MLC Reader’s Theatre presents radio drama

Staff photo by Connor 
Cummiskey

Eben (Race Kohl, right) receives a warning from his dead partner Jake (Joseph Kasper, second from right). Britt Ponset (Nicholas Blank, third from right) and Janie Carvill (Elizabeth Bartz, left) sit on two stumps where Ponset tells Carvill the cautionary tale of Eben.

Staff photo by Connor Cummiskey Eben (Race Kohl, right) receives a warning from his dead partner Jake (Joseph Kasper, second from right). Britt Ponset (Nicholas Blank, third from right) and Janie Carvill (Elizabeth Bartz, left) sit on two stumps where Ponset tells Carvill the cautionary tale of Eben.

NEW ULM — A compilation of adaptation on the prairie will open tomorrow for Martin Luther College’s (MLC) Reader’s Theatre.

“The Six Shooter” runs Dec. 8-10, with curtains up at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 10. Tickets are available at the door for $4. This year’s performance is a combination of two episodes of a western-themed 1950s radio drama of the same name.

“The first one is called ‘Britt Ponset’s Christmas Carol’ and it is just the plot of the regular ‘Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens but set as a western,” Director Becca Figueroa said.

In it, Britt Ponset (Nicholas Blank) meets a young girl named Janie Carvill (Elizabeth Bartz) who is running away from home because she no longer likes Christmas.

Ponset tells her the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, only now it is Eben (Race Kohl) and instead of three ghosts there is only one, though the latter was a modification by Figueroa, to simplify staging.

The second episode is “When the Shoe Doesn’t Fit,” a cowboy-style version of Cinderella, whose fairy grandmother was replaced with a traveling merchant.

Because “The Six Shooter” was an old radio show, Figueroa had to adapt it to the stage herself, she said.

That meant she was going through the script over and over to add lighting, sound effects, blocking and the rest, to translate an audio story into the visual medium of theater.

“It was kind of a slow process because I had to go through it all in my head and sometimes I would get side-tracked with ‘oh, what do I need for props here?,'” Figueroa said.

Theater-goers may notice the actors are carrying scripts around. That is not because they forgot their lines.

Reader’s Theatre requires all actors to carry their scripts, even if they know their lines, and use them as props, Figueroa said.

It makes these shows less intimidating for first-time actors or performers who have difficulty memorizing lines.

Figueroa avoided setting basically any of the show in a radio soundstage. Instead Ponset narrates from the stage.

In a throw-back to its roots, the show does open with the announcer saying the line that began all episodes of “The Six Shooter.”

“The man in the saddle is angular and long-legged,” Andrew Fenske reads. “His skin is sun-dyed brown. The gun in his holster is gray steel and rainbow mother-of-pearl, its handle unmarked. People call them both ‘the Six Shooter.'”

Connor Cummiskey can be emailed at ccummiskey@nujournal.com.

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