Oldcastle presents holiday variety show


BENNINGTON — Oldcastle Theater Company will celebrate the holiday spirit with music, old-time radio classics, and a huge cast when the curtain rises on its fifth annual Radio Variety Show at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15.

A host of familiar actors and singers of the theatre company will join with the Mt. Anthony Union High School Chorus, and the Bennington County Choral Society to bring songs of the season in the style of a 1940s radio program.

Oldcastle Theatre artistic members will include Christine Decker, Richard Howe, Tim Foley, Willy Jones, Jody June Schade, Gary Allan Poe, and Philip Lance; singers will include Amy Gaither Hayes, Meredith Meurs, Lynn Sweet, Matt Edwards, Peter Langstaff, and Cheryl Howard. Lynn Sweet, Matt Edwards, and drummer Mike Chapman will provide the musical accompaniment. There will also be surprises and, there is a rumor that Santa Claus may make a special appearance.

The radio programs will include a Jack Benny program. Benny was one of the most popular and enduring of American comedians. His regular crew of performers included his wife, Mary Livingstone, announcer Don Wilson, singer Dennis Day and many of a thousand voices, Mel Blanc. Benny was a notorious skinflint who was often the butt of the jokes on the program. Benny, unlike several other radio comedians such as Fred Allen, easily made the leap to television in the fifties with the same cast in place for more than two additional decades.

The Oldcastle show will also include another program that made the switch from radio to television, the iconic police procedural "Dragnet." The episode that Oldcastle will excerpt was created by actor-director Jack Webb, first for radio, then for TV, where it was rerun every Christmas season for several years. More than 300 weekly radio programs were made from 1949 through 1957. The television series was one of the most popular shows f the 1950s, and was revived in the 1960s. There was a film version made in 1954. fans of the show were known to frequently quote the show's most famous catchphrase, "Just the facts, Ma'am."

Oldcastle's holiday show has become a seasonal event than many in the community look forward to each year. "It's an opportunity to get together to her traditional holiday songs, have some laughs and get a glimpse into the bygone era of radio variety, according to Oldcastle's Producing Artistic Director, Eric Peterson. "Those not old enough to remember the glory days of radio may remember the television holiday specials by the likes of Andy Williams, Dinah Shore, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Pat Boone and others. Our show is both nostalgic and simply good, informal fun. I am particularly happy that so many of the actors were work with during the theatrical season come back to join us annually. It also gives the audience a chance to hear Amy, Cheryl, Peter, Rick and others sing holiday songs folks have loved for decades."

For additional information or to make reservations, call Oldcastle at 802-447-0564 or visit www.oldcastletheatre.org.



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