NightMARE Players



The NightMARE players were a group of individuals who enjoyed performing old time radio scripts. The group was formed in 1981 and since that time have given many performances. Mainly the performances were given for the enjoyment for the MARE membership. However, a few have been given before other groups. Because of attrition caused by death and age the last performance of the NightMARE Players was in 2011.

Through the years the NightMARE Players membership fluctuated from as many as 15 participants to as little as seven. All members had their turns at major roles, minor roles, doing sound effects and directing.

Two of NightMARE's members wrote scripts that were performed by the Players. The late Jerry Melotik and Mike Leannah. In point of fact, Mike's script of Dragnet won first place in the "Friends of Old Time Radio" script contest and was performed by a group of amateurs and Old Time Radio legends. Then, two years later his Lone Ranger script, “A Visit from Mother” also won first prize. In between his two first prizes, another of his scripts won second prize.

Mike is a very talented writer who not only writes prize winning scripts, but also has had his book “Waiting for Dinner or Death,” published. “Waiting for Dinner or Death" is a collection of short stories. It is in the Milwaukee County Library if you would care to read it. The scripts that Mike has written for the NightMARE Players rival that of anything done during the Golden Age of Radio.

Mike also edited the book, “Well! Reflections On the Life and Career of Jack Benny.” Mark Higgins, Ron Sayles and Marc Reed, all members of MARE also contributed to the book.

Wisconsin Historical Society Press has also published a book by Leannah titled 

"A Little "Something for Everyone" It is the story of Lauerman Brothers Department Stores. First opened in 1890 as a general store in the lumber-boom town of Marinette, Lauerman Brothers Department Stores operated with a "Code of Ethics" and a devotion to offering diverse merchandise, superior customer service, and popular "frosted malt" ice cream cones. The store remained a vital piece of the community fabric in small towns throughout Northern Wisconsin, Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Iowa.

It is sad that the Players have disbanded, but it eventually had to happen. All good things must come to an end and this was a good thing.

Article from May 2002 SPERDVAC Newsletter

NightMARE Players keep old-time radio alive and well in Milwaukee

Created in 1981, the group has done 18 recreations

The Milwaukee Area Radio Enthusiasts (MARE) created in 1975, has a subgroup call The NightMARE Players. The group was formed in 1981 and to date has done 18 recreations, and the group tries to do at least one recreation each year, usually at the parent group’s September meeting. As organizer Ron Sayles says, “The Players were created to entertain MARE, but it has become much more that that.”

Ron has been “fortunate enough to have been the only person to have appeared in every one of the Player’s productions.”

Normally, the NightMARE Players recreate scripts that were originally done on old-time radio; however, the Players have done four original scripts that were written by members of MARE. The late Jerry Melotik wrote “The Fifth Horseman,” and Mike Leannah has written three. His first was an episode for “Gunsmoke” titled “A Bad Day at Dodge.” and an original called “An Old Time Radio Caper.” Mike’s script for “Dragnet” titled “What a Drag...Net” won first place in the Friends of Old-time Radio script writing contest and was performed in Newark at their annual convention. As Ron states, “they may have done it better, but we done it first!”

The NightMARE Players group does not specialize in any one genre, having performed recreations of scripts for such diverse series as “Boston Blackie”, “Gunsmoke”, “A Man Called X”, and “It Pays to Be Ignorant”. the latter being an original scripted by Derek Tague. Ron also notes that they have done a recreation of “Life with Luigi” only their version was “Life with Louisa” since their program had a female lead.

“We all take our turns doing sound effects, directing and taking the lead or taking minor parts,” Ron Says. Ron added that “several of the scripts that we recreated were from the SPERDVAC library.

The programing is not the only diverse thing about the group. Despite claiming that the reason for their existence is to entertain the MARE membership, the group has performed their recreations for diverse audiences, including The Badger Home for the Blind, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the Ozaukee Historical Society, McDonald’s Corporate Christmas Party, the Elm Grove American Legion, and they have been part of the annual meeting of the MenoHarmonee Barber Shop Chorus.

“We’ve been at it for 21 years.” Ron says, “and God willing we’ll be at it for another 21 years or longer.”

The group performs its radio recreations for, as Ron states, “the fun of doing them, but we actually have been paid for doing two of our recreations. The money went into the MARE treasury.

“Rehearsals are especially fun. A lot of clowning around, but when it comes time to be serious, we are serious."

Ron adds "we want to keep old time radio alive and what better way than to recreate the programs of old."