Live vintage radio broadcasts are making a comeback thanks to several area residents and the Spire Theater.
"Classic Radio," a live theater production, is set for Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Spire Theater of Jamestown. The show will also include a Chinese auction to benefit 15-year-old Aili Makuch, who is fighting kidney disease.
Members of the cast include Shannon Nixon, Miguel and Cathy Covarubias, Josh McCord, Ylsa Giuffre, Adam Hughes, Daniel Pierce, Mike Nichols, Mike Frank and Marly Kester.
Pictured are the Andrews Sisters. From left to right are Shannon Nixon, Ylsa Giuffre and Cathy Covarrubias.
According to Nixon, producer, the concept for "Classic Radio" stemmed from the idea of bringing vintage live radio broadcasts back into the spotlight.
"The name stems from the idea that all shows will be vintage radio episodes with 1940s jazz thrown into the mix," said Nixon. "Eventually, as this grows, I'd like to see a program like this aired on local radio stations so that the audience can participate in the lost art of live radio. The audience is just as important as the cast. Having that laughter provides energy, mutual satisfaction for the performers and audience, and a genuine response that indicates we have true professional entertainment to offer."
The show will feature comedic "Baby Snooks" radio episodes created by the writers of "I Love Lucy," an Andrews Sisters trio and the Southerntier Chord Authority Barbershop Quartet.
"We're going to make patrons feel as if they are in a real NBC radio studio of the 1940s, however, instead of NBC studios it will be SKS studios," said Nixon. "We're pulling two public domain sketches, each running approximately 30 minutes, and formatting it with Andrews Sisters numbers, and an appearance by the Southerntier Chord Authority Barbershop Quartet."
"Classic Radio" is just one of the many productions that Nixon has planned for the "Shannon's Kids Series" project, she said.
"All of the shows will have a certain vintage feel because I seem to be stuck in the 1940s," said Nixon. "There's some sort of glamour associated with dressing up, dining downtown and then heading to the theater to be entertained with the golden era jazz and radio of yesteryear. So we're going to stick to that. It's wholesome entertainment that all ages will enjoy, but will resonate specifically with the older generation. The shows to come will have comical 'Lucyesque' radio sketches and crooning jazz artists emulating Sinatra, Fitzgerald and the likes."
"Shannon's Kids Series" isn't just about producing family-friendly entertainment, added Nixon. She also designed the shows so that the proceeds benefit children undergoing medical treatment.
"I strive to create programs with which individuals can be helped," said Nixon. "There is a certain reward you get from helping charity organizations as well, but that personal level drives me to help them specifically. I remember when I produced my first show for 9-year-old quadruple transplant patient Ryan Samuelson. There was a moment during intermission when Ryan and his kidney donor, a stranger to Ryan before that selfless act, came up on stage and Ryan thanked the man with a warm embrace. That was just the end of it for everyone. The whole audience was applauding in tears. The most beautiful thing to witness is true gratitude, selflessness and sincerely yearning to help others. I want to be a part of that, and I want others to be as well."
The child who will benefit from "Classic Radio" is a 15-year-old who is fighting a rare kidney disease known as Wilms' cancer, said Nixon.
"Aili Makuch has undergone many operations and fortunately is doing quite well. She is vibrantly healthy for having undergone the extreme treatments she has," said Nixon. "She has proven to be inspirational to many by displaying her relentless bright spirits and many people in the area are proud to call Aili their friend. I have not personally had the privilege of meeting Aili yet, but the many wonderful things I hear about her makes me believe she is a courageous, compassionate individual who is wise beyond her years."
Nixon likes to support events such as this because of the charitable aspects and to further improve upon the arts scene of Jamestown, she said.
"One hundred percent of the proceeds are going to cover Aili's medical expenses. That means the more seats we fill the more we raise for her," said Nixon. "It makes for a wonderful night out, and it's a chance to help another person. Secondly, becoming actively involved in the arts scene of Jamestown, including something as simple as buying a ticket and attending, is helping entertainment in our area boom. I've always thought Jamestown could be a little Broadway once more community members involve themselves with the entertainment, and if the artistic entities of the city worked collaboratively and promoted healthy competition. More entertainment is what makes entertainment thrive, not one artistic venue standing alone. Kids such as Aili provide a reason to utilize the arts to bring something uplifting to the community and bring more entertainment."
The Spire, formerly First Congregational Church, is located on Third Street across from the Post Office. Tickets are $10 pre-sale at the Labyrinth Press Co. and Bemus Point United Methodist Church, and are $12 at the door.
For additional information call 708-8879, visit shannonskids.org or search for "Shannon's Kids Series" on Facebook.