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Ralph Radio Theatre pays tribute to Ralph Steadman, troops with '1941 Christmas'



COURTESY PHOTOS: NATHANIEL WILLIAMS - Its the cast of '1941 Christmas From Home,' which includes sound-maker David Ian, Grace Allen as Evelyn Sanders and Nick DEttorre as Jack Warren.Paying tribute is what the remade “1941 Christmas From Home” is all about — paying tribute to Ralph Steadman, an improvisational actor and radio host who died on Christmas Eve last year, and, of course, paying tribute to the troops who responded after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

In a way, although the show tells a 74-year-old story, it’s a very modern issue, says Kimberly Poe, the producer and director who worked with Steadman in radio, and collaborated with “1941 Christmas” writer Pat Kruis Tellinghusen to bring the show back to the stage.

“Seeing what’s happening in our world right now, it becomes more relevant every day, it’s like we’re going sideways into World War III,” Poe says. “For younger people, you can know what it feels like thinking about 9/11.

“For awhile there, we joined together as one, we got the spirit, and it’s still there, and it can still happen.”

The show will be performed at the Clinton Street Theater through Dec. 13, and is the first in a five-part series, with each Christmas show corresponding to each year of World War II. Eight local actors, including veteran sound effects designer David Ian (an original show member), re-enact a live radio show for re-broadcast to troops overseas, a period production set in Portland in 1941. The show follows sweethearts Jack and Evelyn, as Jack goes to war and Evelyn and others adjust to war times. There is live music, local stories, songs, sketches and ads.

The show was originally staged by the old Tapestry Theatre for 10 years, starting in 1999.

Poe and her Ralph Radio Theatre organized the re-created “1941 Christmas” in honor of Steadman, a longtime actor and radio man also known as “Ralph Radio.” He and Poe worked on a show at old KGW 620 in 1989-91, and had a reunion show on KPAM 860. Steadman, shortly after playing Jacob Marley in “A Christmas Carol” in Eugene, ironically, died from a heart attack on Christmas Eve 2014.

“When he was gone, I challenged myself, can I do this without him?” Poe says. “I challenged myself to do it in his memory. I’ve poured my heart and soul into this thing.”

Tellinghusen was open to updating the show. “It’s always joyous for a playwright to see her work come to life again,” she says, “but doubly delightful to connect this production with someone so loved as Ralph Steadman. I hope the ‘Christmas From Home’ series will make this a jubilant celebration of his life and his affection for radio and theater.”

Along with Ian, the cast includes Joseph Silver as emcee/Santa Claus Alfred Bell; Nick D’Ettorre as Jack Warren; Grace Allen as Evelyn Sanders; and Chuck Weed, Laura Hiszczynskyj, Jan Rosenthal and Laura Myers.

A portion of the proceeds goes to Homes For Heroes. The show continues at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11 and 12, and 2 p.m. Dec. 13.

Tickets are $15-$20. For more: www.RalphRadioTheatre.com. You can listen to original “Ralph Radio” shows at www.RalphRadioTheatre.com.

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