Goldfinch Productions does ‘Dr. Faustus’ as radio play on KGY

From left, Ed Thorpe, Jalen Penn and Kevin McManus rehearse a one-hour radio show adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s “Dr. Faustus.”

From left, Ed Thorpe, Jalen Penn and Kevin McManus rehearse a one-hour radio show adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s “Dr. Faustus.”

Courtesy of Goldfinch Productions

In South Sound’s fall theater scene, radio plays a starring role.

First, Harlequin Productions began doing radio-style plays online, and now KGY Radio is serving as a venue for local shows.

Goldfinch Productions’ “Dr. Faustus,” an adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s classic about a man who sells his soul to the devil, airs at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25, and playwright Bryan Willis’s musical tribute to the Hotel Olympian is set for Dec. 20.

“It’s really fun that local theater companies have been inspired by old-time radio shows,” said Nick Kerry, KGY’s general manager. Up until a few years ago, the station aired the nationally syndicated “Imagination Theatre” and “When Radio Was” on Sunday evenings.

“Faustus,” chosen with Halloween in mind, could be the start of a return to that tradition. “Now we just need one for November,” Kerry told The Olympian. “That would make it really nice.

“This will be our test,” he added. “This could be something that we would want to do on an ongoing basis.”

Marlowe’s devilish creation might also test listeners’ mettle: When the play was first performed in the 16th century, “Faustus” inspired legends that devils appeared in the theater, said Goldfinch artistic director Kevin McManus, who teamed up with Ed Thorpe to adapt the play into an hour-long radio drama.

“I did my best,” McManus of Seattle told The Olympian. “I think it’s scary. It would creep me out pretty badly. I did a lot with the sound effects, and I tried to make things really tense. I didn’t want to give anybody a heart attack, though, so there are no jump scares.”

Goldfinch, which McManus started while living in Olympia, is focused on the classics. In 2019, the company presented Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” and Moliere’s “The Misanthrope.”

That made “Faustus,” a theatrical classic with supernatural themes, a natural choice for the company’s first radio production.

It also gave McManus an opportunity to play the role of the doomed doctor years before he would have looked the part on stage.

“It’s a role that I’ve always wanted to play,” he said. “I’ve loved ‘Dr. Faustus’ ever since I saw the Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor version when I was growing up.”

The rest of the cast, most of whom play multiple roles, is made up of Goldfinch board members Rebekah Bonnett of Seattle, McManus’s fiancée; Kalen McCrea of Lacey; Jalen Penn of Tacoma, and Thorpe of Olympia.

“We wanted to keep things as small as possible for this one,” McManus said. He transposed some of the voices after recording, making them deeper or higher to distinguish among characters.

The technique enhanced the horror-movie quality of Penn’s narration, featured in a Facebook trailer.

“We must perform the fortunes of Faustus, good or bad,” he intones, backed up by the haunting sound of whirling winds.

‘Dr. Faustus’

  • What: Goldfinch Productions presents a one-hour adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s classic tragedy.
  • When: 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25
  • Where: 95.3 KGY FM and
  • Admission: Free, with donations appreciated
  • More information:
  • Listen online: Starting Oct. 31, “Dr. Faustus” will be available at
  • Next up: A radio version of Bryan Willis’s “The Hotel Olympian 100th Anniversary Gala Extravaganza” will air at 3 p.m. Dec. 20 on KGY.

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