This week Nutmeg Junction joined WESU Middletown radio. This is the first station to take on our show on since our premiere episode on 3/31/2018 (on Robin hood radio four affiliated stations WHDD) and 4/1 (WAPJ) and CROC radio.
So this is the show that can be seen a good introduction into our universe. If you haven’t heard our program before, this is a great episode to start with”. We have three stories in this episode: The Grey Whisper (featuring Jandi Hanna), Daring Darling Darly (featuring Caroline Sienkiewicz) and A Case of a Little Light Murder (featuring Lana Peck and Kurt Boucher). These stories have wonderful vocals from Josh Newey, Robert C Fullerton, Conrad Sienkiewicz and Rich Cyr.
Now I had originally considered having The Professor story in this segment but the Professor stories are approximately 15minutes so wouldn’t fit into a three section show. I considered Space Sentries and Tex Bijou but both are shows that benefit from the entire show listening experience.
These stories generally have everyone in our cast in the shows (except for Olivia who began recording with us after these episodes.
“THIS EPISODE IS A GREAT PLACE TO START FOR NEW LISTENERS”
“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 episode was inspired by the classic low budget sci-fi audio programs that attempted to prove their story took place in the future or space by using quasi-futuristic tech sounding terminology.
After the first three episodes that we recorded (which were actually Ep 2-4) a tactical decision was made internally to try to get ahold of our structure and cast a few cast members with each show, so that even though there were 8 regular cast members, a total of four may show up in one episode.
Now immediately after that we recorded Blaze Jackson (the first episode we released but had half the cast). Then we recorded Daring Darling Darly (which we haven’t released yet) and this one, Space Sentries with essentially the other half)
Space Sentries is essentially a “two-hander”, a two person show, with an additional role added in for complication. So this one featured Rich Cyr as Puffle and Kurt Boucher as Commander Alyx. I was asked why I called the character Alyx and the reason was that I did not know when I wrote it whether a male or a female actor would portray the role (both roles were gender neutral for casting).
This point found its way into a news article for the Lakeville Journal! We were pleased to have Shaw Izikson visit our rehearsal and learn about our show.
Our guest vocal actor and VIP guest was actor, author, podcaster, Phil Hall. We discuss his podcast (which can be found HERE) and his books (his 8th coming out about the Patterson-Gimlin tape)
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.
This episode was the second of the first three episodes which we recorded on the same date in January. The recording session was fun but also a learning experience. For one thing it was the first full cast passenger story where everyone fit into the small room of Studio B at WAPJ station in Torrington.
The impetus of the story was to capture the familiar concept of a husband and wife mystery team as exemplified in the William Powell and Myrna Loy era. The characters of Nathaniel and Netta Chase were voiced by Kurt Boucher and Lana Peck who have worked together many times before and have a natural rapport.
Now as it is an approximately 10 minute mini-mystery the fun was in the creation of the sound effects and music to accompany the voices. We were very happy that State Representative Michelle Cook was willing to be a guest on our show and while there, she was asked to voice a role in the mystery which she was very gracious enough to do for us.
Rich Cyr and Jandi Hanna were the Rowlings, and they become an even more formidable team in the next episode (Episode 4: The Grey Whisper).
Josh Newey and Robert C Fullerton provide stand out supporting voices in the piece as Benjamin Marley and the butler, Jennings.
photo by lsgoriginal
photo by lsgoriginal
photo by lsgoriginal
Robert C Fullerton then joined Emily Victoria. Emily Victoria is an extraordinary young talent and both songs “Unafraid” and “Cruel Intentions”
As for the mini-drama on the trolley involving conductor JT thinking he will be the new Lead Conductor, consider that this was written at the same time and in the same voice as the prior episode and the tone was considered from my perspective the way of a Jack Benny show which enjoys some playful banter and teasing of characters.
This was the first episode we actually rehearsed and recorded. In fact we rehearsed the episodes one one night. Then we recorded those three episodes on one night in late January. W e recorded the show out of sequence, recording the musicians first and then different segments of each show which made the editing process a challenge.
Belle of the Fall was amazing. They have just released their second album and they have an album release concert at Infinity Bistro in Norfolk, Ct on 4/22. They performed two songs for us and they were wonderful. The applause was spontaneous and well deserved.
The episode was recorded by Barrie Soucy of WAPJs Miscellaneous Morning Show.
Our first guest star was Rich Cyr, the comedian and author (and soon to be podcaster). Rich has always been an entertaining individual and his creative energies seem to be limitless. I interviewed him for a Nutmeg Chatter post a few years back. Then I had the opportunity with my friend KJ Johansen on our show Black Tie Lunchbox. And further, when I wrote about an Improv group out of (at that time) Derby called Sterling Lion, I discovered he was a part of that group too! So I was well aware of his talents. When he came to the show he offered his vocal abilities to a role in the FOLLOWING episode after that one and we knew he’d be a great fit for our group. He was invited to join us as a Nutmeg Junctioneer. As this was the first episode we ever did and he was a part of it and the subsequent ones, he holds a rare distinction of being our first GUEST and being a founding member of the Nutmeg Junction team.
photo by lsgoriginal
photo by lsgoriginal
photo by lsgoriginal
photo by lsgoriginal
photo by lsgoriginal
photo by lsgoriginal
The idea we had for the passenger story pays homage to game shows of old and of a particular familiar golden age comedian who hosted a very popular game show. I enjoy the dynamic between Lana Peck and Kurt Boucher who act and perform together with the group Glum Puppet. Josh Newey jumped in for the announcer and does a wonderful job.
Caroline Sienkiewicz and our director Conrad Sienkiewicz are passengers who come take the train. Originally we had the idea of recording the song every single time. That was not a particularly effective idea for time and resources so that idea was scrapped.
My “JT (J. Timothy Quirk) character’s interaction with Jandi Hanna’s Lead Conductor Margot was meant to tell a short story within a story. The character of Lead Conductor Margot was created specifically to have a three story arc, to announce a retirement, prepare for it and then retire. As stated in the past episode, we liked Jandi’s character so much, we used the fourth episode written/rehearsed/recorded (Blaze Jackson) as our premiere episode to give that character more time on the air. As for my character I was listening to a lot of Jack Benny episodes before writing the script and I was thinking of an older, sometimes flawed but engaging host of the show. That was the concept. We were learning here in our pilot episodes but I think and hope the audience will see that our learning curve is rather short.
A few days ago I was speaking to John Ramsey, the GM of WAPJ where we record the show. He said over the years there were countless individuals who professed interest in doing an audio-theater program from time to time but those ideas never came to fruition. He recalled that I professed the same interest to him and then weeks later we accomplished it. It’s true that we started the idea at the end of December, our first meeting was 12/28 which is why we call the main trolley the 12-28. We rehearsed our first episodes in January 15th. We recorded at the end of January. We went to air on April 1 on WAPJ (and as it turned out we actually aired on Robin Hood Radio that Saturday 3/31). This was only accomplished because there are so many talented and dedicated people who want to see the idea succeed.
We have recorded 8 stories so far. This is but the second one. As we continue to build the show and grow we add more talented actors to our number who are finding this adventure to be quite entertaining and fun.
Our upcoming stories will include a tongue and cheek mystery at an old mansion with Nathaniel and Netta Chance, an adventure featuring The Grey Whisper who is “a master of disguise, a fighter of crime and a wonderful knitter”, a tale in space called “Space Sentries”, a story with a young adventurer called “Daring Darling Darly” and an intriguing science fiction epic entitled “The Professor” which is the episode written specifically to feature a “passenger story” (read audio-theater) all the way through.
We are all volunteers who are creating a show we hope our listeners will enjoy.
Episode 1: Blaze Jackson was actually the FOURTH episode that was written, rehearsed and recorde d but it became our premiere episode for many reasons. First and foremost, our guest Robert Kwalick was going to be performing in a production of It Shoulda Been You at the Goshen Players (april 13-28) so airing the show first would make his interview very timely. Second, the character of Lead Conductor Margot Mueller was designed specifically to retire in the third episode but we loved how Jandi Hanna brought the character to life and felt as if Margot deserved an episode all her own to establish the role. Jandi’s recurring continuity canon character “Nonna Hanna” makes a brief appearance as well, plus she is in the passenger story (Blaze Jackson) so this is a tour de force show for Jandi Hanna!
The idea of this show is simple. A passenger (Robert Kwalick) has time to kill at Nutmeg Junction station. He visits Baxter’s Bookstore and More and Nonna Hanna’s Junction Café and listens to some music. Robert carries his part very well, he’s likeable and inquisitive and his interaction with the cast is wonderful. Robert also voices the titular role of Blaze Jackson and he gives the role the perfect amount of gravitas and humor.
Josh Newey has two roles which call upon his vocal talent. I love what he did with Baxter, his continuity canon character. Baxter is sort of a know-it-all but he uses his knowledge for good so we can’t fault him. As Dr. Icarus he’s plays him particularly cringe-worthy as befits the character.
Lana Peck portrays Jane Goodwell who properly redirects Newey’s Icarus with knowledge and strength. Conrad Sienkiewicz, the director of the show, plays Captain Ryder and the narrator-the Ryder character has the most action of anyone in the script and just hearing his faux heroic voice for Ryder made me laugh.
Robert C. Fullerton performs the music; two of his songs are featured prominently and sets the table for other performers (and return engagement from Fullerton himself) in future shows. Fullerton wrote the theme song and the incidental music.
The Blaze Jackson concept is a meeting of the world of science fiction and the world of insurance. The human heroes captured by an alien empire is a common sci-fi trope and I thought that they idea of that empire being called “the Underwriters” seemed like a funny concept.
We will undoubtedly return to the SCI-FI realm of Old Time Radio in future episodes of Nutmeg Junction.
The last segment was the interview with Robert Kwalick. We discussed It Shoulda Been You which will be performed in Goshen for three weekends starting 4/13.
Nutmeg Junction is a weekly thirty minute NEW old-time radio program that will begin broadcasting on April 1, 2018 from its home base WAPJ in Torrington, Connecticut at 89.9 and 105.1FM and will be found in podcast form in itunes and on the Nutmeg Junction website. Nutmeg Junction features stories that harkens back to the golden age of radio but also includes music from emerging and established artists and engaging interviews with individuals in public life who have a story to tell. The program takes place in the environment of a trolley that arrives at the fictional “Nutmeg Junction” station. Nutmeg Junction provides a unique and entertaining experience for the radio listener. Episodes may include characters like “Blaze Jackson: Galaxy Insurance Adjuster”, “Tex Bijou: Cinema’s Singing Cowboy”, “The Grey Whisper” and more.
Starting next week we’ll begin sharing more information on this NEW old time radio show!