A stagecoach packed with misfits dashes across the desert in a race against life or death in Fred Crafts’ Radio Redux Players’ radio theater adaptation of one of the greatest Western motion pictures of all-time, Stagecoach, in April at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene.
Stagecoach will be performed at 7:30 p.m. July 17 and 2 p.m. July 18-19 in the Hult Center’s Soreng Theater.
Show tickets — $23 (adults), $20 (seniors 65+), $16 (college/youth), and $16 each for a group of 5 or more —are available by going to the Radio Redux website (www.radioreduxusa.com), by calling the Hult Center box office (541-682-5000) or by visiting the ticket office in the Hult Center lobby (12-5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. Saturday).
“Stagecoach is one of the greatest Western stories ever told,” says producer/director Fred Crafts, who heads the Eugene-based radio theater troupe. “Corruption! Gun-fire! Romance! This story has it all,” Crafts says.
“Radio Redux performs historical radio programs the old-fashioned way, using only vocal prowess, live sound effects, period-appropriate music, minimal sets and vintage costumes — but also with new touches,” says Crafts. “Not only do we provide fascinating sounds to listen to but we also show the audience how we do it. That’s why we say that Radio Redux is ‘radio worth watching.’ ”
Crafts adds, “Podcast and audiobook fans say Radio Redux is like watching a podcast or audiobook production live on stage, able to see in person how sound effects are created.”
Already this season Radio Redux has done old-time radio favorites as 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Duffy’s Tavern, Suspense, Sunset Boulevard and Sorry Wrong Number.
Stagecoach, set in the Arizona territory in the 1880s, details a simple stagecoach journey that gets complicated when a group of desperate strangers – a doctor with a penchant for drink, a vagabond lady of the night, a pregnant woman, a thieving banker, a whiskey salesman, a stage driver, a U.S. Marshal and a prison escapee – are thrown together on a hell-for-leather stagecoach dash through Apache territory.
The 1939 film, directed by John Ford and starring Claire Trevor and John Wayne, is often cited as Wayne’s breakthrough role, although it did not win him an Academy Award. However, one went to fellow stage rider Thomas Mitchell, who played the doctor (Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor) and one to Stagecoach’s Richard Hageman, W. Franke Harlin, John Leopold and Leo Shuken (Academy Award for Best Music Scoring). Director John Ford won the New York Film Critics Award for Best Director.
“Stagecoach showed that Western movies could be much more interesting than just a shoot-’em-up adventure story. It placed compelling characters in the pressure cooker of a frightening situation and changed in positive ways that touch our heart,” Crafts said. “That’s the story we’ll emphasize.”
For this Radio Redux production, veteran stage actor and company stalwart Ken Hof creates the key role of the Ringo Kid (the John Wayne role), who falls for Dallas, a wanton woman forced out of town, played by Nancy Hopps. Paul Rhoden portrays the doctor with a stashed flask, Bill Barrett the dogged marshal, Achilles Massahos the plucky stage driver, Earl Ruttencutter the thieving banker, Sandy Silverthorne the conniving conman, Bill Reid the surly roadhouse manager, Daniel Squire the cavalry officer, Diana Aday the bossy town-matron, and Kim Donahey the pregnant cavalry officer’s wife.
Electronic sound effects will be created by Daniel Squire, with foley sound effects by Debi Noel, Jennifer Sellers, Judy Sinnott. Cowboy songs will be sung by the Jewel Tones (Noel, Sellers and Sinnott) and by the Radio Redux Wranglers — Michael Anderson, guitar/leader; Matt Treder, piano; Dean Livelybrooks, bass; Rob Neidig, drums; Kirstin Parmeter, vocals; and Nancy Meston, violin.
“Our Radio Redux shows are recreations done as authentically as possible,” Crafts said. “Ours is a heritage preservation effort that we also make theatrically entertaining for the audience. For instance, seeing the same actor using different voices to create multiple characters is great fun,” Crafts said.
Stagecoach, whose screenplay by Dudley Nichols and Ben Hecht is loosely based on Ernest Haycox’s story “The Stage to Lordsburg,” was adapted for radio and broadcast as a half-hour program on NBC’s “Screen Directors Playhouse” on Jan. 9, 1949, with John Wayne and Claire Trevor recreating their roles. The Radio Redux script is based on that old-time radio show.
In addition to an entertaining production suitable for all ages, patrons can experience:
A free, illustrated behind-the-show talk by radio-film historian Patrick Lucanio 60 minutes before show time in the Hult Center’s Soreng Theatre—at 6:30 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
A lobby exhibition of radio collectibles by curator Dennis Wright of the Radio Days Theater of the Mind Museum in Sutherlin.
An informal meet-the-cast encounter in the Hult Center lobby after the show.