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Fireside Mystery Theatre presents old-time radio dramas

Gus Rodriguez and Ali Silva may have been born in the wrong time.

Ideally, they would have been around in the 1930s and 1940s, working on such suspenseful radio programs as “Lights Out” or “The Shadow.”


But though the early 21st Century may not be the Golden Age of the Wireless, Rodriguez and Silva are doing their best to keep radio dramas alive.

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The Voice Actor: Fireside Mystery Theatre


The suspenseful Fireside Mystery Theater has become an unexpected podcast success, with over a million downloads of its contemporary radio performances of macabre and off-center scripts, reminiscent of the Golden Age of Radio. You can listen to an interview broadcast yesterday on the Arts Express radio program over WBAI FM that I did with the two creators of the company, Ali Silva and Gus Rodriguez, by [following the link below].


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10 Scary Podcasts to Listen to on a Dark and Stormy Night


Recorded once a month in Manhattan, Fireside Mystery Theatre brings together actors to tell the scariest stories they can come up with. Fashioned like an old-school radio show, it's got a modern and new twist with a full score, live music, and an incredible cast that brings life to stories you have to hear to believe.


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7 Cool Live Podcast Recordings & Radio Shows in NYC


Founded in 2011, Fireside Mystery Theatre brings audiences back to the days of the old-timey radio show. Actors on stage perform radioplays before your eyes. Between the stories, you can expect live music as accompaniment, special guests, and more. Experiencing Fireside Mystery Theater is like a combination of listening to a cathedral radio and constructing scenes with your mind's eye--the actors help set an evocative scene that you co-create through active listening.


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10 Creepy Podcasts to Get You in the Mood for Halloween


Like Thrilling Adventure Hour, Fireside Mystery Theatre proudly bills itself as “old-fashioned,” recording monthly with a full-fledged cast in front of a live audience. Unlike Thrilling Adventure Hour, Fireside, headed up by Queens-based theater performer Ali Silva, aims for scares instead of laughs with themed episodes on everything from childhood fears to — shudder — travel stories.


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Theater of the Mind


A radio show that masquerades as theater. Seems a little counterintuitive, right? Except that it isn’t. Call it what the practitioners call it: “radio theater.” And it’s clearly a genre: in the last 20 years in New York, at least, any number of groups have infused life into the form (Dan Bianchi’s fine Radio Theatre NYC comes to mind).


But the appearance of Fireside Mystery Theatre to the Gotham scene five years ago herladed radio theater operating on another level. Their work is full-throttle, full-throated, with nothing held back. Their radio theater is at once a salute to all that which is aural and art but equally an affirmation that some people like their theater dark. And, best of all, the company’s work is full of mischief and jubilation and swagger, it’s as if they know that the average theategoer wants more than their eyes entertained. Yes, we live in an intensely visual culture. Indeed, watching the members of Fireside Mystery Theater offer a performance has its visual delectations. But the company’s whole point is that it’s not merely about the eyes. It’s about the ears, it’s about the mind; it’s about activating the imagination. The mere name of the company — Fireside…Mystery… — is evocative of something dramatic, a touch of adrenalin and a touch of arrhythmia. (Their shows were originally performed in front of a fireplace at The LIC Bar in Long Island City, Queens.)


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The 10 Best Podcasts Based in NYC from RadioLab, This American Life to The Combat Jack Show


The youngest podcast on this list Ms. Ali Silva’s Fireside Mystery Theater mixes together classical radio drama programming, with a contemporary twist. Performed in front of audience at venues around NYC since 2011, the podcast has been available to those who were unaware of the show’s existence or can’t make their monthly shows at the LES venue The Slipper Room. Each show features actors in full costume and (like in classical radio) a live band to perform a score, and sound effects to assist in the performance.


It might be new and unknown to most of the podcast obsessed, but in a few years, you can tell many that you were on board from the very beginning.


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Queens theater group puts on variety shows in style of old-time radio broadcasts


Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear . . .


Strike that. Come with us to Long Island City tonight.


Denizens of Queens have taken to the borough's burgeoning arts capital to perform a series of live, old-style radio shows, including ghost stories and murder mysteries, and they are producing them live from a Vernon Blvd. watering hole.


Ali Silva’s Fireside Mystery Theater, a Queens group that holds monthly “dark” variety shows in the style of Golden Age radio broadcasts, will soon hit the online airwaves.


The group plans to produce podcasts of their shows and host live performances at new venues around the city.

Their next show, “Dead of Winter,” is slated for Sunday night at L.I.C. Bar.


“It’s just like you’re seeing a radio broadcast from the ’40s,” said co-creator Gustavo Rodriguez, 44, of Sunnyside. “There’s microphones, there’s actors with scripts.”


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A ghostly ‘gift of gab’ found in LIC


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, LIC Bar has put a Celtic twist on its monthly Fireside Ghost Stories series.

The most recent event was held in the Carriage House, a small venue with a comfy atmosphere that feels more like a ski lodge in Vermont than a back room in Long Island City. A fireplace of average size sits stage-right and is embedded in a stone panel for added effect.


The setup is modest, consisting of two orchestra stands positioned for the performers and a white taper candle flickering in the background. Actor Ali Silva stands in front of a microphone fingering through a folder of papers. She wears a black top, a flowing, black A-line skirt and lace-up wedge boots, making her look appropriately wench-like.

Concetta Abbate and Charlie Rauh, who composed and perform the musical accompaniment, sit well off to the side, plucking violin and guitar strings intermittently. Though having live music play could, in some instances, seem distracting, Silva’s voice stands strong, and together they make for an eerie atmosphere.


Nine poems and stories were read during the performance but it was the third tale, “The True Story of Killman Castle,” that was by far the scariest.


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