REPS’ GREAT REP

Each year at this time I make ready to travel to Seattle, or more specifically, Bellevue, Washington, to celebrate the golden age of radio with the members of the Radio Enthusiasts of Puget Sound (REPS) as they hold their twentieth annual Showcase. This wonderful tribute to OTR, or Old Time Radio, provides me the opportunity to watch, act in, and direct recreations of those great shows from the past. I’m telling you, the thrill of seeing and meeting many of the performers from those actual days of network radio is quite gratifying for a long-time OTR lover like me. Plus, their reputation as a intimate and friendly gathering is well-known.

I first attended the REPS Showcase in June 2010 bringing along with me the legendary radio writer-director-producer Norman Corwin (then 100 years old). I interviewed him before an appreciative audience and then directed my first radio recreation: “Untitled” by Norman Corwin. It was such a blast. Along with local talent such as Larry Albert and Kate McKnight, I was directing network radio veterans such as Leonard Smith (Our Miss Brooks), Dave Parker (The Lone Ranger), Rosemary Rice (Archie Andrews, CBS Radio Mystery Theater), Bob Hudson (Little Orphan Annie), Gloria McMillan (Our Miss Brooks) and Stuffy Singer (The Jack Benny Program). I was even asked to read the Announcer role for “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” directed by Rosemary Rice. I was in a cast that included Bob Hastings (X Minus One, Archie Andrews) and Dick Beals (The Lone Ranger). For an OTR geek like me this was way-cool!

I was asked back in 2011 to direct a couple of shows of my choosing. I went with an episode of the horror classic series by Arch Oboler: “Lights Out” that starred Tommy Cook, who worked with Arch Oboler as a child actor. I also directed an episode of the science fiction anthology series “X Minus One,” which also starred Tommy Cook along with Gloria McMillan, Ivan Cury (Bobby Benson) and Beverly Washburn (Old Yeller, Star Trek). I must have done something right, because they’ve asked me back again!

This year I will be directing a episode from the series “Night Beat” about a newspaper reporter who finds his human interest stories in the dead of night, and, as a tribute to the late Norman Corwin, I will be directing one of his radio plays titled “Descent of the Gods,” which relates the tale of the time Venus, and then Mars and Apollo each decided to visit Earth to check on the state of modern man. Corwin’s humor-filled script also contains some very pointed observations that linger a while after the show is finished.

So that means that I have to prepare the scripts, create a music and sound effects list for each, decide what will be live and what will be recorded sound and music, and work with the fine staff at REPS to get a wonderful cast of actors together for a quick rehearsal and tech (all in one) on the same day as the show and then perform it before a live audience. Trust me, it’s time-consuming and a bit nerve racking. Although these radio recreations are performed for a friendly audience of Old Time Radio lovers, we all want to do a top-level performance worthy of a real coast-to-coast broadcast. As much as we have fun and celebrate these radio shows, we also take seriously our effort to honor what they created and give it all our talents and energy. When it all comes together, I revel in the response of the audience and smile when I see that magical glint in the eyes of the performers who know they just hit one out of the park.

The REPS Showcase takes place at the Bellevue Coast Hotel, June 22-24, 2012. The website is www.repsshowcase.com. Among those attending this year are Tommy Cook, Bob Hastings, Don Hastings, Bob Hudson, Terry Moore, Chuck McCann, Gloria McMillian, Stuffy Singer, and Beverly Washburn. Plus, I get to join in the merriment with the extraordinary directors for REPS: Gregg Oppenheimer and Tim Knofler.

Feel free to join us, won’t you?
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