by Lorie Lewis Ham
Visalia actor Kelly Ventura has voiced several episodes of Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, and earlier this year, directed an audio production of War of the Worlds for Enchanted Playhouse in Visalia. Now he has set out to do even more fun audio adventures that are available on his website and as a podcast, so KRL chatted with him to learn more.
KRL: Why did you decide to start making radio/audio dramas on your own?
KV: With live theatre facing so many challenges right now, I began focusing on projects that would connect with audiences in new ways, while continuing to provide students and cast members with opportunities for success.
And as I thought about what that would look like, my mind went back to the old time radio shows I listened to growing up.
So I began the process of creating a platform that would host these types of audio plays that I have loved since I was a kid. I think that creative people work best when they have a passion for the project. And everything that’s on the new site goes back to my early influences. There’s a lot of freedom being able to work that way.
KRL: I know you have read stories for Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, and that you directed a production of War of the Worlds for Enchanted Playhouse at Halloween. Have you done other audio work?
KV: Short answer: not really. I don’t know why I haven’t but I do know that I truly have a face for voice over work. In the past the only real “work” I had that was substantive enough to record was A Christmas Carol. So several years ago I did record the show on CD. Remember CDs? But right now there are a ton of voice-over opportunities for actors and a lot of competition in that space. So I really appreciate any chance I get to read for Mysteryrat.
KRL: Why did you start off with The Dying Detective and A Christmas Carol?
KV: I loved Sir John Gielgud’s performance in the radio show The Dying Detective from the early 1950s. And I love this particular story because you get to see a deeper aspect of the relationship between Holmes and Watson. Especially toward the end, when Holmes reveals exactly what he thinks of his friend and how he values Watson’s medical opinion.
A Christmas Carol has been a part of me for the better part of 15 years. I’ve performed this every December since 2005 throughout the U.S. as a one-person performance piece. It’s a show that for some odd reason is close to my heart. And since it coincided calendar-wise with the start of the new site I thought it would be a perfect place to begin.
KRL: I know A Christmas Carol was only up for a limited time. Will The Dying Detective be up indefinitely?
KV: Yes, The Dying Detective will be up indefinitely. But I wanted to limit the amount of time that A Christmas Carol was out there because no one wants to listen to a Christmas show in July.
KRL: What else do you have planned? Is there a time frame or just as you are able?
KV: The next audio play that I’ll do on my own is another Sherlock Holmes story The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot. After that, in the Spring, I’ve announced auditions for another audio play based on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. And I just posted auditions for another audio play for June of 2021, The Hound of the Baskervilles. More information will follow soon.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Since this interview Kelly has actually posted a production of The Legend of King Arthur.
KRL: How do you go about deciding what to do?
KV: Whether I am acting, directing, or writing, before I commit to a project I always begin by asking myself: “Is this a show that I would want to go see?” And when it’s a show I’d be directing, I include the question: “How many opportunities will this create for cast members?” This premise has kept me working on projects I feel are important. So as long as the answers to those questions go back to those early influences I mentioned before, then the show is definitely in the running.
KRL: Will most of them be available indefinitely or for a limited time?
KV: Indefinitely. However those shows that are time specific like A Christmas Carol will have limited availability.
KRL: Do you plan on doing any dramas with a full cast?
KV: Yes, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Hound of the Baskervilles will have a full cast similar to my production of War of the Worlds.
KRL: Future goals?
KV: After the world has moved past all of this madness, I want to make the transfer back to stage. Not just for myself as an actor, but also for the actors working with me on these audio plays. I’ve always felt that Visalia needs a performing arts “hub” that all of our theater companies can utilize. It’s been a dream of mine for some time to create a place for the performing arts in Visalia. I’d like to produce the same type of shows I’ve been doing as audio plays as live stage plays. I have a feeling there will be a ton of opportunities in the near future and I hope that my little productions can be a part of that.
KRL: Can they be found anywhere other than on your website?
KV: All episodes can be found on most podcast platforms, including Apple podcasts.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
KV: I started directing shows when I was 18. And since that time, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing and talented people. So along with creating opportunities for actors of all ages, I wanted to create a platform to highlight their amazing stories. So I started a new podcast called Talking Backstage to catch up with past cast members, talk about their work as actors, and have them share what they’re up to currently. It’s a podcast for actors, but I know everyone will enjoy the stories these incredible individuals have to share.
You can learn more on Kelly’s website and find his audio drama podcast where ever you listen to podcasts simply by searching for The Kelly Ventura.
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors–many of whom you will have seen on local stages. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Play, and also on Podbean. There are many episodes featuring Kelly Ventura, including a recent one called The Roman Heir.
Check out more theatre articles & other local entertainment articles (including many more online/streaming shows) in our Arts & Entertainment section.