Stephen F. Austin State University

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Red River Radio to broadcast SFA School of Theatre's Christmas play

December 12, 2012 - Robbie Goodrich
NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS - "The Gift of the Magi," the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Theatre's first radio play, will once again be broadcast on Red River Radio, the region's NPR affiliate (locally KLDN 88.9 FM), at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19. The program had its regional premiere on Red River Radio last Christmas.

The half-hour adaptation of O. Henry's classic seasonal story of the same title was dramatized by Broadway veteran Jack Heifner, SFA's resident playwright, and directed by SFA Senior Lecturer Jackie Rosenfeld.

Heifner opens his play in an early 20th century pub where an author named William Sydney Porter (O. Henry's real name) is heard worrying about a deadline for a Christmas story due to a New York magazine. An affectionate pair of youthful pub-goers inspires Porter to write what would become his best-known work - the story of a struggling young wife and husband who make extraordinary sacrifices to buy one another gifts, explained Scott Shattuck, director of the SFA School of Theatre.

"The presents prove so ironic that the twist ending has become one of the most famous in the history of the short story form," Shattuck said.

The production was recorded last year in the School of Theatre's newly renovated, state-of-the-art sound laboratory. It features sound effects by CC Conn, SFA assistant professor who specializes in theatrical sound and lighting design. Adjunct faculty member David Raine plays Pete the Bartender.

The other characters are voiced by SFA students. Commerce senior Benn May plays Porter, and Richmond sophomore Katy Rutherford portrays both the young woman in the pub and the young wife. Mesquite senior John Lisi plays her husband and the young man in the pub.

"Adding radio drama to our repertoire has allowed us to reach a large, new audience," Shattuck said. "It has also given a new dimension to the learning experiences available to our theatre students.

"The fact that we were able to commission a writer of the talent and stature of Jack Heifner to pen this pilot effort has resulted in an extraordinary holiday treat," Shattuck continued, "and we couldn't be more thrilled that Red River Radio has added it to their schedule so that our entire region can enjoy the story again this Christmas season."

The program is also available as a podcast at www.theatre.sfasu.edu through Sunday, Jan. 13.