Fools & Fiends & more - Dark Shadows Play

I highly recommend at least some of this audio presentation if you haven't listened to one of Jonathan's reader's theater performances.

NANCY KERSEY: "This was one of the first early performances of "Fridiculousness" which I developed with Jonathan in 1988. He was giving this entertainment at the request of his cousin, Joanie Renison, a member of the Tamarmac Country Club in Hamilton, Canada. The audience was full of family and friends who knew Jonathan from childhood. He gave one of the best readings of "The Tell Tale Heart" I have ever heard in this recording." (Nancy Kersey ~ Not for publication ~ All rights reserved).



AUDIO FILES OF JONATHAN

Nancy Kersey regarding this audio recording of Jonathan practicing his lines (right):

"This audio tape was circulating around fandom as early as the 1980s. It is home audio of Jonathan studying a Dark Shadows script, saying the dialogue of the other characters and then reading Barnabas' lines by very quietly saying them with his lips, thus leaving space between the other characters and his and for him to practice his lines. The rest of the tape has Jonathan doing elocution exercises by reciting tongue twisters and reading some material."

AUDIO FILE: Jonathan preparing for his first presentation of 'Genesis of Evil' in 1984 - Tell Tale Heart, Macbeth

AUDIO FILE: Jonathan practicing his lines


Note from Jana: I enjoyed reading this interesting post I found on Google Groups about production of a Fools & Fiends show. I believe the poster "Darksman9" is Dean Wilson (or Stephen Robinson?). The details of the show, including how many hundreds showed up and waited in line to get in, are quite fascinating. It also gives an idea of how much hard work was put in by those behind the scenes in order to make these appearances happen. (Many thanks to them!)

As the sponsor, I would like to take this opportunity to "thank" everyone who came to the Jonathan Frid show this last weekend in Crawfordsville, Indiana. In addition, I would like to "thank" all of the volunteers as well as the many individuals who contributed financially to the show, but were unable to come. From all estimates, around 350 people came to the show. When the Box Office doors opened at 5:00 pm - we had a huge, long, line of people waiting to get their tickets and also purchase tickets at the door. We had people from all over the midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, etc) in attendance for the show. However, not only was the "midwest" well represented but we had people from all over the country including Oklahoma, Kansas, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and more! It was a "wonderful" turn-out!

In addition to the proceeds from the ticket sales, we also had a "raffle" with some great prizes as well as photos of Jonathan for sale. The proceeds from all of these venues will go to benefit the charities for the show. All in all, from speaking with Jonathan and his producer, the show was a great success! For those unable to attend the show or might have seen "Fools & Fiends" in the past - this version of "Fools & Fiends" included several new pieces as well as his old familiar pieces. Several months ago, I had asked Jonathan to recite a "poem" by an Indiana poet, James Whitcomb Riley, entitled "Little Orphant Annie", (a Victorian spooky child's bed-time story) for the Indiana show. . . .Hearing Jonathan recite the "line" from this piece- 'And the Goblins will Get You if You Don't Watch Out!" was a wonderful Halloween treat for everyone in attendance! Oh, and when Jonathan came out at the beginning of the show, the applause, clapping, and cheers from the audience were deafening! It just kept getting louder and louder! I had never heard anything like that before!

In addition the program consisted of tw parts with Jonathan performing very short pieces to rather in-depth and elaborate pieces. Jonathan peformed Edgar Allen Poe's, "The Cask of Amontillado." to close the end of the first part. Other "spooky and macabre" pieces included - "The Ghost" by Richard Hughes and "The Man Who Loves Flowers" by Stephen King. Jonathan also performed several "foolish" pieces including - "Verses" and a "Poem" by Ogden Nash, "Mr. Preble Gets Rid of his Wife" by James Thurber, and "Running Battle with Warner Brothers" by Groucho Marx. Jonathan finished the show with his signature piece (or as he calls it - his national anthem LOL) - Edgar Allen Poe's, "The Tell Tale Heart." The show was over 2 hours long with a 10 minute intermission. The wide range and variety of pieces is truly a wonderful hallmark of Jonathan's shows.

After the show, Jonathan asked the audience for any "questions" and a good thirty minutes was spent with him discussing highlights from his career. He also spoke about working with Joan Bennett and his Broadway tour of "Arsenic and Old Lace." A three hour autograph line was held. Each attendant was able to not only get a personalized autograph from Jonathan but also a picture taken with him. Jonathan also took time to stop and briefly chat with those who had questions or comments about his show during the autograph line. Everyone in attendance for the Question & Answer and Autograph line was very respectful, courteous, and polite. Special care had been given to develop a quick, but efficient method of getting autograph and pictures taken. I noticed many people laughing and chatting away to help break up the time needed to allow everyone through the autograph line. I was also very fortunate to have a wonderful group of ushers who were crisis counselors from the Montgomery County Family Crisis Shelter. Most of these volunteers were not familiar with Jonathan or even Dark Shadows for that matter, but told me afterwards they really enjoyed speaking with the audience and learning about each individual's memories of Jonathan and Dark Shadows.

Everyone in attendance for the Question & Answer and Autograph line was very respectful, courteous, and polite. Special care had been given to develop a quick, but efficient method of getting autograph and pictures taken. I noticed many people laughing and chatting away to help break up the time needed to allow everyone through the autograph line. I was also very fortunate to have a wonderful group of ushers who were crisis counselors from the Montgomery County Family Crisis Shelter. Most of these volunteers were not familiar with Jonathan or even Dark Shadows for that matter, but told me afterwards they really enjoyed speaking with the audience and learning about each individual's memories of Jonathan and Dark Shadows.

Also, on Friday evening, Jonathan performed a "run-through" of "Fools & Fiends" at a Victorian Bed & Breakfast in Crawfordsville for the volunteers who would be working the Saturday evening show. This home was built in 1845 and the run-through show was held in the huge downstairs living room. The Bed & Breakfast is decorated with Victorian pieces including many original antiques from the original owners of the home from the early 1900's. It was a "wonderful" atmosphere for Jonathan's show and aftewards a delicious meal was held across the street at a very quaint restaurant, The Bungalow", which is also owned by the propietor of the B&B. It was a very "unique" atmosphere to have Jonathan perform his "run-through" in a turn-of-the century Victorian home!

Again, thanks to everyone who came to the show, sent in contributions, or took the time to volunteer their time. Special thanks to Alane Megna and her friend, Dena, Thomas Jenkins and Dennis, Laura Knaapen, Malia Howard, Nina Johnson and her friend, Steve, Angela Pearson, Jason and Mindy Willoughby, Amy Spencer, Suzie Barker, Michael Brooks, Jeff Zurawski, Jeff Strickland, Connie Meek, Marian McMurtrey, and ALL of the staff and volunteers from the Montgomery County Family Crisis Shelter! A Very special "thank you" to Kay Fry who spent many many hours with her fantastic lay-out & design skills designing the program and the tickets!

I would also like to especially "thank", my good friend, Helen Samaras, who ventured all the way to Indiana from NY - and spent the entire weekend working side-by-side with me on getting those last minute preparations done. From carrying in boxes to running the Box Office, Helen was a "God-send". And a very very VERY special thank you to my good friend, Nancy Kersey, who spent countless hours of her time working with me getting this show sponsored and produced. From the endless phone calls, emails, faxes, and every other sort of communication known to mankind LOL - we were able to put this show together all the while being separated from the distance of NY to Indiana! Nancy is a fantastic producer who is great with detail. From setting up the lights, to painting a peformance stool black in the wee' hours of the morning, to sitting for countless hours next to Jonathan in the autograph line, Nancy is a dedicated and hard-working individual. All the "thanks" goes to Nancy who was able to bring Jonathan to the Midwest and help raise money for two very worthwhile charities. Nancy's professionalism and graciousness made this entire project a real "JOY!" for me! If it wasn't for Nancy - this show NEVER would have happened! Thanks, Nancy, You are the BEST!

And last! but certainly NEVER least! A heart-felt "thank you" to the good LORD above, for blessing me with a beautiful, picturesque, unseasonally warm, rain-free, Autumn weekend in Indiana to have this show! =) Dean Wilson 

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