When You Coming Back, Red Ryder?

Times Herald Newspapers/August, 1999

Looking for a little excitement to spice up your night life? Then spend two hours in a greasy-spoon restaurant at Henry Ford Community College.

The restaurant is the set for the HFCC’s Theatre Arts Department’s 1999 summer production, “When You Comin Back Red Ryder?” The show opened August 12 and runs until August 22. Directed by George Poppvich, ‘Ryder’ tells the story of a troubled drifter who psychologically and physically attacks the patrons at the diner in New Mexico Desert. It was written in 1973 by Tony Award Winning author Mark Medoff (“Children of a Lesser God”) and was his first professionally produced play.

‘Ryder’ has been produced in several different languages around the world. In 1979 it was made into a film in starring Pat Hingle, Candy Clark and Marjoe Gortner. The titlle role refers to a comic and film figure of the 30’s and and 40’s. Red Ryder was a cowboy hero and his sidekick, an Indian, was named Little Beaver. Ryder was known for the strength of his convictions and the directness of his actions.

HFCC’s production is not an updated version, Popovich said. The period. as stated by the author, is the end of the sixties. The choice of the period is apt because of the representation of the loss of innocence. The main character Teddy; hero, villain or tragic hero, may give the first impression that he is a deplorable person. As we learn more about him we see that he has a deep insight about the people he meets, much deeper than they have about themselves. Teddy, clinging to the days of innocence is driven by his inner demons to strip away the innocence of those around him and make them confront the shallow lives they’re leading.

Popovich said he chose the play because it was challenging for his student actors.

“There is more than a fair amount of stage combat and there is an extended variety of character type” Popovich said. “It’s language is strongly modern and holds up well. Although the play is 25 years-old, it’s reminiscent of the dialog in such films as ‘Pulp Fiction’ ‘Payback’ and ‘Jackie Brown.”’

Popovich added that elements of ‘Ryder’ have been seen in movies such as ‘Kalifornia’ ‘Natural Born Killers’ and ‘Badlands’.

“We intend to produce a tight , powerful, heavy-hitting show,” Popovich said. “If you enjoy intense, engaging drama, you will not be dissapointed.”

The eight member cast includes William Spicher as Stephen, Joanne Robertson as Angel, Michael Overbay as Lyle,Corey Stephenson as Clarisse, James Piche as Richard, Tim Jacobs as Teddy, and Nicole Laginess as Cheryl.

Because of the adult content of the production, no one under the age of 18 will be admitted into the performances. Seating is also limited to 100 people at each performance. The seats are placed on the stage, putting audience members four feet from the action.

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