It’s a celebration with an Old West feel when Radio Redux takes to the stage with its holiday show, “A Cowboy Christmas,” featuring guest artists as well as well as regulars such as Dan Pegoda (above)

By Randi Bjornstad

Of course, cowboys love Christmas.

“Cowboys and Christmas go together like Scrooge and Marley,” Fred Crafts quips, referring to Charles Dickens’ famous yuletide story, “A Christmas Carol,” which his Radio Redux players have performed several times in past years.

But this year, they’re doing “A Cowboy Christmas,” reinterpreting vintage radio programs as the wranglers of the Old West might have envisioned them. Performances will be Dec. 16-18 at Eugene’s Hult Center for the Performing Arts.

“We’re honoring our early American heritage by crooning cowboy songs and telling Western stories the way singing cowboys like Roy Rogers and Gene Autry did during Christmas seasons of bygone years,” Crafts said. “I can’t wait for the public to see us all gussied up in our fanciest cowboy duds —and to hear the cast adopt amusing cowboy voices.”

This go-round, the off-the-cuff plots will thicken onstage at a fictitious spread called Rancho Redux, as well as reproducing radio versions of holiday episodes from the popular “Gunsmoke” and “The Six Shooter” series.

Actress Adriana Ripley will make a guest appearance at "Rancho Redux" in Radio Redux's holiday show, "A Cowboy Christmas
Actress Adriana Ripley will make a guest appearance at “Rancho Redux” in Radio Redux’s holiday show, “A Cowboy Christmas

The scene will be set in the ranch house where the ranch hands gather around the Christmas tree to share favorite holiday stories and songs. There will be lots of Christmas carols and cowpoke-related songs in this variety show, with special appearances by the Jewel Tones, the Hanson Family Singers, Al Villanueva, Adriana Ripley and Bill Reid.

That still will leave plenty of time for corny holiday jokes, recitations of cowboy poetry and an audience singalong of favorite Christmas tunes.

“We’ll perform it the Radio Redux way, the way a vintage radio program would have been back in the day,” Crafts said.

He encourages the audience to dress up in the spirit of the Old West to lend their own holiday spirit to the occasion.

The “Gunsmoke” show that Radio Redux will recreate features Marshal Matt Dillon — played by Ken Hof — as he’s drawn into the middle of a hillbilly feud that threatens, literally, “to take the life out of Christmas,” Crafts said.

In “The Six Shooter,” lawman Britt Ponset, played by Dan Pegoda, tells a youngster a life-changing tale with a Western setting but based on one of the most famous Christmas stories of all time, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

Judi Weinkauf, who appears regularly in Radio Redux productions, will be onstage in "A Cowboy Christmas"
Judi Weinkauf, who appears regularly in Radio Redux productions, will be onstage in “A Cowboy Christmas”

Other members of the sat include actors Achilles Massahos, Bill Barrett, Don Aday, Jonathan Ward, Judi Weinkauf and Kim Donahey, with Fred Crafts as writer and director.

Radio Redux does “A Cowboy Christmas”

When: 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 16-17 and 2 p.m. on Dec. 18

Where: The Soreng Theater at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts at Seventh and Willamette streets in downtown Eugene

Tickets: $15 to $22, available at the Hult Center box office, 541-682-5000, or online at radioreduxusa.com or hultcenter.org

Added attractions:

* “Explore,” a free behind-the-scenes talk by radio and film historian Patrick Lucanio, 45 minutes before each show in the Jacobs Community Room on the lower level of the Hult Center

* An exhibit of historic radio collectibles by Dennis Wright and a display of period memorabilia from the Lane County Historical Museum

* A “Meet-and-Greet” with the cast and crew in the lobby after each show

Randi Bjornstad

Has more than 30 years' journalism experience after a previous stint as a land-use planner. Got first rejection slip at age 11, but the editor wrote an encouraging note. Lives in Eugene, Ore., with husband-and-photographer Paul Carter, adorable dog Tallulah and quirky cats Pearl, Audrey, Garbo, Harry and Ozma.

randi has 107 posts and counting.See all posts by randi

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