‘Radio Redux’ makes ’em laugh
By Dorothy Velasco
For The Register-Guard
With its final show of the season, Fred Crafts’ Radio Redux celebrates its 10th year of existence, the first five at Wildish Community Theater and the last five at the Soreng Theater in the Hult.
The show features a complete radio episode of the Burns & Allen Show, revisits previous seasons with short excerpts from earlier shows, and unveils next season’s five-show lineup. The mention of “Sorry, Wrong Number” for next year caused a happy response from the audience.
Who are these loyal Radio Redux fans? It’s an eclectic crowd dressed in fancy cowboy shirts, immaculate overalls, an occasional feather boa, regular casual or dressy wear, and some period costumes from the pre-TV era when radio was the only mass entertainment to reach listeners in their homes.
Radio Redux, which simulates a live radio broadcast, is fun for all ages. The stage is packed with a row of microphones, a troupe of actors, sound effect equipment and a fine jazz ensemble. An actor holds up a huge applause sign when appropriate and the audience always obeys.
Between skits the Jewel Tones (Debi Noel, Jennifer Sellers and Judy Sinnott) perform period songs and comic singing commercials. At intermission the expert ensemble (Jim Greenwood, Michael Anderson, Dean Livelybrooks and Rob Neidig) plays old hits.
The headline entertainment, “Burns & Allen,” is an amusing episode about the travails of the couple’s worn-out tax accountant (Sandy Silverthorne).
Gracie (Rebecca Nachison) has her own wacky ideas about taxes and George (Achille Massahos) does his best to control the damage.
All three are delightful.
The excerpts from “Our Miss Brooks,” “Bob and Ray,” “Helen Trent,” “Fibber McGee and Molly,” and others, are enjoyably performed by Ken Hof, Carol Philips, Al Villanueva, Sellers and the rest of the troupe, but the offerings are so short that they don’t have time to develop.
The exceptions are two skits that brilliantly play with tongue-twisting words. “The Case of the Copper Clapper,” a satire of “Dragnet” that appeared on the Johnny Carson show, is reenacted here to great success by Dan Pegoda as Joe Friday and Silverthorne as Herbie.
Herbie tells Friday about a catastrophic case in which nearly every bit of information begins with a C sound.
The skit piles on more and more information up to, “If ever I catch kleptomaniac Claude Cooper from Cleveland, who copped my clean copper clappers that were kept in a closet — I’ll clobber him!”
The hilarious final skit, leaving the audience roaring with joy, is Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First.” Massahos and Don Aday have performed this gem numerous times, and may they continue for years to come.
Both of these rapid, wordplay skits hark back to a style popular in vaudeville days. Although much humor doesn’t stand the test of time, these cleverly written and expertly performed skits are as funny now as the day they premiered.