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Classic radio theater is recreated onstage for new fans; its newest show, 'The Maltese Falcon,' stages Sept. 14 and 15

COURTESY PHOTO - Actress Lynne Stewart returns to Portland for Fake Radio's 'The Maltese Falcon' this weekend.Fake Radio isn't fake. It might be exaggerated and improvised versions of old stories, like the upcoming "The Maltese Falcon."

It plays out onstage by actors in period garb, but it's not fake.

"We're not actually on the radio," said David Koff, Fake Radio director, explaining the name. "And, it was originally at the Fake Gallery in Los Angeles."

Indeed, Fake Radio was born 20 years ago in LA, where it featured stars such as John Larroquette, Ray Romano, Marcia Wallace, Fred Willard, The Kids in the Hall, George Wendt, Dean Cain and Laraine Newman.

And for three seasons, it's been in the Portland area, as Koff directs and stages the productions at local venues. "The Maltese Falcon," which includes LA-based actress Lynne Stewart (Miss Yvonne in "Pee-wee's Playhouse," and in "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"), takes place at The Old Church downtown and The Vault Theater in Hillsboro this weekend.

Next season, Koff said, he wants to resume shows in Los Angeles while also staging in Portland.

Koff calls it old-time radio, "just funnier." Scripts, written in the 1930s-50s, perhaps had some offensive and sexist content, as did some commericals. With Fake Radio, actors take creative license to do tongue-in-check parodies of commercials and scripts.

So, Fake Radio keeps it real, somewhat.

"Language (in scripts) doesn't always meet today's standards of inclusivity and openness," Koff said.

Time was radio theater was king, or least right there along with motion pictures in entertainment value with shows such as "The Shadow," "The Lone Ranger" and "War of the Worlds."

It lives on in Portland in various forms with stage/variety radio show "Live Wire With Luke Burbank," Willamette Radio Workshop, The Tesla City Stories and Fake Radio.

"Portland has become a bit of capital in the nation for radio theater," Koff said. Fake Radio recreates old classics for new fans.

"The Maltese Falcon" was released as a movie in 1941 and then as a radio show by Lux Radio Theater two years later.

"It's got all the elements that a really rich radio script should have: murder, mystery, romance, intrigue, international hunt for a priceless piece of art," Koff said.

The movie (starring Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade) was nominated for three Academy Awards.

Beau Brosseau plays Sam Spade in Fake Radio's show, and Stewart plays Miss Wonderly.

It stages at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at The Old Church, 1422 S.W. 11th Ave., and at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15, at The Vault Theater, 350 E. Main St. in Hillsboro. Tickets: $20, www.fakeradio.net.


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