The Red Deer College (RDC) mainstage performance is finally doing the Christmas show RDC Instructor and Director Tom Bradshaw always wanted with Retro Radio Christmas Review.
“For a number of years I wanted to do a Christmas show,” Bradshaw said. “This year we have the opportunity to do a little bit of experimentation in making our own show.”
The show features scripts from five classic radio holiday shows including Lucille Ball’s My Favourite Husband, Orson Welles’ A Christmas Carol, Archie Andrews, Father Knows Best and Dragnet.
“We started with the scripts as starting points and then used the cast to build a story around it,” Bradshaw said. “We set the whole thing in the early to mid 1950s. It is based out of Red Deer College, but maybe not the Red Deer College people remember.”
The show is set on Christmas Eve in a fictional RDC college radio station that has brought together the biggest starts in radio.
“We have a selection of shows you will see every performance,” Bradshaw said. “A Christmas Carol will always be our second act, but we are going to rotate some of the other shows in the first act. Our cast has worked really hard looking into who these people were historically and have created their characters based on the character they are playing in the show.”
Bradshaw said the creation of the characters is something that it is an important part of their curriculum at RDC.
“We had a basic script but a lot of it was asking, ‘How do we tell this story?’” Bradshaw said. “We have asked questions like ‘did Orson Welles from A Christmas Carol and Lucille Ball from My Favourite Husband ever meet? Did they ever work together?’ As the students started to research, they discovered that a lot of these radio personalities did work together.
“They have brought that research forward into the show and have created characters, some of which were big radio stars, but kind of turned themselves away from celebrity and were never heard from again.”
Bradshaw said radio is a perfect way for performers to work on their acting chops.
“I’m not only an acting instructor, I also do the voice and speech work here,” he said. “I have always thought of radio plays as something that could stretch the use of the voice and also work on their creative skills as well. We started to work on them and it went really well.”
The mainstage performance, put on by second-year senior students, will be the first of three shows this season, which will mark the end of RDC’s two-year program.
“It has been a great year, and in some ways this feels like the last hurrah because this is the last year of our two-year program,” Bradshaw said. “Hopefully we will hear about government approval for when we will be coming back with a brand-new four year program. That is incredibly exciting because what we can do with students in two years is quite remarkable — but just wait until we have them for four years.”
The show, according to Bradshaw, is perfect for the whole family and is an excellent way to get into the holiday spirit.
“It just seems that as we go on, there is less opportunities for families, even at Christmas time, to go out and see something they all can enjoy. It is a little challenging and risqué at points, but we keep it into the family vein. It is a great way for families to celebrate the holiday season with us,” he said.
The show will run Nov. 23rd to Dec. 2nd.