Radio Redux Rolls with Betsy Backstage

Her name is Elizabeth Anne Williams.

 

But you, like family, friends and her near and dear Radio Redux theater troupe, can call her Betsy. Hers is a backstage contribution to the repertory theater that presents programs heard on the radio from 1935-60. Williams has a behind-the-scenes role, and she plays it to perfection.

 

"I realized long ago I did not want to be on stage," said Williams, setting aside her theatrical background, her master's degree in interdisciplinary arts education, and family members who have long ventured into and done well in the arts.

 

These include daughter Meredith, an actor and model in New York City, and son Andrew, who graduated from the University of Oregon with an English major, a music minor and a desire to compose classical music.

 

"No," she smiled, content with her position as operations manager for Radio Redux, "I'm happy to be a facilitator ... to plan, make things happen and get things done. On stage, you have just one role."

 

Betsy Williams, sailing through life at age 59 despite the death of her husband more than three years ago,

Betsy Williams rides the freight elevator up to the Soreng Theatre on load-in day.

has had a lot of roles, however, and managed to get a lot of things done.

 

She battled and beat breast cancer.

 

She answered the call to return to college, at age 40, and secured that master's degree at San Jose State University.

 

She teaches four to seven Jazzercise classes a week.

 

She is an usher for a good many Hult Center productions.

 

"Betsy is known as a person who gets things done," said Fred Crafts, the founder of Radio Redux who recruited Williams into the Radio Redux family in 2012, three years after the thespians with microphones and 1940s costumes began their shows.

 

"She is so organized and works so well with people," Crafts added. "She's so focused, sees the big picture and sees the details that are needed to make the picture big."

 

And that picture, it seems, never fades to black.

Crafts needed a volunteer coordinator for the company back when Radio Redux staged its productions at the Wildish Theatre in Springfield. Jobs such as ushers, ticket-takers, concession staffing and a plethora of other duties were staffed by much-needed and much- appreciated volunteers.

 

That has changed since Radio Redux moved to downtown Eugene’s Hult Center for the Performing Arts, with its built-in staff.

 

Williams, however, keeps those earlier staffing and other miscellaneous needs in mind.

 

"When a show is starting to get geared up, I'm always on a quest, keeping my eyes open for bow ties, folding chairs from the 1940s, costumes, volunteers or whatever is needed," said Williams, introduced at birth to the arts 

"Betsy is known as a person who gets things done," says Fred Crafts.

when her mother named her after a poem by James Whitcomb Riley.

 

Williams knows when to take a break, delve into a good read, dance at least part of the night away and "refuel" at her South Eugene home.

 

But she seems continually to be on-call. When a Christmas tree was needed for a holiday show, Williams plowed through garage sales and surfaced with a 9-foot artificial tree.


"It was only 20 bucks," said Williams, born and raised in Los Gatos, Calif., before departing the San Francisco Bay Area with her family to become a Eugene resident in 2001.

"She's so focused, sees the big picture and sees the details that are needed to make the picture big."

— Fred Crafts

"I got the stand to go with it at another garage sale. I think it's the thrill of the hunt."

 

That’s aided by an abundance of push.

 

"Sometimes dealing with the actors is like herding cats," said Crafts, noting another category monitored by Williams.

 

"I use an electric cattle prod and duct tape," she said, smiling.

 

— By Bob Rodman. Bob retired as a sports copy editor for The Register-Guard.