The thriller "Sorry, Wrong Number," one of the greatest shows in radio history, will raise goosebumps when Eugene radio-theater company Radio Redux re-creates it, live, along with the chiller Backseat Driver, at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene on Nov. 8-10.
Radio Redux — which re-imagines historic radio shows live on stage using only vocal prowess, live sound effects, period-appropriate music, minimal sets and vintage costumes — performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the Hult Center’s Soreng Theater.
Show tickets—$23 (adults), $20 (seniors 65+), $16 (college/youth), and $16 each for a group of 5+—and a four-show season ticket package—$73.60 (adults), $67.20 (Seniors 65+) and $60 (youth)—are available by going to the Radio Redux website (www.radioreduxusa.com), by calling the Hult Center box office (541-682-5000), or by visiting the ticket office in the Hult Center lobby (12-5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. Saturday).
“What a treat to be able to provide people with one of radio’s most famous shows as a live experience. Watching it being created on stage is a simply amazing aural adventure,” says Radio Redux founder/director Fred Crafts. “That’s why we say that Radio Redux is ‘radio worth watching.’”
Crafts adds, “Podcast and audiobook fans say Radio Redux is like watching a podcast or audiobook production live on stage, able to see in person how sound effects are created.”
Sorry, Wrong Number (1943) and Backseat Driver (1949) are two of the most highly acclaimed shows ever performed on the long-running Suspense program (1940-1962), the gold standard of radio’s tense mystery dramas. Radio historian John Dunning (The Encyclopedia of Old-time Radio) called Sorry, Wrong Number “the most effective radio show ever” while radio/film star and director Orson Welles praised it as “the greatest single radio script ever written.”
"Sorry, Wrong Number" is essentially a one-woman show that originally starred Agnes Moorehead as Mrs. Stevenson, a spoiled, bedridden married woman who, while listening to what seems to be a crossed telephone connection, hears two men planning a woman's murder. The radio show was so popular it was reprised seven times between 1943 and 1960 and was adapted as a 1948 film noir movie, starring Burt Lancaster and Barbara Stanwyck, who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Also on the program is "Backseat Driver", written for Suspense by Sally Thorson, who also wrote episodes of The Whistler and other mystery programs. It borrows from the urban legend, “The Killer in the Backseat,” a cautionary anecdote that has appeared in many articles on crime prevention whose point is to always check the backseat of your car before driving. "Backseat Driver" is noted for radio comedians Jim and Marion Jordan (aka Fibber McGee and Molly) appearing, out of character, in it twice (1949 and 1951).
In Radio Redux’s production, award-winning actress Rebecca Nachison stars as the frantic, housebound woman who overhears a murder plot in Sorry, Wrong Number, while Achilles Massahos and Judi Weinkauf play a couple carjacked by serial killer Ken Hof in Backseat Driver. Radio Redux’s versatile voice actors Diana Aday, Joseph Gilg, Dan Pegoda, Jennifer Sellers and Daniel Squire create multiple characters in the shows.
Al Villanueva provides a dramatic soundscape and live sound effects are by Judy Sinnott, Jennifer Sellers and Debi Noel, who also sing as The Jewel Tones, backed by Al Villanueva (piano), Dean Livelybrooks (bass) and Gary Fetter (drums).
Pre-show and intermission music is by the 1940s-style jazz group The Redux Rhythmaires, comprised of Michael Anderson (guitar/leader), Matt Treder (piano), Dean Livelybrooks (bass), Rob Neidig (drums), and Kirstin Parmeter-Nusser (vocals).
In addition to an entertaining production, suitable for all ages, patrons can experience:
A free, illustrated behind-the-show talk by radio-film historian Patrick Lucanio 60 minutes before show time in the Hult Center’s Soreng Theatre—at 6:30 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
A lobby exhibition of radio collectibles by curator Dennis Wright of the Radio Days Theater of the Mind Museum in Sutherlin.
An informal meet-the-cast encounter in the Hult Center lobby after the show.
Radio Redux’s 2019-20 season also includes:
"The Radio Redux Christmas Special" – Favorite holiday songs and stories deliver seasonal merriment in a delightful revue. (December 20- 22, 2019)
"Sunset Boulevard" - A silent-screen star’s old desires clash with modern Hollywood’s new ways. (February 7-9, 2020)
"Stagecoach" - A stagecoach full of frontier misfits rolls to one of the best Westerns ever. (April 3-5, 2020)