Fort Smith Little Theatre celebrates with ‘radio’ show

<br>Fort Smith Little Theatre celebrates with ‘radio’ show

In “An Old Time Radio Christmas II,” Jim Moody’s character is described as a disc jockey hosting a holiday show. But while this show is set in the 1970s — so you’ll hear seasonal songs by the Carpenters sung live, for example — it also comes with live “commercials” complete with “tambourine, bells and whistles,” more like the Jack Benny era, Moody says.

The show is an updated version of the original production “An Old Time Radio Christmas,” staged at Fort Smith Little Theatre in 2017. Now, as it was then, it’s helmed by Jill Moody-Ledbetter.

“This is a Christmas musical variety show that I originally put together about six years ago, ‘An Old Time Radio Christmas,’ and it sold out every night,” she says. “I decided to re-create this show, but in a different decade, and it’s ‘An Old Time Radio Christmas Part II.’ We will be set in the 1970s but take the audience back to some of the original Christmas favorites.”

The stage is set with Jim Moody’s radio station on one side, a family listening to the radio and decorating the tree on the other side, and performers ranging from children to FSLT veterans in the middle. His job, Moody says, is “introducing all the acts, doing bad Christmas jokes and all the other things 1970s DJs would do.”

The commercials, he says, were researched by Moody-Ledbetter and are based on real ones that he calls “just hysterical,” including the Oscar Mayer Wiener Jingle sung by a child and one for pantyhose that makes him wonder what the writers were “trying to get away with.”

Moody has been part of Fort Smith Little Theatre since 1975.

“I’ve probably been involved in 120 productions, everything from sweeping floors to directing to being on stage,” he says. He’s in this particular show because Moody-Ledbetter asked him to be. Moody-Ledbetter was Moody’s student during the 27 years he taught English and drama at Northside High School in Fort Smith.

“Because we had the same last name — her maiden name was Moody — kids always thought she was my daughter, and we just kind of went with it,” he says. “And we’ve maintained that kind of relationship since then. So any time Jill wants me to do anything, I volunteer. Besides, it’s fun. It’s really more like a group of friends getting together to have a sing-along, a musical Christmas together.”

“An Old Time Radio Christmas II,” which marks Moody-Ledbetter’s return to the the theater after a three-year hiatus, is one of FSLT’s bonus shows, an addition to the regular season.

“We have several shows per year that are ‘off-season’ shows, meaning it is not included in the normal season ticket,” Moody-Ledbetter explains. “The off-season productions are $7 at the door with no reservations. We do list the off-season shows in all the programs and advertise for them on the website. In off-season productions, the run of the show is generally three or four performances only.”

“An Old Time Radio Christmas II” performances are scheduled for Dec. 8-10. Show time is 7:30 p.m., and the doors will open at 6:45 p.m.

Moody-Ledbetter extends an invitation to “grab your friends and family and join us for a very special night full of merriment, laughter, and music. Let’s leave the shopping and wrapping behind and head back to the good ol’ days for some old-fashioned Christmas joy!”



‘An Old Time Radio Christmas II’

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8-10

WHERE — Fort Smith Little Theatre, 401 N. Sixth St.

COST — $7, general admission

INFO — or 783-2966

FYI — FSLT has announced its 2023 season, which we’ll preview in these pages soon.

Categories: Theater