A perennial Christmas favorite “aired” at Bainbridge’s Paxton Theatre Saturday night, Dec. 21, performed in the fashion of an old-time radio broadcast that was last done some 72 years ago.
Before television became the dominant entertainment medium in American homes, the “Lux Radio Theatre” aired one-hour presentations of major motion pictures as part of its line-up, often times with the original movie cast members reprising their roles for radio.
“Miracle on 34th Street” originally aired on NBC radio on Dec. 22, 1947.
Tim Koehl, the chairman of the Paxton Theatre Foundation, told The Times-Gazette that the production was not only a seasonal favorite but also gave theatre goers an opportunity to experience “theatre of the mind,” just like audiences did over two generations ago in the days of live dramatic radio.
“We call this a ‘readers’ theatre’ in that we had 17 polished individuals on stage who read the lines that we know so very well,” he said. “Just like the movie, this transcends generations since we had three generations up on stage and all of them know the story very well.”
With the new year on the horizon, Koehl said the Paxton Theatre’s plans for 2020 resemble a stool with four legs supporting its efforts.
One of the legs are the theatre performances, such as Saturday’s radio play, but also encompasses the summertime children’s theatre, where a week-long camp is held, complete with auditions and rehearsals.
“Over the past five years, we’ve been able to produce what would be called a major junior production,” he said.
The second leg of the four-legged stool is the Paint Valley Jamboree, which Koehl said remains the longest running country music show in Ohio.
The third leg is formed by what Koehl called the “live and local series,” which involves various other musical genres such as hip-hop, oldies rock and the Motown sound.
The fourth leg is the public speaking program. For the public speaking program, Koehl said people visit the Paxton Theatre to speak on various topics, which usually tie into some aspect of the Bainbridge/Paint Valley community.
Koehl said those interesting in supporting the work of the foundation through monetary contributions or, as what he described as “the hard work of putting productions like this one on,” can go online to paxtontheatre.org, can contact them by mail at Paxton Theatre Foundation, P.O. Box 654 Bainbridge, OH 45612 or by phone at 740-634-3333.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571