There was something oddly nostalgic about the revival of The Son of the Musketeers at Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre. It’s supposed to evoke memories of the original for those who saw the 1982 production. The theatre is supposed to resemble a 19th century vaudeville house. Not having seen the original play, I was instead reminded of the great television variety shows of the 1960s and ’70s, especially The Carol Burnett Show.
The late Don MacPherson and his wife Pat opened Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre in 1977. They wrote, directed and starred in many plays over the years. Don created the recurring character Rogi, who appeared in over 14 different productions.
The theatre is now run by the next generation of MacPhersons. Jennifer MacPherson-Evans and her husband Laurence Evans took over when Don and Pat semi-retired. Don passed away in 2010.
This year, Don’s son Chris decided to bring back his dad’s beloved character. Chris plays Rogi in The Son of the Musketeers. His funny facial expressions made me wonder if I ever saw him perform when he worked as a clown with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Jennifer played the Rebel Leader as well as the narrator. The story’s villains are played by Kara Van Veghel as the evil queen and Jeremy Gregoire as her power-hungry lover.
My friend Dave Fennell from Einstein Simplified auditioned for a part at Sweet Fanny Adams during a break in the Gatlinburg Improv Fest last March. He has been playing a character named Spasm in The Son of the Musketeers since May. Spasm is the elderly servant to the clueless king played by Tim Coleman. I especially liked a running joke about Spasm falling into the castle’s moat.
After the play ends, the cast does some musical revue numbers and some audience participation bits. During the unscripted parts, you could see that the cast was trying hard to suppress their own laughter. They were obviously having fun, which made it all the more fun for the audience.
The Smoky Mountains are a great place to relax and have fun. My wife and I took advantage of having an extra day off over the holiday weekend to see some of the local attractions.
The “waterfall” effect has always been a highlight of Boomsday as fireworks cascade down the side of the Henley Street Bridge into the the Tennessee River. For the past few years, there has also been a waterfall of rain.
This year, the event was held on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend instead of Sunday. The weather was sunny and hot when the festival opened at 3:00 p.m. By 4:30, we were getting doused with rain. Across the street from the WNOX booth, a Metro Pulse tent caught a gust of wind, flipped in the air and landed upside down in the middle of Neyland Drive. Fortunately, the people had already scattered and the tent didn’t land on or near anyone. Workers grabbed it and dismantled it. Meanwhile, my coworkers and I lowered the WNOX tent so that the same thing wouldn’t happen to us.
The skies cleared for several hours and the festival resumed. I found time to admire the decorated Metro Pulse newspaper boxes across the street. I recognized the one in front. My friend Cheryl Burchett painted it as her entry in their Paper Box Design Contest.
I had prepared a half-hour music sweep for Star 102.1 that preceded the fireworks. It had to start at exactly 8:30 and run for precisely thirty minutes. I nipped and tucked a few song intro and outros to make it fit. At 8:50 p.m., I could tell that the fireworks crew had jumped six minutes ahead. More rain was on the way and they decided to start the show as soon as possible. The fireworks began at 8:54 instead of 9:00 p.m.
During the show, my coworkers and I rushed to dismantle the WNOX booth and get everything packed in the van before the rain started. I had hoped to stay and watch but decided to start walking to my car. I could see flashes of fireworks behind me and flashes of lightning in the distance ahead of me. I got in the car and started driving home with fireworks visible in my mirror.
As I walked to my car, I saw a lot of people who chose viewing spots where they couldn’t hear the speakers playing the soundtrack. The fireworks are beautifully choreographed to music and I felt bad that those folks were missing out on half of the entertainment value.
As I drove along 11th Street, I saw a lot of people walking toward the fireworks. I wondered if they thought the show was supposed to start at 9:30 as it had in previous years. When I got home, I saw a message on Twitter from someone who also had no idea that the scheduled showtime had been moved to 9:00. I felt bad for them too because the information was heavily promoted on television, radio, newspaper and online.
Lavell is appearing at Side Splitters Comedy Club this weekend. He stopped by WNOX for an interview on the Classic Hits 93.1 Comedy Couch. We talked about Breaking Bad and Robin Williams near the beginning of our conversation but the topic soon turned to our favorite foods.
The Providence High School magazine had some sad news that my wife and I had somehow missed. While reading the In Memoriam section, we learned that our friend Michael Hastings lost his father to cancer. Michael was mayor of Burbank when we moved there in 1992. He and his family were, and still are, very active at Providence and at St. Finbar Church.
Through Michael, we got to know his wife and kids as well as his parents and siblings. His mother Joan was an experienced cantor at St. Finbar and was helpful to my wife as she became a new cantor. Michael’s dad was instantly recognizable to anyone who watched TV in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.
Bob Hastings was on McHale’s Navy, All in the Family and many other shows. In the ’90s, he was the voice of Commissioner Gordon on Batman: The Animated Series. Back in the ’40s and ’50s, Bob played Archie Andrews on radio. Bob died on June 30 at age 89.
— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) July 2, 2014
A fellow named Boogerman made me laugh a long time ago when he sang a funny version of the Lucky Charms jingle at a St. Patrick’s Day KROQ remote broadcast. He wrote to me three years ago to express his appreciation and apologies for some things from those days.
Count Boogie, as he’s now known, wrote to me again this week:
I have a little studio now. You need any jingles for your show with your name etc.? I love doing them. Just let me know. I’m having fun! I just finished my second musical comedy album in 4 months. I’m on fire! Hope you’ve been good.
I wrote back with some details about my afternoon show on WNOX. Before long, Boogie had sent me several jingles to use. Here’s one that I aired almost immediately, dropping it in between a Donna Summer song and a Beatles song:
Sarah Thompson from the Tennessee Valley Fair asked a question to which she surely knew the answer. She wanted to know if I would try a Twinkie stuffed with a Twix candy bar, wrapped in bacon, then deep-fried and drizzled with chocolate-caramel sauce. The concoction, known as a TwinX, is being sold at the New York State Fair. At the time Sarah sent her tweet, I was reading the same article about the newest strange foods on the fair circuit.
— Sarah Thompson (@SarahCT23) August 26, 2014
Sarah has invited me to judge the Fair Food Throwdown for the third consecutive year. I would gladly taste a TwinX if one was entered in the contest.
Another fair food that is making the rounds comes from Jane Harris at The Best Around. This year she’s promoting her new Pineapple Inside-Out Funnel Cake. I do expect to see one of these in the Fair Food Throwdown on September 5.
— Jane H (@ClueHuntress) July 2, 2014