Imagine this: It’s a Friday night and you’re dressed to the nines with all of your friends in tow. In suits, hats, pearls and heels, you leave ready to jump back in time for a theater performance unlike any other. The lights fall, and the curtain rises to reveal actors poised in front of microphones, dressed in classic ‘30s garb. They lift their scripts, and you close your eyes while the sounds of radio theater fill your head.
Eugene local and founder of Radio Redux, Fred Crafts, has a vision for bringing back this lost art form with every new season of performances, and tries to include shows that will excite people of all ages. On Friday October 23rd at the Hult Center, “The Thin Man,” a comical mystery originally broadcast in 1936, will start the season with a bang.
This is an interactive experience for people of all ages courtesy of Eugene’s own Radio Redux, a theater troupe devoted to authentically recreating old radio shows by “broadcasting” using microphones, live music and old sound effects. The performers on stage even dress the part for the era the broadcast came from, so the audience can choose to have their experience be visual, or to just listen to the broadcast and imagine the scene for themselves.
“Our shows appeal to a wide range of people,” said Crafts. “For older people it’s a trip down memory lane, and for younger people it’s a brand new experience. We decided to do “The Thin Man” because it’s a great story. [The main characters] are a couple with a lot of banter, and that’s a show that the public really adores.”
The audience is also strongly encouraged to dress up themselves, explore the historical exhibits set up, and take pictures at their “selfie booth” to commemorate the blast to the past. Radio Redux aims to be a truly interactive theater experience for audience members while still doing the history justice.
Past shows include “The War of the Worlds,” “Treasure Island” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” which will be switched out for “Miracle on 34th Street” for the holiday show this year. In addition to their regular 90-minute shows, they also do a series of 30-minute shows in a segment called Radio Daze. This year’s feature will be “Sherlock Holmes.”
Radio Redux is also always looking for new, fresh talent. More importantly, the goal is to get the people in the community involved in renewing this retro art form.
“I think what I really want to get across is there’s a lot of history here,” said Crafts. “Radio had its hayday back in the ‘30s and ‘40s and we want to bring it back. It’s an art unlike any other. We make the audience engage with us through their minds what’s going on. We give the sounds effects, music, costumes, and they do the rest.”
Whether you’re looking for a new place to take Mom and Dad when they come to visit, or just an excuse to dress up other than Halloween, Radio Redux’s shows provide a unique, fun experience while drawing on history for some help.
“The Thin Man” opens Friday at 7:30p.m. and costs $15-$21.