A Brief History of Bricolage Production Company’s Midnight Radio

Dating back to 2008, Midnight Radio is a live (themed) vaudevillian variety show you can check out at Bricolage. "Yinzer Scrooged" runs til Dec 21.

by Amanda Reed
December 6, 2019

Although Bricolage Production Company’s Midnight Radio series is performed in front of an audience, it’s as much of an aural experience as it is visual, according to Tami Dixon, principal creative and co-founder of Bricolage Production Company.

“We just try to listen deeper to the story and reach in and pull the sound out,” she says.

A look inside Bricolage Production Company’s Midnight Radio. Photo: Amanda Reed

Yinzer Scrooged: December 5 to 21

Bricolage Production Company’s latest installment of Midnight Radio, “Yinzer Scrooged,” runs beginning Dec. 5 to Dec. 21.

Here, Pittsburgh icons come to life, including 19th-century Industrialist Andrew Carnegie as Scrooge’s ghostly business partner, Jacob Marley; beloved television personality Fred Rogers as the Ghost of Christmas Past; and renowned entertainer Lena Horne as the Ghost of Christmas Present. With commercial parodies and Foley sound effects, “Yinzer Scrooged” combines holiday cheer and nostalgia into a cross-generational experience.

The cast of Yinzer Scrooged. Photo: Handerson Gomes

In honor of the return of “Yinzer Scrooged,” first performed in 2015, Very Local decided to look at the history of one of the company’s most well-known programs, now in its 12th season.

How Midnight Radio got its start

Midnight Radio first debuted in 2008, when Dixon and Jeffrey Carpenter — Bricolage Production Company artistic director, founder and Dixon’s partner — were deciding that year’s Staged Reading Performance Series, a free, six-month long program that offered a new show every month. At the end of the six months, the audience would choose which show turned into a full production, with the winning show featured in next year’s season.

Wali Jamal performing in Midnight Radio. Photo: Handerson Gomes

2008 marked the last year of the Staged Reading Performance Series, and Dixon and Carpenter had decided five of the six shows for the series. However, they couldn’t land on the last one. So, they brainstormed.

“We decided, ‘what if we built one? What if we built a piece together?’” Dixon says.

Both lovers of radio dramas like “Little Orphan Annie” and Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds,” Dixon and Carpenter landed on a live vaudevillian variety show with three headlining shows featuring musical guests, silly commercials and local personalities. And, Midnight Radio was born.

Connor McCanlus in Midnight Radio. Photo: Handerson Gomes

Midnight Radio did not win the audience vote that year to be included in the 2009 season, but that didn’t stop Dixon and Carpenter from continuing the series.

“It was so much fun that we were like, ‘This is what we want to spend our time doing, creating and collaborating with people,” Dixon says.

So, they schemed up an entire season of Midnight Radios, called the Midnight Radio Smack Down, where three writers would go head-to-head, with the audience choice receiving a second episode of their concept.

Now, Midnight Radio focuses on one story for the entire evening. Dixon says the flexible format fits different kinds of material, from the serious to the absurd. Past Midnight Radio themes range from Pittsburgh ghost stories to a live Yinzer version of “Die Hard.”

“It’s a host for a lot of different tastes,” she says.

Jaime Slavinsky in Midnight Radio. Photo: Handerson Gomes.

Midnight Radio also springboarded Bricolage Production Company’s education program, bringing theater to children in Washington and Fayette counties, and even reaching into areas of West Virginia.

“We’re out there working with kids to write their own Midnight Radios based on the curriculum they’re learning in school,” she says.

Throwing it back to 2015

Along with an updated script, this year’s production of “Yinzer Scrooged” features cast members from the original 2015 production, like Michael McBurney and Connor McCanlus, and new additions, like Shammen McCune, Jaime Slavinsky, and Midnight Radio veteran Wali Jamal as Scrooge.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5s_q10B-MP/

Dixon says the decision to bring back “Yinzer Scrooged” was based on balancing out Bricolage’s season and listening to its audience.

“We’ve had a pretty heavy year this year, so we wanted to make sure we did something that was fun,” she says. “People have been asking about when it might come back. We thought this was a perfect year to do it.”

Michael McBurney in Midnight Radio. Photo: Handerson Gomes.

Events like a Foley and sensory workshop and DIY ornament night round out the Midnight Radio programming. And, with a commitment for accessibility, Bricolage is wheelchair accessible, features all-gender restrooms and wheelchair seating. The theater also offers reserved seating for guests and their companions, mobility aids and comfort items for guests with sensory sensitivities.

Despite an updated script and a changed world, Dixon says “Yinzer Scrooged” remains similar to society, just as it did four years ago.

“There are still a lot of disputes going on between CEOs and their employees, employers and employees, [and] between unions and corporations,” she says. “So that stuff is still resonating.”

Shammen McCune in Midnight Radio. Photo: Handerson Gomes.

Bricolage Production Company

“Midnight Radio” // Dec. 5 to Dec. 21. // Tickets: $25 – $35 // Various times

Free pre-show Happy Half-Hour, starting 30 minutes before the show with free beer, wine and holiday games.

For more information, visit the Bricolage site.

 

Lead Photo: Jaime Slavinsky, Connor McCanlus and Michael McBurney perform in Yinzer Scrooged. Photo by Handerson Gomes.

Bricolage Production Company
Getting there
937 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, USA
More Info

Amanda Reed is a Pittsburgh-based journalist who mostly makes dumb jokes on Twitter @reedkat_ . Her work has appeared in Pittsburgh Magazine, Pittsburgh City Paper, the Riveter Magazine, Martha Stewart Weddings and the Pittsburgh Current. She proudly owns multiple faux fur coats and really loves opossums.

More Local Stories

Fit and Fab: Free summer workouts in Boston

Cover photo courtesy Getty Images Looking to get fit for the summer? Still wary of COVID-19 or just looking for some sunshine while you sweat? Here are some Boston free summer workouts across the city so you can keep moving all season long! Seaport Sweat May 2 to Sept. 29 Boston’s biggest free workout series…

What’s On the Menu?: Farm-to-table

The farm-to-table movement brings locally grown foods to your plate. Not only will enjoying farm-to-table meals allow you to indulge in fresh, nutritional, seasonal dishes, but farm-to-table dining helps the environment and supports the local economy.  Check out these delicious farm-to-table restaurants in Greenville, South Carolina on the latest episode of What’s On the Menu?. …

A guide to some of the best Black-owned brunch spots in NOLA

Gather the crew together, make those reservations, and celebrate all things Black at brunch. 

A guide to Pittsburgh’s summer events must-do list

Check out our roundup below for the can’t-miss events happening in the city over the next few months.

Eat Play Stay Orlando: Tarpon Springs

In historic Ybor City, different cultures bring out the best in one another. Enjoy an authentic Cuban sandwich or dine at a restaurant now on its fifth generation of ownership. After chicken yoga (yes, that’s a thing!), treat yourself to a hand-rolled cigar.

Dorchester doughnuts that pack a paczki

These traditional Polish pastries are the real deal.

Cheap Date Orlando: Unicorns Dragons & Desserts

Two Orlando couples shop vintage, search for the perfect slice, visit a post-apocalyptic saloon, and take the stage on blind dates in Orlando.

What’s on the Menu: Global Flavors in Greenville

Farm to table is easy when you own the farm! Sun Belly Cafe, Oak Hill Farm & Cafe, Farm Fresh Fast, and The Anchorage Restaurant invite us into their kitchens and show us how farming and sustainability influence their menus.

Hometown Tragedy: Missing in Milwaukee

On this episode of Hometown Tragedy: Missing in Milwaukee, we’ll explore what happened to Jerica Banks, her children, and how it impacted their community.

Exploring the history of Pittsburgh’s Chinatown

At one time, there was even an informal Chinatown mayor to act as a community liaison.

Exploring the history of Pittsburgh’s Chinatown

At one time, there was even an informal Chinatown mayor to act as a community liaison.

Painting My Way Through Life: Pittsburgh (And Beyond) Through The Eyes of Artist Ron Donoughe

Ron Donoughe has spent over 30 years painting the Pennsylvania landscape, especially Pittsburgh. When you don’t find him capturing the spirit of his paintings on location, you’ll likely find him in his Lawrenceville studio – where he’s watched the neighborhood transform through his windows.

With a potential sale of his building looming in 2022, we chatted with Donoughe about his artistic journey thus far, what might come next, and Pittsburgh through his eyes.

Guide to Every Comic Book Store in Pittsburgh

Your complete guide to Pittsburgh comic book stores, including comics written and drawn by Pittsburgh creators.

Best local florists in Pittsburgh

A guide to the best local florists in Pittsburgh

Here’s where to get bright booms from local florist shops in the city.