Shasta County’s Historical Figures to Come Alive in Benefit Performance

John Welsh as Major Pierson B. Reading. Photo by Jon Lewis.

John Welsh as Major Pierson B. Reading.

Two years ago, a group of actors with a penchant for local history took to the Riverfront Playhouse stage to bring alive the nefarious side of Shasta County’s legacy of gold, bandits, highwayman, horse thieves and murderers. The performance was titled “Bad Boys of Shasta County” and it was so popular an extra show was added.

Many of those performers will return this Sunday at the Cascade Theatre to rekindle the spirits of Shasta County’s more savory figures. “Faces of Shasta County” will be presented at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 and available by calling 243-8877 or visiting Proceeds benefit the Shasta Historical Society and the Riverfront Playhouse Capital Campaign.

John Welsh, a well-traveled actor who is assisting Matt Tate with directing duties, said the show will be divided into two acts. In the first, the county’s historical figures will be introduced, starting with Welsh as Maj. Pierson B. Reading, the “father of Shasta County.”

Bob Koroluck will follow as Chauncey Bush, Redding’s first mayor (and the figure immortalized in bronze next to the Sacramento River Trail in Caldwell Park). Other notable figures include Mae Helene Bacon Boggs (portrayed by Elsie Ritchie) and Judge Richard B. Eaton, who will be portrayed by Bob Christensen.

In the second act, Dan Kupsky will take on the role of longtime jailer George Albro and tell his story before introducing other characters like Kate Camden (played by Kathryn Kirk), the notorious Black Bart (played by Darryll Alvey) and Coffee, an African-American slave who will be portrayed by Fred Magee.

To help them prepare their monologues, each actor was provided with biographical material from the Shasta Historical Society, “but all of us took it further and did some research to flesh out each monologue,” Welsh said.

Because many are familiar with Eaton’s accomplishments in Redding, Welsh said Koroluck’s character will focus on his wartime service when he was stationed in North Africa and Italy.

Bill Siemers was ready to portray Joaquin Miller, the famous “poet of the Sierras,” but he had to withdraw due to illness. John Truitt will step in to read the poet and frontiersman’s words. Truitt also will serve as master of ceremonies.

The performance will include video projections and appropriate music, Welsh said. Patrons are invited to bid on silent auction items before the show and during intermission.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at
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