Live Theater Revisits Audio Theater

A lot of the company has worked, and continues to work, in live theater — though now isn’t as easy. We previously shared a message from the artistic director of the Guthrie Theater in Minnesota about theater’s enduring qualities.

Theaters are continuing to find ways to weather the closures and one way, as detailed on NPR, is to do plays as radio dramas.

The article references Orson Welles’ famous “War of the Worlds” broadcast from 1938, which we commemorated in 2018 with our own live performance of “War of the Worlds,” set in modern day and locally here in the Washington, DC area.

We hope this trend helps keep the lights on for many theaters — and perhaps introduces new listeners to the “Theater of the Mind.”

Julie Bennett, R.I.P.

We were sad to hear the news that versatile voice actor Julie Bennett passed away last week due to complications related to coronavirus. At the age of 88, she had an amazingly large body of work, not coincidentally because she started working around 1950.

While she voiced no end of characters, people might remember her best as Cindy Bear and also as Aunt May, but she not only had different voices, she wore different hats. Later in life, she was both a talent manager and a realtor. As Mark Evanier writes, she was skilled at adopting other identities.

Now we’re off to fire up some old Yogi Bear cartoons…

Don’t Panic! The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is 42!

Many people may remember the books, possibly the 80s TV show, or even the more recent feature film, but as devoted Hitchhiker’s fans will remember, it started on radio.

We certainly remember that over here at Jabberwocky Audio Theater and it definitely was something in our mind last year when we were putting together Nostromo 2: Electric Alien Boogaloo.

Well, this year, the series is 42 years old, which is a special anniversary for Hitchhiker’s — and the BBC is planning to celebrate this week. So if you have a chance to tune in, enjoy!

RIP, Russi Taylor

We were sad to read that Russi Taylor, veteran voice actor, has died at the age of 75. Taylor may be best remember by many of us as the voice of Minnie Mouse. In fact, she was married to the voice of Mickey Mouse for some time until he sadly passed in 2009. By all accounts, Taylor was great to work with. Writer and all-around pop culture historian Mark Evanier has a nice remembrance as well.

Of course, like just about all voice actors, Taylor was more than just the voice of Minnie as this great compilation shows:

Happy Independence Day!

Yes, we know we have many listeners in the Commonwealth countries, so this is likely just another Thursday for you. However, we are “theater” not “theatre” after all… and in any case, just check out the recording studio in the video below. Ah, we’ll have to tackle a musical one of these days…

More War of the Worlds Headed Our Way

We were already excited to see the TV version of War of the Worlds due sometime this year, but we’ve since learned David Tennant aka The Doctor aka Scrooge McDuck will be reading an audio version of War of the Worlds as well. We’re looking forward to both! (And we bet some of you are too).

Of course, if you want a version of War of the Worlds closer to our time and our neck of the woods (the Washington, DC area), you can check out the version we did last year.

Corporate Interest in Podcasting

Over at Vulture, Boris Kachka details some of the latest moves by bigger and bigger business entities to monetize podcasting.

Here at our humble JAT headquarters in Deepest Springfield, we keep on watching these sorts of reports the same way YouTubers and others might look at news of changes to the streaming and on-demand video space.

One thing that’s frustrating is that the default definition of “podcast” seems to be mainly non-fiction shows. Don’t get us wrong, we love and listen to many a non-fiction podcast. But as all this money is entering the podcast realm, we can’t help but hope some of that can include full-cast audio stories… and we’d be more hopeful if fiction podcasts were mentioned with more frequency.

We’re still working on getting support through our Patreon campaign, but we absolutely won’t say no to additional revenue sources or, say, someone other than the BBC doing regular audio drama…

Just putting that out there.

The Sound of French Horns… and the Smell of Gunsmoke!

The Library of Congress is an amazing institution and works hard to preserve just about everything, but even they need to prioritize.

To that end, they have registries of films and other media that they take extra care to preserve. Every year, about 25 works are added to these registries due to their cultural significance.

This year, the National Recording Registry added 25 songs and assorted audio works. Their selection is always eclectic, but two items caught our eye in their recent announcement.

One was a hard-hitting episode from the first year of Gunsmoke called “The Cabin.” Written by John Meston, it involves Marshall Dillon taking refuge in the titular cabin during a blizzard, only to encounter two very bad men. We won’t go into any more detail than that for people who haven’t heard it, but rest assured, this was a great example of how Gunsmoke wasn’t going to be about a fanciful, happy-go-lucky West.

The second selection that caught our eye was the whole album Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America Volume One: The Early Years. If you’ve never heard it, you are in for a treat. As Mark Evanier says, “…it’s either the best history lesson disguised as a comedy album or the best comedy album disguised as a history lesson.”