Episode 35: Three Hours to Midnight

In our New Years Eve special, the Lipstick Project (CT) team of extraordinary actors perform an Inspector Trompe-Loeil mystery! At the jazz supper club “Nothing But Treble”, the Inspector and Mademoiselle Quossont plan to ring in the New Year with a  when the evening’s plans hit a sour note: MURDER!

Click here to listen to the show!

 

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From left to right Jenny Maso, Lauren Gulliver Travers, Marilyn Olsen, Rachel Schulte, Jandi Hanna, Hilary Webster

 

SHOW NOTES:

The Lipstick Project is an amazing group whose mission is to create and promote artistic opportunities for the women plus community. The artistic director Rachel Schulte founded the group in 2014 and since then they have performed in critically acclaimed and often sold out shows throughout New England, most notably the first officially licensed all-women production of “Cabaret”.

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As luck would have it, Marilyn Olsen, who holds the post as Director of Charitable giving and the Licensing for The Lipstick Project, has been a previous guest on a prior Nutmeg Junction episode and we discussed the possibility of working on a collaborative effort where the Lipstick Project group could perform our New Years Eve episode.  Once the characters (Trompe-Loeil and Quosonnt) were agreed upon as the subjects for the episode, “Three Hours to Midnight” was written and Rachel and Marilyn approved the script and set about casting the show. It should be said our cast wanted to join them and Jandi Hanna was afforded the opportunity to work with them.

The cast came prepared and rehearsal was fun and went fast.

 

Marilyn Olsen took on the role of the indomitable Inspector Trompe-Loeil and Rachel Schulte portrayed Mademoiselle Quosonnt. The characters are really fun to write.

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Marilyn Olsen as Inspector Trompe-Loeil

Quosonnt being one of the most quick-witted characters I’ve penned. Now in the prior Trompe-Loeil story, Quosonnt had a purposely faux-German mixed in with mid-west American accent as part of an ongoing game of “guess the accent” she has with Trompe-Loeil for she is the world’s greatest actor and this keeps Trompe-Loeil’s skills sharp.. In this story, Schulte plays her with a straight British accent which works two-fold, first it gives the “Masterpiece Theater/BBC” quality to the character and secondly it

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Rachel Schulte as Mademoiselle Quosonnt

Jenny Maso has a history with WAPJ as she had her own show so this episode hopefully marks a triumphant return to the airwaves. Maso took on two roles, as Madelyn Torchwynn and Cassandra Wyce and both characters have a lot going on in the dialogue.

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Jenny Maso

Lauren Gulliver Travers also took on two roles, as JB and as “waitstaff one”. The purpose of Wait staff one in the very opening is just to indicate that a new person switched tables, which a clever listener will infer later on, this is an important clue even though one might hear it as just a piece of ambiance on first listen. The character of “JB” is almost “disreputable” but clearly has a point of view and Travers makes the most out of the dichotomy between the on-stage, off stage persona of the character.

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Hilary Webster portrayed two roles as well, that of Jesse Sinclair and that of Detective Brandt, a particular feat as the two parties interact with one another and Sinclair has a heavy emotional content to it.

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Jandi Hanna is one of our Nutmeg Junction Original cast members who was fortunate enough to join the Lipstick Project on this episode for the role of Adelaide Treble, the owner of the establishment. What’s interesting is that Hanna was the first actor to portray Inspector Trompe-loeil in an earlier episode and then in the live show. Hanna thought of it like the character of James Bond or Dr. Who where each actor can bring their own interpretation to the role!

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The episode is a smashing success and we at Nutmeg Junction look forward to more episodes featuring the Lipstick Project! For more information about the Lipstick Project, find them on Facebook at @lipstickprojectct

CREDITS

THREE HOURS TO MIDNIGHT

Was Episode 35 of Nutmeg Junction and was written by J. Timothy Quirk

The episode was recorded at WAPJ Torrington Community Radio.

CAST:

Marilyn Olsen portrayed Inspector Trompe-Loeil

Rachel Schulte portrayed Mademoiselle Quosonnt and Stella Atwood

Jenny Maso portrayed Madelyn Torchwynn and Cassandra Wyce

Lauren Gulliver Travers portrayed JB and Waitstaff One

Hilary Webster portrayed Jessie Sinclair and Detective Brandt

Jandi Hanna portrayed Adelaide Treble

Music and sound effects courtesy of Youtube royalty free music with some incidental music by Robert C. Fullerton (c)2018

 

 

Our History Part One: Preface-The Theater of the Mind

The unfinished basement in our three bedroom house was my personal place of refuge as the middle child of a two older brother and two younger sister household. Rows of bookshelves aligned every wall and a dresser drawer housed the “good” comic books, the classic Avengers. Batman and Spiderman comics owned by Patrick, the oldest of the boys. Granted we spent more than our fair share of time outdoors playing pick-up games of WiffleBall, football or street hockey and occasionally we’d walk up to the elementary school to play a solid game of baseball when we had enough players and could challenge kids from neighboring streets but when the weather brought us in and certainly when my brothers became involved in other activities, I found the basement to be the place where my creative energies flourished. Somewhere lost to the ages are pages of my handwritten tales of the Land of Oz, based on the 14 books by L. Frank Baum more than the movie version. When I wasn’t writing in notebooks, I was drawing my own comic books and comic strips and my parents eventually purchased a professional angled art desk and brought it downstairs, placing it in the center of the “library” section of the basement. After every Christmas or birthday, I brought my new Bristol Board paper and Speedball Super Black ink downstairs and created stories.

In the far end of the basement was an eclectic record collection my parents had gathered over the years before the children were born; there was the High Society album with Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Grace Kelly, there was a Robert Goulet record I never listened to, and, perhaps the most modern item one could find was John Denver’s Greatest Hits. My favorite vinyl treasure by far was Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America Volume One from Capitol Records in 1961. It was a latter day take on old-time-radio programs and included humorous skits, parody songs interspersed with faux commercials for fictional products. Like many works of entertainment, a modern ear might find that some of Freberg’s content does not weather the test of time well but most of it does and at that age I devoured each humorous tale and song with a happy familiarity and appreciation for the form.

At a young age I discovered the classic programs of the golden age of radio that my father enjoyed. I possessed audiotape collections of The Shadow, the Jack Benny program and many miscellaneous programs including Burns and Allen, Fibber McGee and Molly and The Great Gildersleeve. My father sent away for an audio tape collection of The Cinnamon Bear and we listened to that series often around Christmas. With the stories on tape and my imagination I have a very clear picture in my mind of Jack Benny walking down the street at night carrying Ronald Coleman’s Oscar when he’s robbed and asked, ‘Look, bud, I said your money or your life!” and Benny replies, “I’m thinking it over!”

Audio entertainment was always important because it lent itself to the possibility of a personal entertainment experience. Tape players were portable and you could use headphones especially with a “walkman”.  Television and movies were more often than not a communal experience. For the longest time in the house we had one television, a thick tube-based stand alone piece of furniture in the living room. Until the advent of videotapes and Blockbuster stores, except for Saturday morning cartoons, the children did not have the final say as to what would be on that one screen, if anything at all.

On one occasion I had done something that deserved a punishment and was sent to my room and couldn’t watch Happy Days.  I kept the door open and listened to Mork From Ork face “The Fonz” and it was scary for me because it sounded like the intergalactic alien got the better of the coolest human on Earth. If I had watched the episode on the tv set I might have laughed and forgotten about it but I witnessed it instead only in my mind’s eye, and the event left a lasting impression. Such is the power of the theater of the mind. I have other stories like that but I’m sure you get the idea.

I told stories for 7 years in newspapers every day. My my first comic strip appeared in a newspaper, the now defunct Skaneateles Journal, in November 2010 and in February the daily comic strip printed in the Auburn Citizen. I added a few more papers into the mix but stretched myself a little thin because they were different stories in each paper every day.  I enjoyed it and a seven year run is longer than some professionals who were paid more than a few dollars a week if at all for the effort get to enjoy.

By 2017 I had radio experience with Nutmeg Chatter, story writing experience from the comic strips and a little theater experience, mainly staged readings which are enormously similar to audio theater radio. I put out to the world via social media a question on Dec 20th asking if any of my friends

Joseph Timothy Quirk

December 20, 2017 ·

For my theater friends (directors and/or actors) as well as radio friends: If you see the idea of a modern “old time radio” style program ala Jack Benny/Fibber McGee and Molly/Allen’s Alley, etc, could have some public appeal, and/or if you think the structure of A Prairie Home Companion had some merit but you think it could be done better/differently could you please shoot me a FB message. I’d like to have a very informal (but fun) online chat!

 A number of folks liked the post but I spoke to two individuals who actually expressed interest in the idea, Conrad Sienkiewicz and Robert C. Fullerton. So on December 28th, 2017, we met at WAPJ and Nutmeg Junction, the audio theater show was born.

More next week.

First Live Event: 12/2/2018

Dreams become goals when you write them down, chart the course and take the first steps.  On the very first night of recording at WAPJ in January of this year, the team took a few moments around the large table and the vision for the show was outlined with both short term and long term goals. Among the goals for Nutmeg Junction was to perform a live show by the end of the year. We had initially considered doing a large theatrical experience within one of the venerated theaters in the area but as our program evolved we decided to focus our energy exclusively on the burgeoning show and consider a live event for some time in 2019.

 

If one is persistent and focused, the goals do not drop away, they are worked towards with enthusiasm and we found opportunities to do live events in February, April in June of 2019. More on those events later but the key aspect of this idea was that the goal was not eliminated, merely edited so that we could achieve success in that area in the right way.

Let me take you now to early September.  I was sitting at the studio on 40 Water Street preparing for one show or another when I shared a few moments with John Ramsey, General Manager of the station and CT Broadcasting Hall of Fame Member. John wanted to talk to me about recording on behalf of the station an event that was to occur across the street at the Noelke Gallery, an event called SpeakEasy.  Founded and hosted by writer Patricia Martin, this event features Spoken Word “open mic” opportunities for creative expression and is held the first Sunday of every month.  John thought SpeakEasy would make a wonderful radio program if we could record and preserve the poetry shared at the SpeakEasy so long as the participants were willing and it did not impinge upon their creative spirit or foster a self-censorship structure for the speakers.

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As luck would have it, not only was I aware of the event but just prior to that conversation Patricia Martin. who was guest voice actor on OUR show (see Episode 14: Battle of Elsenorift), invited Nutmeg Junction to be the featured guests for the December 2nd SpeakEasy last show of the year.  In most cases the spoken words shared are poetry but not always and Nutmeg Junction after all is spoken word, it is audio theater. Further, some of the performers at SpeakEasy like Jack Sheedy (episode 11: Harriet Holmes and the Search for the Lost Episode Part One) and David Robinson (Professor series as “Bear” in Episodes 17, 22, 23 and 24 plus non-Bear roles in episodes like HP Lovecraft in Episode 28) performed on Nutmeg Junction so this opportunity was an opportunity we eagerly accepted.

The October and November SpeakEasys I attended  and recorded were engaging and lively and we have the recordings now safely archived and ready for editing. SpeakEasy is to take time off in January and February so we expect to use that time to present the SpeakEasy radio show and get the word out about the 2019 SpeakEasy events.

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For our participation in the show I asked team members of the original cast who could make it to the event and some cast members couldn’t attend mainly because they’re involved in other shows or events! But Rich, Kurt, Jandi, Olivia and newcomer Nick  along with Jack and David would be there and so I set about writing a script for Rich, Kurt and Jandi called “Thoughts Before Breakfast”. Then I wrote the script for Lana and Olivia with Nick, Jack and David called “Inspector Trompe-Loeil” but Lana was cast in a Warner Stage production which has rehearsal that night so  Jandi took over the Inspector role.  In the last week I wrote a Space Sentries script that may be the funniest script I’ve written to date. That may bump “Thoughts” depending on time.

Which brings us to today. For December 2nd, we will perform some material live in front of an audience. This was the actual goal in January and when this occurs we will have achieved and exceeded our 2018 goals for the show!

We are excited about this opportunity and brings us to a new level for the show. We will learn from this event and bring those lessons to our first full production which will occur February 16th, 2018 at Trinity Episcopal Church where we intend to have the equivalent of 3 episodes recorded.
Then to celebrate our first full year, in April we will hold a gala anniversary event at the Childrens Theater on Main in Falls Village, Connecticut.

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Finally, although probably not finally, in late June we intend to perform at the Strand Theater in Seymour, Connecticut.

These live events will give all of our actors the opportunity to shine and to receive feedback from a live audience.

As a token to those in attendance, I have created “Junction Cards” which will sort of take the place of a “ticket” and will be collectible and there will be a different card for each live event.

We hope you enjoy Nutmeg Junction: LIVE and if you’re in the area, I hope you are able to attend one of the live performances including, perhaps, the one tonight! Yes, dreams become goals when you write them down, chart the course and take the first steps. They form an even more enjoyable reality when they are shared with like-minded travelers who take the journey together.

Here’s a write up of the show:

https://www.registercitizen.com/entertainment/article/Nutmeg-Junction-to-perform-Sunday-at-13428787.php