Marshall McLuhan wrote that when you speak on the radio you have no face and no body. This is a big part of why, as a youngster, I enjoyed radio drama; I would listen and imagine all the performers and myself folded together in a cozy abstract environment. Radio drama enthusiasts rhapsodize about how radio allows the listener to imagine the visuals; I would add that they allow the listener to NOT imagine any more visuals than they want. I like to imagine the radio drama world as a series of warm, quilted beds in dark rooms, with the actors all snuggled up together (this is very much a pre-sexual holdover from my childhood) in the comfy dark.
Stop laughing at me!
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I've read and enjoyed the novel Ragtime, but never seen the movie or checked out the musical. I suspect the musical format is a better medium for a Ragtime adaptation. The novel has multiple storylines and is saturated with information; in the movies it's hard to do justice to that without compressing it, being confusing, or being offputtingly arty and abstract. In a musical (particularly post-Sondheim) songs can provide that richness of detail and information while being entertaining, rather than seeming like an infodump. Set it to song and it's entertainment as well as information. Movies tend to thrive on saturation of sensuousness rather than saturation of information.