REVIEW: RADIO REDUX ENDS ITS 10TH SEASON ON A HIGH NOTE WITH OLD-RADIO COMEDY GALORE
By Daniel Buckwalter
How time flies.
Ten years ago (Oct. 9, 2009), Radio Redux did a re-creation of The War of the Worlds by Orson Wells at Springfield’s Wildish Theater. Five years later, Radio Redux moved to Hult Center’s Soreng Theater, and this weekend, the brainchild of founder and artistic director Fred Crafts shows how much it has matured and become a local institution for people who recall when radio mattered.
Radio Redux concludes its 10th season on April 12-14 — starting with Friday night’s fun performance — Burns & Allen and Friends, a salute to the comedy team of its time and perhaps all time, the husband-wife tandem of George Burns and Gracie Allen.
There is more, to be sure. The first half of Radio Redux’s program this weekend showcases excerpts from various popular radio programs in the 1940s and ’50s, before television’s glow eclipsed radio.
Some of the highlights of the first half include Pat Novak for Hire (“Rory Malone”) with Ken Hof as the gritty San Francisco private detective. Also, there is an excerpt of Dragnet (“The Case of the Copper Clapper”) with Dan Pegoda as Detective Friday. Do try to keep up with the rolling language of this excerpt because it can be complicated with all the words that start with the letters c and k, but it’s a good time.
My favorite from the first half, though, is The Romance of Helen Trent (“The Purloined Photograph”) with Rebecca Nachison playing the part of the clueless and wealthy widow who is attempting, clumsily, to keep her fortune and life together with an equally clueless son and an upstart man who is worming his way into the family fortune. If I had been of age during this soap opera, I might have yelled at the radio on behalf of Helen Trent.
The weekend, though, belongs to George Burns (Achilles Massahos) and Gracie Allen (Nachison) and the production of Income Tax Problems.
Radio Redux always encourages patrons to “see with their ears.” This is especially true with Massahos and Nachison. Neither of them looks like Burns or Allen, but their voices and inflections for the two giants is on the mark.
This is what makes the second half of the show especially enjoyable. I do have the vision of Burns and Allen. It’s a wonderful sight in my mind’s eye. It’s well done by both performers.
Radio Redux’s 10th season concludes with Burns & Allen and Friends at the Hult Center’s Soreng Theater Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Burns & Allen and Friends
When: 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, April 12-13, and 2 p.m.on Sunday, April 14.
Where: Soreng Theater, Hult Center for the Performing Arts, One Eugene Center (Seventh and Willamette streets in downtown Eugene)
Additional Details: Free pre-show talk by broadcast historian Patrick Lucanio 45 minutes before each show Jacobs Community Room; exhibit in the lobby of historic radio colleRctibles curated by Dennis Wright of the Radio Days Theater of the Mind Museum in Sutherlin; informal meet-and-greet with the cast after each performance.