WVXU and CCM Acting's 'O'Toole From Moscow' is available to stream on demand
Listen online to enjoy Rod Serling's comedy about confusion between Russians and the Cincinnati Reds
UC’s College-Conservatory of Music and Cincinnati Public Radio station 91.7 WVXU have co-produced a long-lost baseball comedy by The Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling. Originally broadcast on March 25, 2020, the radio play titled, "O’Toole From Moscow," is now available to stream on demand.
"O'Toole From Moscow" can be heard on the WVXU website. It's also available as a podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, NPR One, Sticher, Google Play and Pocket Casts.
"O’Toole From Moscow" is about confusion between Russians and the Cincinnati Reds at the height of the “Red Scare” over possible Communist infiltration of American institutions during the Cold War. Serling originally wrote the one-hour television play for NBC Matinee Theatre and it was only broadcast once on Dec. 12, 1955. The performance was not filmed or recorded.
"O’Toole From Moscow" was adapted for radio and produced by WVXU’s John Kiesewetter, who tracked down the original script with the help of Serling historians. He also met with Serling’s daughter, Anne, who is the program host and narrator of the radio play. CCM Acting students recorded the comedy, which was directed by CCM Professor Richard Hess, at Cincinnati Public Radio’s studio. Sammi Grant, a visiting master’s student from London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, tutored the cast so they would sound authentically Russian.
Hess hand-picked his lineup of eight student cast members for the radio play: Chandler Bates, Austin James Cleri, Matt Fox, Dustin Parsons, Jack Steiner, Frankie Chuter, Cameron Nalley and Lucas Prizant. The team also recruited CCM alumnus and Cincinnati Reds organist John Schutte (Music Theory, ATT '84-'87), who provided the ballpark organ music for the broadcast.
While fans anticipated the return of Major League Baseball, WVXU and CCM's revival of this rare Serling comedy received attention from The Athletic, Chicago Sun-Times, Associated Press, MLB.com, Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati Business Courier, CityBeat Cincinnati and more.
Long-time baseball fans will enjoy Serling's script and will hear references to some of baseball's biggest stars of the 1950s including: Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Stan Musial and Ted Kluszewski.
In "O'Toole From Moscow," a Russian consulate staffer named Mushnick is being sent back from New York to Moscow for re-education because of his high absences due to attending Brooklyn Dodgers games at Ebbets Field. So Mushnick and a muscular Russian security officer named Joseph Bishofsky hop a train and go as far west as their money will take them — to Cincinnati. Bishofsky panics in Cincinnati and goes to the Reds office to turn himself in, mistaking the baseball team for his Russian comrades. Mushnick bursts in to explain that Joseph — whom he calls "Joseph O'Toole" — is an outfielder wanting a tryout. The Reds give O'Toole a shot, and he ends up being a better slugger than Kluszewski — until the Russians find him.
Feature image at top: Dialect coach Sammi Grant (foreground) with cast members (from left) Austin James Cleri, Chandler Bates, Cameron Nalley, Lucas Prizant, Frankie Chuter, Matt Fox, Jack Steiner and Dustin Parsons. Photo/Richard Hess