Saturday, March 31, 2012
REPS SHOWCASE . . . You've Heard About It But What's it All About Exactly?
The REPS SHOWCASE is the annual Old Time Radio Convention produced by the Radio Enthusiasts of Puget Sound in the Seattle area each June. This year's convention will be the 20th time REPS has put on such an event. That's right, the 20th time! Can you believe it? In the last year many organizations have shut down their old time radio conventions feeling that the old time radio conventions are a thing of the past and citing declining attendance. Oh sure, twenty years ago it seemed so much easier to find people who loved old time radio. Many more people were certainly around that grew up with radio those few years back. However, there are still many people out there who love old time radio, regardless of their age and believe it or not, they have never heard about REPS, Sperdvac or FOTR or old time radio conventions. We are always meeting these people who have lived in Seattle all of their lives and are just finding out about REPS and they are huge fans of old time radio! How we have not got the message out at least here locally is anyone's guess. I suppose that's our true challenge. We need to find ways to get the information out about the organizations and the old time radio conventions to a larger audience. We're not looking to find thousands of people to come crashing through the gate to attend the convention as if it were Comic Con or Monster Bash. We are not about changing our focus to reach a larger group of people. We are about celebrating those days of Old Time Radio and encouraging the art of modern audio theater. That's where we find that there is a need to fill. REPS is an organization founded to introduce old time radio to a modern audience and to encourage creative people to produce new audio theater. That's the REPS identity and who we are. Sure, every day it's a challenge to find the financing to produce this kind of an event. It's not easy, and being able to continue with another convention the following year is never guaranteed. We do hope that as long as we stay committed and put the kind of effort into it that is required to produce and promote a multi day convention, we can continue to have a successful event. But having a successful event is really up to the fans. If we build it, they must come. It's the fans who have preserved old time radio for so many years and it will be the fans who will be required to keep the conventions going, if they choose to do so.
The REPS Showcase really is a special event. Whether it's meeting the people who appeared in many of our favorite radio shows of yesterday or getting together with other fans who are also attending, it's always a great time to be had. I am sure many radio fans have missed out on attending these events due to price considerations. You can't charge $20.00 for admission for the entire weekend and still invite a dozen or so veteran radio performers from out of town, pay for the facility, the food and a whole gamut of other expenses so obviously the cost for the whole weekend has to be more than $20.00 but let me go on record to say that the life time of memories far exceeds the cost of admission. I had a chance to have dinner with Norman Corwin in 2010 and the same year I sat and talked with Robert Easton (who had an amazing career in Hollywood). Both men have since passed away but these memories will last a life time. I will always treasure the stories that each special guest has told. Hearing Jan Merlin talk about his days on Tom Corbett;
Hal Stone, Bob Hastings and Rosemary Rice telling us about their antics performing when they were teenagers in the lead roles on the Archie Andrews radio show. All great stories.
I also enjoy the many performances that are staged at each convention. Performers love coming to REPS and the creative freedom they have in producing truly fun shows. In the last couple of years Chuck McCann has played Phil Harris in a recreation of the Phil Harris and Alice Faye show as well as performing as Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy in a Chase and Sanborn Hour reenactment. Tommy Cook thrilled us in the title role last year when he performed in a terrifying tale from Lights Out. We have produced thrillers from Suspense, a full production of The Wizard of Oz from The Lux Radio Theater, The Great Gildersleeve (with Shirley Mitchell reprising her original role of Leila Ransom)and many more. The list of shows that have entertained the Showcase crowd the last few years has been too numerous to all list here. We certainly have had a fun time and fans travel from around the country to join the merriment. Barbara Schwarz from Illinois, Joel Klein from New York, quite a few folks from California and more.
Gregg Oppenheimer,Michael Kacey and Tim Knofler have each made the trip up from California to produce and direct shows for the REPS SHOWCASE each year. They have been telling others around the country what a great time they have had going to REPS and they encourage other fans to head on out to the SHOWCASE also. We are really excited that our good friends John and Larry Gassman, hosts of Same Time Same Station will be heading out to Seattle to host a few panels and presentations.
Most of all we are thrilled to spend a weekend with our very special guests:
Terry Moore, worked in radio in the 1940s, most memorably as Bumps Smith on The Smiths of Hollywood. As an adult actress her films included Mighty Joe Young (1949), Come Back, Little Sheba (1952) - for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and Peyton Place (1957). In 1962 she appeared as a rancher's daughter in the NBC Western drama Empire, opposite Richard Egan and Ryan O'Neal.
Tommy Cook was one of the busiest child actors in radio playing, simultaneously, ‘Alexander’ on Blondie, ‘Junior’ on The Life of Riley, and ‘Little Beaver’ on both radio and in the movie serial The Adventures of Red Ryder. Additionally, he made frequent appearances on The Lux Radio Theatre, Arch Oboler’s Plays, and The Mercury Theatre on the Air.
Ben Cooper, who appeared in more than 3,200 radio shows including Fred Allen and a regular role on Mark Trail
Bob Hastings, who played the title role of Archie on the Archie Andrews series on NBC radio for over ten years.
Gloria McMillan began her performing career at age four on KGW radio in Portland, Oregon. Later, her mother Hazel McMillan, Hollywood’s first female talent agent for children, soon had her working with the industry greats including Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Fanny Brice, Agnes Moorhead, and Lionel Barrymore. Her radio program credits include appearances on The Lux Radio Theatre, The Great Gildersleeve, The Jack Benny Program, The Baby Snooks Show,and Meet Corliss Archer. Too, she created and performed in the role of ‘Harriet Conklin’ on the radio and TV versions of Our Miss Brooks.
Stuffy Singer, was one of the original ‘Beverly Hills Beavers’ on Jack Benny’s radio program, and he appeared often in juvenile roles on shows like The Great Gildersleeve, Suspense, The Lux Radio Theatre, Fibber McGee and Molly, Our Miss Brooks, and Amos ‘n’ Andy to name a few.
Beverly Washburn appeared on the Jack Benny radio show as one of the ‘Beverly Hills Beavers’ and went on to tour with Benny. She became television’s first child star and has made over 500 TV appearances in shows including The Jack Benny program, Dragnet, Adventures of Superman, Wagon Train, 77 Sunset Strip, and Star Trek just to name a few.
More guests to be Scheduled . . .
You see, we still have guests who worked in some of the all time great shows. Why would we stop now? It would be great if everyone could come for every minute but you'll have a great time no matter how long you can drop on in for. I'll be hanging around for the entire weekend. John and Larry Gassman have presentations planned spotlighting events in radio history, and interviews with the special guests. John Jensen will have for us part two of Great Comedians in radio. And to top it all off, radio performances with live music, sound effects, vocalists and top notch performances will highlight the convention. Frank Ferrante will appear as the legendary Groucho Marx. I have heard that Saturday night will feature a larger than life radio variety show. More precise details will be available soon.
The Friday night ice cream social was a big hit last year and it returns for 2012. The ice cream social is a fantastic time to mingle with the stars and enjoy ice cream at the same time.
We just never know how long the magic will continue. Don't be someone who looks back with regret because they missed out and never attended. Consider joining us for this grand Salute to the Golden Days of Radio this June in Seattle at REPS SHOWCASE.