The Crosley Radio Players return Sunday to the new dinner theater at the Tuscany Restaurant in Paris, Ill. The restaurant will be offering a complete buffet dinner with drink and dessert, plus the Crosley Radio Players’ 75-minute show, for $17.
The Crosley Radio Players will be featuring episodes of “The Shadow,” “Your Hit Parade” and “Fibber McGee and Molly.” Many of the sound effects used will be generated live, just as they were when the shows were on radio.
“The Shadow,” a crime-fighting drama, began as the narrator of CBS’s Detective Story Hour in 1930. With the formation of the new Mutual Broadcasting Network in 1937, the program moved to Sunday nights with a 22-year-old Orson Welles voicing the lead role. The Shadow’s companion, Margo Lane, was portrayed by Agnes Moorehead, who later became TV’s Endorra the witch on “Bewitched.” When needed, the Shadow used his “hypnotic ability to cloud men’s minds” so that they could not see him. The show ran uninterrupted on Mutual for the next 17 years, leaving the airwaves on Dec. 26, 1954.
The long-running musical show, “Your Hit Parade,” debuted April 20, 1935, on NBC and bounced between NBC and CBS until after World War II. Dozens of singers and band leaders appeared on the show, including Frank Sinatra and Doris Day. But the bulk of the singing was done by the “regular” cast of the show, as the producers wanted to highlight the songs instead of the singers. For the entire radio run, the show had only one sponsor: Lucky Strike Cigarettes. The radio version lasted until Jan. 16, 1953.
Beginning a 24-year radio run just four days before “Your Hit Parade,” Peoria, Ill., natives Jim and Marian Jordan became one of America’s most beloved comedy couples in “Fibber McGee and Molly.” Many reoccurring gags and characters heard in the 1,611 episodes kept the nation howling with laughter through two wars and a depression. Terre Haute native Bill Thompson voiced no fewer than four different characters’ voices. For many years, Johnson’s Wax was the show’s sole sponsor. Pitchman Harlow Wilcox wove a Johnson’s commercial into the fabric of the show so as to not disrupt the timing and continuity of the program.
Buffet service begins at 5 p.m. CDT with the Crosley show about an hour later. Reservations for the program are strongly suggested, as seating is limited. Tickets may be purchased in advance at Tuscany or by calling 217-466-1610.
The restaurant is at 1218 N. Main St. (Illinois 1) in Paris.