This was a fun episode as we return to the idea of serendipitous moments in history otherwise known as “Serendip-History”. Our guest was Nancy Sasso Janis, the theater reviewer. As an interesting side note, when Conrad Sienkiewicz, Robert C. Fullerton and I met at WAPJ and sat at the table discussing the ideas for Nutmeg Junction the radio show, Nancy arrived at the tail end of that discussion as she and I had scheduled a Nutmeg CHATTER radio interview and she was early. So she got to witness the birth of the Nutmeg Junction radio show when it happened.
And I knew from our interview that Nancy had acted before but most of her time was spent reviewing and with such a schedule it would be difficult for her to take on a full production of a show but our show was different, needing a rehearsal and a recording time and they’re usually during off times (as often our cast are parts of other local productions! So I asked if she was interested in participating and she was and I had the perfect role for her: Harriet Beecher Stowe!
In addition I had the idea of a public relations person trying to sell Louisa May Alcott on a sequel to Little Women. I reached out to my friend, comedienne KJ Johansen who was my co-host on a prior radio program to see if she was interested in being the PR person and she was!
Olivia Wadsworth and Jandi Hanna were slated to be part of the show as Ava and Evelyn and I knew Olivia could portray Louisa May Alcott and Jandi’s character in Serendip-History is the narrator. This left only Samuel Clemens. Fortunately we have a Southern gentleman of distinction in our cast; Robert C. Fullerton!
Conrad Sienkiewicz directed and it was great that he had some “book end” narration which held the story together.
This was an episode that we rehearsed and recorded on the same day which, when we only have one episode to record, works out fairly well.
The story of Louisa May Alcott and Virginia Wyles worked as I already had the punchline in my head before I wrote it.
The Harriet Beecher Stowe and Samuel Clemens story was based on a recollection of a tour I had either at the Twain Center or at the Stowe center. I couldn’t find any reference to it online, but I recall hearing of a time Clemens met Stowe on the grounds and discussed something and then later sent up his suit. It’s a particularly peculiar idea that I do not know if it’s true or if my memory is flawed but I thought it was a story worth fictionalizing. The dialogue however are often quotes attributed to both authors at different times and contexts.
Episode 12: Serendip-History Part Two
Written and created and produced by J. Timothy Quirk (c) 2018
Directed by Conrad Sienkiewicz
Olivia Wadsworth as Ava/Louisa May Alcott
Jandi Hanna as Evelyn/Alice Dare Crook
KJ Johansen as Virginia Wyles/Waitstaff
Nancy Sasso Janis as Harriet Beecher Stowe and herself
Robert C. Fullerton as Samuel Clemens
Conrad Sienkiewicz as Announcer
Nutmeg Junction Theme written and performed by Robert C. Fullerton and used with permission.
All other music and sounds from youtube royalty free music or otherwise found in the field by J. Timothy Quirk
As it was mentioned in Episode 5, we had worked on three chapters of the Professor A: Adjunct Professor to the Multi-verse saga and of course we had the intention to do more. But I found when I edited the show that it sounded best with the chapters at approximately 15 minutes in length (at least for the first two) so we had an extra chapter recorded but not shared with our audience yet.
Secondly, when Olivia Wadsworth came on board I had pitched to her the idea for HER character to be Harriet Holmes. It’s always been my intention for each actor to have a signature role. Some actors may have more than one but I’d like each actor to have episodes where their character is the star. Anyway at the time I envisioned a London tale of Harriet being an actual sibling to Sherlock but found that the tv show SHERLOCK had already put out a story where there was a sister character for Sherlock and it would have seemed too derivative if I tried that too, no matter how I played it.
But as it turned out I also wanted to do a tough as nails Detective character. I have many uses for that character and certainly hard boiled detectives are so ubiquitous in Old Time Radio I’ll have many detectives on the show voiced by many different actors.
Ok, and here’s the thing. I wrote the detective story, finding the lost episode of Nutmeg Junction with a detective without a name. I wasn’t sure what we would call her.
I wrote the opening soliloquy the night before recording and posted it on facebook. This helped Olivia work on and find the voice for the recording session. I finished the story the following day, which was the day of recording, with the final pass completed 15 minutes before i left for the radio station. It’s a tight script that flows very well and there’s very little (if anything at all) I’d change about it.
I cast Jack Sheedy in the role of Lenny Snitchwell. Jack is a writer, an author and editor of a newspaper (Catholic Transcript), and the idea of an “English Major” is a call back to another show that for many years carried the torch of Old Time Radio. Jandi reprises her role of Nonna Hanna.
While we were at the table read, we discussed the fact that the detective didn’t have a name. I believe it was either Jandi or Olivia who brought up the idea of Harriet Holmes. i can not take credit for that at all. But the name fit perfectly and I asked Olivia if she wanted the detective character to be called that. She did.
So that’s how we have Harriet Holmes as a “modern” private eye, not beholden to any Sherlock but understood on her own terms.
Jack did a remarkable job as “Lenny”. He knew the character instantly and gave the right flourish.
The Professor Episode was a lot of fun. This one felt had a lot of comedy thanks to all of the actors in the cast. Everyone has a good line or two including Josh and Jandi as the two humans: Freddie and Alice (which they performed in a cockney accent).
There is only one slight editing mistake I missed in this portion of the show but I will fix it in future editions of the show.
Listeners can expect MORE of Harriet Holmes (she will undoubtedly return in Search for the lost episode part two, and more of the Professor. I plan to have scripts written and recorded this month.
This story features the vocal talent of Olivia Wadsworth and David Macharelli who portray two strangers who meet on the trolley and together they find they share much more than a destination.
Within the program are two stories featuring the incomparable Josh Newey as Washington Irving, who gifts to the listening audience the best performance of a fictional Washington Irving ever produced on radio.
David Macharelli’s ad-lib as Charles Dickens to Newey’s Washington Irving, “You put the Ass in Amb-ASS-adore” was enormously popular in the recording studio but we opted not to have that in the broadcast of the show. Perhaps a later version may include it!
Directed by Conrad Sienkiewicz, this episode was rehearsed once at Trinity Episcopal Church and then again before recording the episode.
Rich Cyr was at the rehearsal but could not be at studio on the recording date so we recorded his work separately a day earlier. As a production note, Cyr had studied how Edgar Allan Poe probably sounded with research via youtube videos but during the rehearsal was informed that the author had written the role with Cyr’s own voice in mind.
Quirk performed Cyr’s role during the main recording session and reversed the process when recording Cyr alone, then edited the two recordings together.
Jandi Hanna took on dual roles as the prim and proper Alice Dare-Crook (there was discussion on the name of this narrator character. I considered a George Plympton reference but we settled with an Alistair Cooke one.
There are too many references to count for the Dickens/Irving interaction. yes, Washington Irving had a brother Ebenezer who had a shop that burned. i can’t help but think that Bracebridge hall actually did have an inspiration for Dickens for the Christmas Carol. Barnaby Rudge was a work that wasn’t exactly a barn burner for Dickens. References to Great Expectations, Hard Times, Bleak House, etc are all in there as well as many references involving Christmas Carol.
For the Poe story, the idea of “Helen” at Sunnyside came from the idea of wanting Poe to get the idea of Lenore for The Raven but didn’t want it obvious at the beginning. Researching Irving just a little i did find a relative named Helen who may have lived in western part of New York so I justified it that way. The idea of being hard of hearing so someone can hear the LEN sound more than the HE” in Helen sound worked for me.
Fans of Poe will recognize all the references from “The philosophy of Furniture”, “Three Sundays in a Week”, obviously the Murders in the Rue Morgue (and if you haven’t read it, there’s an additional pun in how we referenced it.
Poe actually did write to Washington Irving who responded in writing.
I see no evidence they actually met in person but Poe was a mysterious figure and he didn’t live so far away that such a trip would be out of the question so I like the fable aspect of this meeting.
A “star” of this program is the music by Robert C. Fullerton. He recorded the song twice, once with vocals and instrument and once just instrumental. Then I used the instrumental underneath the two characters (Kristen and Steve) as a musical emphasis which I think was a rather special aspect of this program.
SERENDIP-HISTORY WRITTEN BY J. TIMOTHY QUIRK (C) 2018
OLIVIA WADSWORTH AS KRISTEN
DAVID MACHARELLI AS STEVE AND CHARLES DICKENS
JOSH NEWEY AS WASHINGTON IRVING
JANDI HANNA AS ALICE DARE-CROOK AND HELEN
RICH CYR AS EDGAR ALLAN POE
J. TIMOTHY QUIRK AS CONDUCTOR JT
ROBERT C. FULLERTON AS HIMSELF
THE NUTMEG JUNCTION THEME (C) 2018 ROBERT C. FULLERTON
MR. JT (C) 2018 ROBERT C. FULLERTON
SERENDIPITY (C) 2018 ROBERT C. FULLERTON
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED TO THE ARTIST AND MUSIC PERFORMED BY ROBERT C FULLERTON AND USED ON THIS PROGRAM WITH PERMISSION
THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION. THE PROGRAM DOES NOT PURPORT TO PRESENT ACTUAL EVENTS.
“Tex Bijou: Cinema’s Singing Cowboy ™” was one of the original character creations that the came straight from the idea of doing a new “golden age of radio” style program in the first place. Westerns have a long and storied history in entertainment in all forms (novels, comic books, radio, tv and film) and the “singing cowboy” idea was a special form of that sort of hero. The two singing cowboys I always enjoyed were Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. Oh, the “tm” portion pf Tex Bijou: Cinema’s Singing Cowboy ™ is part of the joke of the character and show, we’re not trying to be precious here!
Robert C. Fullerton, a founding cast member of Nutmeg Junction, is not only a voice actor but is our primary musician on the show. He created the Nutmeg Junction theme, the Mr. JT theme and numerous other songs already on the show. So I thought it would be fun for his primary character to portray “Tex Bijou: Cinema’s Singing Cowboy (TM)” and the wanted Tex to be a surprising creation as the story unfolded. I wrote the Mise En Scene lyrics and he put those lyrics to music and improvised the theme to Tex Bijou. I added my whistling to that number!
As Sheriff and Deputy, the team of Kurt Boucher and Jandi Hanna was a joyous discovery and their characters eventual contempt of the Hollywood status of the main character grows funnier with every listen.
Jess and Jesse are the PAs portrayed by Olivia Wadsworth and Josh Newey. They have to carry the show’s premise and I enjoy how they succeeded in that task. Both Josh and Olivia brought nuances to the roles that improved the words on the page. For instance every time the Deputy wishes to chastise the PAs, Josh Newey’s Jesse always redirects back to the Sheriff. As memory serves that was not an intentional aspect of the script but Josh brought it to life and it works very well.
This episode was Olivia’s first real foray into our world of audio theater (she did play a minor role in the Professor episode with two lines but this was the first script that really showcased her talent). Her portrayal of Jess as an efficient PA who provides the list of options for the star of the show is a lot of fun!
And what can I say about Joel Benson! Joel had a few lines (just like Olivia had a few lines her first time out with us) but he sold every one of them! What makes this character work is how completely opposite his voice is to Tex Bijou’s (and Joel plays his stunt double. With Joel’s sense of humor, we’re lucky we have him in a subsequent episode (The Grey Whisper Returns) and we’ll have him come back for more! Joel has a radio show on WAPJ called “Unhinged” which airs Thursdays noon to 2pm.
This was an exciting episode and it’s a wonder as it was only the 7th episode that we worked on but it’s very complex and the editing was challenging and ultimately thoroughly rewarding. The end result is a program that took our show to the next level. We released this one as episode as Episode 5 because the lead actor, Lana Peck, has a starring role in Young Frankenstein at Theatreworks New Milford so we wanted to time the release of the show to coincide with that auspicious occasion.
Our episode has a VIP vocal actor Tiffy McKay, who is a children’s book author. McKay’s enthusiasm and professionalism performing as “Ms. Gentry” (and as the passenger who discovers the Prof. A book) ensured her a permanent recurring role in the Prof A stories.
This is the first episode where we do not have a musical guest or VIP interview and went straight for audio theater for the entire episode.
The theme music was created by Lana Peck and it has a wonderful sound effect I used throughout the episode when the Vortex is created. In fact we actually rehearsed and recorded three “chapters” of the Prof A “book” but when music and sound effects were added along with “pregnant pauses” as best befits the storyline, we found only two of the “chapters” fit in the half hour story. Therefore we know we’ll be enjoying more adventures of Prof A, Robere and Ms. Gentry in the future!
Professor A pays homage to the time-traveling parallel world hopping adventures of… well, adventurers who do that sort of thing and certainly the accents used by all the performers identify the region of the world where some of the most prominent characters of that genre were created.
The show was directed by Conrad Sienkiewicz during the rehearsal but I took on “associate director” role during the recording and it demonstrated how much we value having a director separate from a sound engineer.
We had a guest during rehearsal, actor Olivia Wadsworth, who was to be our invited guest for the late April and May episodes. She added her voice along with Rich Cyr and Jandi to the “students” who run away at the beginning of the first chapter. Rich Cyr couldn’t be at the rehearsal but he was there for the recording and he took the photos of the recording that I’ve posted throughout these show notes.
Regarding the Writing:
I wrote the characters Prof A and Robere specifically for Lana and Kurt Boucher respectively. When the script was submitted to Tiffy, Lana and Kurt, I believe all of them individually asked if the roles could be performed in a particular accent and I knew Josh Newey (who portrays Chessman) could do one.
The first “chapter” I wrote as a stand alone and sent it to all of the actors and Director Conrad Sienkiewicz. The challenge there was to create an entire world point of view, the relevant characters and a story with a beginning, middle and end all in about twelve pages which I accomplished. When there was universal acceptance of that script, I took to writing a second and then a third chapter.
Jandi Hanna and Josh Newey (not as Chessman but as a different character) have a marvelous turn in the third chapter of this story which we found will have to be shared when Professor A RETURNS!
For the character of “Chessman” the ultimate idea was to depict a protege of the main time-traveling heroic figure who had gone down what most would consider the wrong road but had his own point of view with a reason for doing the things he does. The backstory for this character was about as dark as I’ve gone thus far in writing. We’ll definitely see more of this character.
For the second “chapter”, note that as with anything, every idea’s already been done at least once. As it so turns out there is a Sci Fi show of a popular franchise which featured a “tardigrade” so it’s somewhat similar to using the “mite” I used for a Demodex Rex in a way but I had not seen the episode (I didn’t spring for the “all access” kind of platform that cost $ so I never saw it) and I wasn’t using the mite in the same way at all and ultimately my story boiled down to just the idea of evolution growing a large mite and the protagonist wanting the eggs of this creature to offer as a trade (which occurs in a third chapter of my story). Interestingly, the tardigrade from that franchise Sci-Fi show was argued as a controversy because of similarities between their use of that idea and a different “gamer” story-line? So my use of having a Demodex (Rex) wasn’t inspired by either item and I doubt anyone who listens to the story would believe it either.
Bearing in mind our radio program pays homage to concepts of Old Time Radio but none of the ideas or stories or characters are copies of any specific character and at best any similarity between any particular character would be a parody.
I relied extensively on the cinematic music found in youtube royalty free music and sound effects found myself and by Tiffy McKay.
I edited a rough draft of the first Chapter (The Fair Trade) and sent it to the group. I received valuable feedback from Lana and Tiffy and reworked some of the music and sound and Josh came in for a second read so I could get the volume more precise.
The second chapter I didn’t have the luxury of time to send out for feedback etc so this portion may or may not require some tweaking at some point but the ultimate idea of this one was fun.