The Brass Lantern

The Brass Lantern cast at Little Falls City Hall.

Little Falls, NY – This year, LiFT entered what was previously uncharted territory for the traditionally stage-based performance troupe. Focusing only on voice acting, original jazz music, and sound effects, the group debuted The Brass Lantern podcast. This project originated from Matthew Powers’ interest in exploring radio drama, then partnering with Andrew Devitt to bring a character and world to life that had remained dormant for over two decades. This month, the group brings The Brass Lantern to Uticon on Sunday, September 23 on the MVCC Utica campus.

With the support of the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts as an umbrella agency, Powers was able to apply for two grants through CNY Arts, both of which were awarded. The funding has been used primarily to promote The Brass Lantern and reach an audience both within and far outside of the Mohawk Valley geography. According to the project demographics, the podcast has had more than 1,200 downloads to date (4 episodes, 3 trailers). The audience is international with listeners in the US, Germany, Japan and Thailand! Domestically, the audience has included California, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Texas and various New York locations such as the Bronx, Schenectady and, of course, the greater Mohawk Valley area.

Listeners and fellow artists have asked about the inspiration behind Andrew Devitt’s creation. To this, Devitt explains, “The Brass Lantern is my love letter to the pulp magazine and radio heroes of the Great Depression. The best of them would pit a lone hero, often morally questionable, against a larger than life villain in plots so wild, so dizzying, and so kinetic that you’d never have to invest in a bookmark.” To complement this, Powers Shares, “I was excited for a new challenge in an area of theater that is different from my norm. Relying on voice, music, and sound effects alone to build a world means that the listeners really have to invest their imagination.”

Last month, LiFT performed their first live stage reading of an episode at The Shop in Little Falls. The show was a reader’s theater style production with Q&A following. The venue was packed with standing room only and the cover artist, Mikey Wood, traveled from Pittsburg to lend his voice and showcase the many pieces of graphic art that he has based on The Brass Lantern project. According to Powers and Devitt, that event was nothing shy of a success.

To further expand The Brass Lantern brand, LiFT has secured their attendance this month at Uticon, which is Utica’s oldest and longest-running comic book benefit show. According to the event website, the comic book show was launched in 1990 by Bob Elinskas to raise funds for the American Cancer Society and bring the fun of a comic book show to Utica. After a decade-long run, the show went on hiatus as the founder’s professional obligations no longer allowed him to handle the heavy lift solo. In 2014, Uticon was resurrected and continues to be run by Bob with the support of many necessary volunteers. The show is entirely volunteer-based with all proceeds still going to the American Cancer Society.

The Uticon website explains that while there are not scheduled events or specific programming in place, Cosplay is welcome at the event. Guests are asked to keep it “PG rated,” however, as this is an all-ages, family-friendly event. It was noted that there are specific restrictions on bringing weapons as props. Vendor applications are still available for anyone interested in showcasing their comic-oriented art. For additional details, please visit http://www.uticoncomicshow.com/.

As The Brass Lantern tagline states, “With blinding light and blazing guns, crime has nowhere to hide,” so you won’t want to miss them along with several other vendors at Uticon! The event will be held Sunday, September 23 from 10am-4pm at the Jorgensen Athletic/Events Center on the MVCC campus in Utica. Tickets are $5 for adults age 18 plus, $3 for teens age 13-17, and children 12 and younger are free.

The Brass Lantern podcast series is currently in episode four with two more in production. FREE episodes are available on the www.lift-theater.org website, Spreaker, iTunes, SoundCloud, and YouTube, as well as here – on the My Little Falls site. This project was made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by CNY Arts.