Christina Allaback mug

Christina “Chryss” Allaback, Ph.D.

Umpqua Community College’s theatre department has taken their art outside for the last time this year with an outdoor radio play of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

Performances began last week, but there are still a chance to see this production. Below, UCC director of theatre Christina Allaback answers a few questions about the performance, actors, a quick recap from last week’s episodes and more.

QUESTION: Will this production follow the classic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy story from the book or movie?

ANSWER: Yes. These are the original radio plays produced by the BBC in 1978. Douglas Adams, who wrote the novel, also wrote these radio scripts.

Q: Do you have a brief synopsis for this play you can share?

A: It follows the story of Arthur Dent, who escaped the demolition of Earth with his friend, Ford Prefect. I don’t want to give too much away. But they have lots of adventures while they try to update the book: The Hitchhiker’s Guild to the Galaxy. Including learning the secret to life, the universe, and everything.

Q: Can you give us a quick breakdown of what the audience will see?

A: This is a theatrical radio play. This is a style of theatre in which actors read the scripts into microphones as if they were actors broadcasting in a radio station. This is a very popular form of theatre and many cities have entire troupes dedicated to radio productions. Eugene has Radio Redux, in which they perform radio plays dressed in 40s costume with microphones and music of the time. This radio play is different, in that it is more contemporary. So I decided to add some costumes and props appropriate to the content, just to make it more theatrical. Each actor plays many parts, and their performance relies on their creativity in creating different voices.

Q: Why did you choose this piece?

A: I wanted to do a live show rather than a virtual show and with COVID-19 numbers up in Douglas County, I felt I should do an outdoor play. So, I am relying on weather and sunlight. Radio plays can be put together in less time than a full production and I wanted something that would get students excited. So I thought: why not do a series of episodes outdoors every week before the weather gets bad and the sun sets early. And this series came to mind.

Q: What is the difference between a regular play and a radio play?

A: Actors are stationary and performing with a script. There can also be limited set and costume. However, some radio play troupes do have big sets that look like radio stations and live music with actors wearing 40s clothing.

Q: Is this similar to other plays you have done?

A: When I first got here in 2019, I did The War of the Worlds, the Orson Welles adaptation. We performed it on Halloween and had 40s costumes in homage to the original broadcast. We revived it last fall in a virtual production, and it worked out quite well!

Q: How many actors are involved?

A: Five actors will be playing every part in this play. We also have a sound designer/tech, a stagehand, and a costumer.

Q: Are they all UCC theater students?

A: Two of the five actors are UCC students. The sound tech, stagehand, and costumer are all UCC students.

Q: Can you tell us a little about each actor and the role they play?


• Tyler Burdett: A UCC student who plays Arthur Dent, Marvin, and other voicesAnjelica Badillo: A community member who plays Ford Prefect and other voices

• Andrew Laniohan: A community member who plays the Narrator, The Book, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and other voices

• Nakaela Hunt: A UCC student who plays Trillian and other voices

• Epiffany Gombart: A community member who plays many, many, many voices.

Q: Tell us about how you broke up the play amongst the three weeks it will run.

A: The radio show has several episodes. I thought it would be fun to do a series of episodes. So if you came every week, you’d get the whole story. We are doing the first season of the radio broadcast: five episodes plus the pilot. Each one is only a half an hour long, so an hour each week. You don’t get too cold if the weather isn’t warm and it’s done before the sunset.

Last week we performed episodes one and two, this week will be episodes three and four, and the following week will be episodes five and six.

Q: The play began last week. What should the audience know so they are caught up for this week’s performances?

A: They should know that the Earth was demolished last week and that Arthur and Ford were picked up by Zaphod Beeblebrox and Trillian in a spaceship Zaphod stole. There will be a recap at the beginning of the episode.

Q: When, where and how much is it to watch this radio play?

A: Umpqua Community College’s Swanson Amphitheater, 4 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for the next two weeks

Episodes three and four: Oct 15-17

Episode five and six: Oct 22-24

This will happen rain or shine and if it rains, we will make adjustments so the audience will be under the canopy.

Admission is free, but if you feel like making a donation, we will have a donation basket at the performance.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: There are some chairs, but you are welcome to bring your own and sit in the grass. You are welcome to bring a picnic!

Erica Welch is the special sections editor for The News-Review. She can be reached at or 541-957-4218.

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Community Reporter

Erica Welch is the special sections editor for The News-Review, mother of two and a native of Roseburg. She is an alumni of RHS, UCC and Western Oregon University. Contact her at or 541-957-4218.

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(1) comment


Too cool! Wish I could get away from farm long enough.


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