(Above: Nancy Hopps and Dan Pegoda play lead roles in Radio Redux’s, “The Shop Around the Corner”; photo by Paul Carter)
By Randi Bjornstad
It’s set around Christmastime — although it could be any time of year — so it’s not exactly a Christmas story in the way that Radio Redux has done them in the past, with classics such as “A Christmas Carol,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street.”
But “The Shop Around the Corner” is a gift in itself, the story of two clerks in a small shop in Budapest who dislike each other intensely, but who unwittingly become pen pals without knowing each other’s identity and through their correspondence find themselves falling in love.
It’s a clever plot, so much so that in 1998 it was made into a movie, set in the computer era with email instead of snail mail. That version, “You’ve Got Mail,” starred Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
Even before that, it had been made into a film in 1940, with James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan in the lead roles. There also was a movie musical version in the late 1940s, “In the Good Old Summertime,” with Judy Garland and Van Johnson, and a Broadway musical in 1963, called “She Loves Me.”
The Screen Guild Theater and the Lux Radio Theatre both did radio show versions of the story in the early 1940s.
The Radio Redux production at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 8-10 has Achilles Massahos in the role of the store owner, with Dan Pegoda and Nancy Hopps playing the young will-they-or-won’t-they-be lovers, Alfred Kralik and Klara Novak.
The cast also includes Radio Redux regulars Scott Barkhurst, Judi Weinkauf, Rebecca Nachison, Steve Wehmeier, Al Villanueva and Nathan Ward.
“The Shop Around the Corner” is only part of the fun with this Radio Redux variety show, which includes a number of other acts — including plenty of holiday music — to fill out the program.
The entire performance lasts about 90 minutes.
The Shop Around the Corner
When: 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 8 and 9; and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 10
Where: Soreng Theater, Hult Center for the Performing Arts, One Eugene Center, at Seventh and Willamette streets in downtown Eugene
Additional details: Starting 45 minutes before each performance, radio and film historian Patrick Lucanio gives a free behind-the-show talk in the Jacobs Community Room on the Hult Center’s lower level; there’s also an exhibit of historic memorabilia curated by Bob Hart, director of the Lane County Historical Museum, plus radio collectibles from Dennis Wright of the Radio Days Theater of the Mind Museum in Sutherlin