun! Everyone is having the best time! I know I shouldn't say this - but it's so great, I think I'd almost be willing to work for nothing."
The lady talking is Charita Bauer, The Guiding Light's Bertha Bauer - and Charita's got a new job! Well, sort of new. Both she and Search for Tomorrow's Larry Haines are starring in a new soap opera - on radio. Called To Have and To Hold, it also stars and features a host of old favorites from TV - day and night - and even some beloveds you may remember from the original days of radio soaps.
Anybody out there remember radio soaps - Stella Dallas, Pepper Young's Family, The Romance of Helen Trent, Ma Perkins? Those were just a few of the radio soap operas we listened to, before TV invaded our hearts and homes.
Stella, Pepper, Helen and Ma may not longer be with us, but a company called DCA Productions is offering a whole new galaxy of radio characters for us to enjoy on four new daytime programs. The shows are designed to feed the appetites of those of us who fondly remember the joys of radio dramas past - and to satisfy the curiosity of those too young to remember old-time radio. And they seem to be as fascinating to young audiences as old.
The four fifteen-minute programs are currently being heard all across the country on more than fifty stations. Mondays through Fridays, and they are giving TV soaps aired at the same time a healthy bit of competition. The new shows are: The Faces of Life, the story of a young woman confronting life and love in these days of confusing freedoms; The Author's Studio, serialized dramatizations of famous novels and plays; The Little Things in Life, a domestic comedy about "life's little frustrations"; and To Have and To Hold, the story of three generations of family caught up in the conflict between the traditional and the new morality.
The Faces of Life and To Have and To Hold, as you may have guessed, are genuine soaps, in the best tradition of both radio and TV. And it's the latter that stars Charita and Larry, and some other familiar voices you'll be glad to hear around again. There's Joyce Gordon, currently a very familiar face on TV commercials, and an ex-Edge of Nighter. (She's married to Bernard Grant, One Life to Live's Steve Burke.) Everybody remembers Rosemary Rice, Katrin on nighttime TV's I Remember Mama for ten years. She also delighted daytime fans with roles on As the World Turns and The Edge of Night. Fran Allison, of Kukla, Fran and Ollie fame plays Charita's older sister on the show. And judging from the volume of mail pouring into the producer's office, all of the new radio series are an unqualified success. And they are new - new scripts, new themes, and new attempts to deal with both timeless and contemporary problems.
But new scripts or new themes or whatever, radio drama is an art onto itself. And subject matter notwithstanding, it is the same techniques that made it work yesterday, that are once again making it work today - writers, technicians, actors that can stir the imagination and make you see things that aren't there. For that, you do need people experienced in the field, and according to Charita Bauer, much of the show's current success is due to people very familiar with the medium.
"There are such wonderful people involved in this project, each of them knowing what he or she is doing. They've gotten the best people for this project." And that includes a lot of actors, who are veterans of the most famous shows of the past.