Janet Any-Gal Mystery Radio Theatre

For five years now, I’ve gone up to the Depot Theatre on beautiful Lake Champlain for a few weeks during the summers to work with the apprentice program– kids from ages of 6-13. And for the past four of those years, I’ve created original radio plays that we do as staged readings. The kids write original commercials for the breaks in the action, and we perform with minimal costume pieces.

I can’t tell you how rewarding it has been to watch kids take to this form. Using just microphones and music stands, kids learn how to bring a script alive with their imagination. Characterization and vocal clarity is prized, but so is teamwork; older kids are able to help the younger ones find their places and create sound effects. Kids who are more physical love the Foley artistry, while the heightened language and larger roles provide challenges for more advanced performers— and the parents and grandparents love it.

More theaters and educational programs have contacted me about performing Janet Any-Gal plays– stay tuned for more news!

(photos by Kathryn Cramer)

The sleepy little town of Westport, New York, is about to wake up. Janet Any-Gal, our 16-year-old heroine in charge of her Pop’s detective shop while he’s off on the war front, impresses one of her father’s clients, an insurance investigator from the city who’s not used to getting his feet muddy and who needs some help with a break-in down at Old McGuffy’s farm. The clues are kid-sized, and Janet knows just which gang of tough local boys to ask what’s what. When they lead her to the mysterious ward of the richest family in town, Janet finds herself in mortal danger in a climactic showdown in an old barn.

Westport is celebrating the anniversary of the discovery of Lake Champlain, and an influx of out-of-town tourists provides temptation and easy marks for the resort owners, hucksters and petty criminals of the quiet country village. Meanwhile, a new resort camp in town is providing competition for businessman Cedric McMillan, and the French perfume of Camp Normandie’s confident mistress, Coco Du Champagne, seems to drive men crazy in more ways than one. When a skunk sprays his camp, McMillan blames the mademoiselle, and hires Janet Any-Gal to find evidence that will turn the tourists against Coco and bring them back to Camp Westport’s Pride. With the help of the notorious Bumble Brothers and souvenir salesman Cheadle Pennysworth, Janet’s the one girl detective who can sniff out the truth.

Toughie O’Leary asks Janet for help after members of his boys gang find mysterious tracks down by the lakefront. Though distracted by demands for back rent by the landlady at her Pop’s detective office, Janet finds herself drawn in when the whole town of Westport starts to blame Champy, the Lake Monster of Lake Champlain. Town eccentrics Oriana Anderson and Champy expert Denton Beedleswitch face off against their frightened friends and neighbors, and the return of the enigmatic former prisoner Bill Russell muddies the waters for Janet and Toughie as they fight for the future of the lake itself.

Janet has to bet on her friends when she investigates hijinks at the polo fields in Westport. When the star polo pony, Wadham’s Pride, makes trouble for stuck-up stick-wielder Porter Westenbrook, he asks Janet to look into it. With the help of her best friend Lila, Lila’s brother Lionel, and her usual shadow Little Petie Wilson, Janet discovers trouble on the field and off. And what are Albany’s heaviest gangsters doing lurking around the stable? Janet learns about the history of polo, the hidden strengths of her best pals, and the perils of horsing around.

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