The Alamo
(Audio Cassette)
Running time: 87 minutes $9.99
The Colonial Radio Theatre On The Air

Radio has been called the "theater of the mind." The Alamo, presented here for the first time as a radio dramatization, is a professional production that uses talented actors, realistic sound effects, and an able musical score to tell a story. Much like a good book, it will transport you to another place and time where you become more than a casual observer.

The story is told from the standpoint of a young David Cummings an actual Alamo defender from Pennsylvania and begins when he, like so many others, answers the call for volunteers in the Texas Revolution. We travel with Cummings to Texas and along the way meet a bevy of characters, some familiar others not-so-familiar.

This dramatization is just that, drama and as such is also entertainment and should not be taken by the listener to be an accurate reference resource. The writers stuck fairly close to history, but in some cases chose to take artistic license for the sake of telling a good story.

For example, our protagonist, David Cummings, who was 27 at the time of the siege, is suddenly 16 years old. I am not sure why the writers did this when they could have easily chosen other defenders who were that young or simply chosen someone else. This is not a detractor from the story because 99.9% of the population doesn't know David Cummings from Adam, so for most part it doesn't matter. The Colonial Radio Theater players are story tellers and boy do they tell a whopping good story.

I was pleased that William Barrett Travis was presented as a young man (he was 26 when he died) but rolled my eyes when they had him draw the line in the sand. This, and "Moses" Rose going over the wall shortly thereafter were the only instances I noted where lore supplanted history. The writers can be forgiven though, because Travis's line in the sand is part of our cultural consciousness and as such, it effectively added to the drama. The Alamo was about choices and the"line in the sand" scene efficiently depicts the ultimate choice. In the end our hero, Cummings, did not want to die, but was willing to give up his life for something bigger than himself. By experiencing it with the characters you understand WHY so many chose to stand and fight when they knew death was a certainty.

The producers choice of vocal talents was generally good. However, I must admit that I winced at the characterizations of Tejanos or Mexican nationals. It was obvious to this listener that these were not Hispanic actors but rather non-Hispanics actors using a forced accent. (Santa Anna sounded a little like Bela Lugosi.) In fairness, I may be a little picayunish due to my Hispanic heritage and this detail might not be noticed by most.

The Alamo does not contain any colorful language, but sometimes the dialog and action get a little rough. The story also deals with the subjects of death and duty in a realistic fashion and may be too intense for younger children, so I would give this cassette a PG rating. While still a family offering, The characterizations in The Alamo are not unnecessarily sanitized, so you still get the idea that some of defenders were from rough-and-ready stock.

The quality of this digital recording is excellent. The sound effects were realistic and the stereo separation greatly added to the sense of spatial presence, especially in the final battle sequence. The music, as it should, heightens the drama without detracting from the overall production.

If you like the story and drama of the Alamo, then I would recommend this tape. However, if you are looking for historical documentation, stick to books.

Randell Tarin
Managing Editor
Alamo de Parras