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Listen up for a Halloween treat

Remember the olden days of radio shows? Or do you at least remember your parents - or grandparents - telling you stories about Orson Welles? His "War of the Worlds" radio show threw thousands of listeners into a panic by way of a few phony sound effects and a little vibrato in his voice.

It was sort of like virtual reality back before anyone had any idea what virtual reality was.

You don't have to be left out just because you didn't live during that exciting period in radio history. Since 1984, the nonprofit Atlanta Radio Theatre Company has been performing, recording and broadcasting audio drama - just like the real thing, only better.

ARTC explains it this way: "We set the scene. We give you voices, sound effects, ambient atmosphere. In your imagination, you build the sets, you give faces to the voices, you design the costumes. It's like seeing a movie in your head - and you always have the best seat in the house."

ARTC's repertoire includes adaptations of classics like "The Bride of Frankenstein," "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and "The Time Machine," as well as their own original works in dark fantasy, science fiction, romance, parody and humor. The late Atlanta playwright Thomas E. Fuller was the group's original head writer, while current scripts come from the creative minds of local award-winning writers like Jerry Ahern and Brad Linaweaver.

Information about ARTC's dozens of cassettes and CDs is available at www.artc.org, if you'd like to purchase them. But what can be even more fun is experiencing a live reading, especially when it's a thriller read on Halloween night.

On Oct. 31, ARTC will perform its most recent masterpiece, "Special Order/A Case of Abuse" at Always Fresh Market in Mountain Park (www.alwaysfreshmarket.com). Dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. followed by the live performance at 7 p.m. The cost for the evening is $15, with all proceeds going to ARTC. The meal includes a choice of baked chicken or meatloaf, two sides, cornbread, iced tea or coffee and a choice of cakes for dessert. After the reading, guests can gather next door at Tut's Book Emporium, co-sponsor of the event.

As a word of caution, this is a really scary show and is not recommended for anyone under 15 years of age.

But for all us big kids, this could be the best Halloween treat ever. The only trick is to get your reservation in as soon as possible, since space is limited to 40 people. (Well, more like 38, since my husband and I are already two of them.) E-mail tutsbooks@bellsouth.net or call 678-206-0400.

Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at susanlarson4@yahoo.com.e