Review of Tom Swift And His Motorcycle from Colonial Radio Theatre
I have heard the hosts of Audio Theatre Central review a couple of Colonial Radio Theatre'...
I have heard the hosts of Audio Theatre Central review a couple of Colonial Radio Theatre's productions in the past, but had never heard any for myself. However, when I found that CRT was dramatizing the Tom Swift series and a certain person was composing the music for it, I decided to make this my first listen to one of their radio dramas.
Tom Swift and His Motorcycle is a dramatization of the first book in the Tom Swift series; a series about a young boy inventor and his adventures. The book was first published in 1910. The summary of the story is as follows from CRT's website.
Young Tom Swift purchases a motorcycle and, being the inventor that he is, modifies it to his specifications in time to transport his father's new invention (a revolutionary turbine motor design) to Albany. However, a group of investors plan to steal the design for themselves, and send a gang of thieves after Tom as he travels the back-roads to Albany.
The Source Material
Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
The only big difference (at least in this book) from Stratemeyer's more famous series is that the main character, Tom, does a lot of fixing of different machines in unique ways. Sort of like a young, early-1900s MacGyver. In later books, Tom does more actual inventing. The story goes along at a good pace with plenty of humorous bits and action. The pacing of the story really shows the kind of storytelling that was popular during the time period this was written. It was a little like an interactive history lesson as you hear about the kinds of transportation that was just becoming popular and the certain way people talked. The ending was a little unexpected and kept you guessing. It also sets up the next book, Tom Swift And His Motor Boat.
The Audio DramaJust a quick disclaimer: As this is a secular story, there are certain slang words that were said in the book that were used in the drama. There was nothing harsh and nothing that you wouldn't find in early Disney cartoons or young people's books from the early 1900s.
|Original Book Cover|
Image Credit: Wikipedia
The main reason I bought this particular production was to hear the music in it. That's because the music for this story was composed by, possibly my favorite music composer ever, Jared DePasquale. This is his first time to do music for Colonial Radio Theatre. I was excited to hear that he will be composing more music for them in future productions. I enjoyed the whole story, but the true star of this drama was his score. It's whimsical, adventurous, and helps bring the listener into the time period of the story. Like any of Jared's work, they are wonderful to listen to in or out of the story. I did some homework recently and listened to some of the cues from the drama on Jared DePasquale's website. Great brain stimulus!
The only major problem I had with this production was some less-than-perfect audio levels. The music overpowered some of the dialogue in a couple of places, specifically at a point where there was a lot of action happening during a chase scene. However, through the vast majority of the drama, it was back to normal.
|Colin Budzyna stars as Tom Swift|
The sound effects were well done. They're not on the high level of Adventures in Odyssey or The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty, but they don't need to be. There are enough sound effects and music (especially the music) to draw you in and the story is more than adequate to hold your attention. If you've listened to Your Story Hour, you'll know what I mean.
Overall, this was a fun and exciting ride (pun intended). It was a great introduction for me to CRT's works. After hearing this, I'm looking forward to hearing more productions from CRT and their next Tom Swift dramatization (which is set to come out early of next year). I'd give Tom Swift and His Motorcycle 4 stars out of 5. I'd definitely recommend it to people who enjoy Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys and, of course, to anyone who likes radio drama.
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Austin Peachey is a die-hard reader and audio drama fan. He's run the Adventures in Odyssey Blog for over 8 years and has produced a few audio dramas of his own. He's also worked on the 2nd edition of The Official Guide to Odyssey and can be heard on Iliad House.