Dinner, Dancing, and Remembering the Titanic

You are cordially invited…

On Saturday, April 9th, 2016, I’m pleased to announce I will be participating in a very swanky and unique event. Midwest-located lovers of history and/or the 1997 James Cameron blockbuster film will be pleased to discover that there is a special re-enactment dinner taking place at the Al Ringling Mansion in Baraboo, WI.


With a greeting from Captain Edward Smith and his officers, and a bugle call to dinner, guests will be whisked away on a romantic and poignant journey to the final dinner in First Class aboard the Titanic the night of the sinking – April 14th, 1912. Upon arrival, guests will be given a card describing which passenger they are representing for the evening – and they can choose to interact as that person or simply observe and be themselves. An exquisite eight-course Edwardian meal will be served much in the way it would have been served on the ship, and a live string quartet will play music the guests might dance to. A cast of professional actors (hey, that’s us!) will be portraying a wide spectrum of high society from the Titanic’s First Class passenger roster, including J.J. Astor and his young bride Madeleine, the “Unsinkable” Margaret Brown, Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon and his infamous fashion designer wife, Lady Lucy Duff-Gordon, and more. There will also be Captain Smith and some of the finest crew members of the White Star Line, including the ship’s designer, Thomas Andrews, and the chairman of the company, J. Bruce Ismay himself.

There will be many reproduction artifacts on display, and a handful of actual artifacts from the Titanic as well – which is awful exciting. And to top it all off, Helen Benzinger (the great-granddaughter of the “Unsinkable” Margaret Brown) will be attending as a featured speaker to participate in the event. At the end of the dinner, guests will be informed who among them survived or perished, and discussion will follow regarding the aftermath of the tragic sinking (which we will not be re-enacting because wow that would be sadistic and disrespectful).

Naturally, we’re excited to wear our fancy Edwardian gowns and formal suits, but we’re also just excited to have an event to honor the memory of those lost, and to commemorate the exquisite grandeur of a time gone by. As historical re-enactors, we love exploring what it is like to live a day in the shoes of someone who lived long before ourselves, and the Titanic has long been a source of fascination for historians and enthusiasts the world over.

I’ll be there as Broadway actress and silent film star Dorothy Gibson – I can’t wait. Hers is a fascinating story. Actually all of the stories of Titanic passengers and their families are surprisingly fascinating – and incredibly moving. If you’re in the area and this sounds like your thing, we’d love to have you join us at the beautiful historic Al Ringling Mansion.


Titanic Dinner

Saturday April 9th

Al Ringling Mansion in Baraboo, WI

Tickets are $95 (call 608-448-7055)

Formal wear encouraged!

Slice of Pie: Quality Comedy with Starlight Radio Dreams

In this magical age of podcast performances and a lively theatre scene in Chicago, there are many different genres and subjects to choose from. If you have a taste for the vintage-inspired, comedically-crafted, and the slightly off-kilter, then Starlight Radio Dreams may be exactly what you’re looking for! I caught up with some of the fine artists who bring Starlight Radio Dreams to life (literally) to get you the scoop on their far-out features and quirky characters!

~A Slice of Pie!~

A tasty sample of something fresh cooked up by a creator of my choosing.


Who are you?

Ansel: I’m Ansel Burch!

Derrick: And I’m Derrick Gaetke.


What’s your thing right now? That thing. You know. That thing over there. What is that?

Ansel: I’ve got a few balls in the air right now but the most new and exciting project is Starlight Radio Dreams. It’s a new variety serial podcast and performance venture here in Chicago.

Derrick: I’m the artistic director/one of the writers for Starlight Radio Dreams, a new comedy podcast that utilizes the radio serial and variety show formats of yesteryear and combines them with the aesthetics and genres of modern day entertainment.


What do you love about this thing?

A: I am the producer for the company but I’m also one of the writers. Hearing our actors perform these hilarious scripts is definitely the most fun part. We had a riot coming up with all the ideas for this first season.

D: In regards to the show itself, I’d have to say freedom. Crafting stories in a strictly audio environment allows us to take the audience places we simply wouldn’t have the budget for if we were attempting, say, a full on stage play or film. Want to fly through space with a seasoned crew of intergalactic war heroes? We’ve got that. Want to go on grand steampunk adventures with a walking, talking treasure chest? We’ve got that, too. And all without a single green screen!


What do you dislike about this thing?

A: So far all of the issues I’ve had have been external to our team. As any show like ours will, we’ve had troubles with booking venues and building our audience.

D: Keeping a podcast of this magnitude going on a monthly basis, especially when we all have day jobs, can be a little hectic. Instead of recording a discussion or, hey, even a prepared script in a studio, we’re consistently churning out original scripted content, rehearsing and then performing it for a live audience. That of course also means scheduling with the venues, getting the word out on dates and times of performances… it’s more than just making sure our podcast is up every week.


How and why did this thing get started? How long has it been going on?

A: It all started with four of us sharing ideas for radio shows. We all had ideas but we didn’t have an outlet to express them. We had all been involved in other podcasting projects previously but none of them were the right fit for the kind of fun we wanted to have. We wanted to make serials which were funny and kitschy but also had depth of spirit and would give the audience credit for being clever.

D: We were all inspired by the possibilities of an audio-only theatrical experience, but recognized that the ideas and stories churning in our noggins wouldn’t fit within the confines of those podcasts already up and running. So, rather than attempt to wedge ourselves into something already established we decided to start something new and, hopefully, unique for our audiences. Our first show went up in September 2015 and we’ve been performing monthly ever since.


When/how/where can people get some of the thing?

A: We are active on Twitter and Facebook but the best way to see when our next show will be and to listen to the podcasts from older shows is to go to our website!

D: New episodes get posted every Thursday except for our “performance weeks”, which is when you can see us live. This month we’ve got two performances for the second month in a row, which we’re very excited about. Tuesday, Feb. 23rd you can see us at the Black Rock Pub in Chicago, IL, and Thursday, Feb. 25th we’ll be at the Fizz Bar, also in Chicago. Both shows start at 8:00 PM, though the doors open at 7:30 if you’d like to come and watch us setup the mics or something.


What thing would you do if you had all the money and time in the world right now?

A: What we have is already great and the more we do it the better its going to get. No amount of money will change that. If we had more capital I’d focus that on the website and recordings to give our internet listeners a better experience. Right now the best way to have fun with our cast is to come in person.

D: Gosh, if I had all the time and money in the world I’d be, like, solving homelessness or world hunger or something. One of the other things I love about our show is how simple it is – we don’t need big budget SFX cuz everything cool happens in the audience’s heads. However, if we’re talking specifically about improving the show with this hypothetical Trump-level wealth, I would a.) pay our cast and crew so well they wouldn’t need to worry about those gosh darn day jobs, b.) buy the fancy sound equipment we’re looking to procure down the line to make the show sound the best it possibly can (though allow me to give a shout out to Shure, Inc. for their incredibly generous donations thus far; our appreciation can’t be measured in words), and c.) hire a marketer.  We creative types do what we can but start talking to us about focus groups and demographics and business business business and my brain starts to melt.


What’s your new favorite thing that someone else has done/made?

A: I am the narrator for another podcast called Our Fair City. It is very different to Starlight Radio Dreams and the process is very different too. I recorded the last of my lines for it last month and the new seventh season comes out soon on the website!

D: Three of our company members have done some fantastic work with the podcast Our Fair City, so we always want to give our friends over them some major props for their well-deserved success (over 250,000 downloads in 2015! Go OFC!). I’ve also recently discovered the podcast Blurry Photos, an enjoyable paranormal/cryptid show hosted by two hilarious Chicago boys, both named Dave.

Oh, and last but not least YOUR BOOK On the Isle of Sound and Wonder! Looking to break into the professional author’s world myself, I’m thrilled for your success with this breakthrough novel. Seriously, it’s an awesome debut and literally everyone who’s even skimming through this should read it. And I’m not even getting paid to say this, folks.

(Aly: Oh pshhhhh Derrick you flatterer! *blush*)


Possibly the most important question… If your thing was a pie, what kind of pie would it be?

A: Something with lots of nuts but also plenty of sweetness. Is there a kind of pie where every slice is a different flavour? That is the kind of pie our project would be.

D: I’m a big fan of pecan pie, so I’m going to go with pecan. Sure, it might look weird at first and even a little hard to cut into, but then you get to that sweet, sweet filling and you’re like, “Oh, yeah… that’s the stuff!”

 (Aly:  I guess the Starlight Radio Dreams team really are a nutty bunch!)


I’m so pleased to spotlight the gang of Starlight Radio Dreams on the blog! Ansel is a pretty good friend of mine – but I know almost all of these fantastic weirdoes through the Ren Faire crowd… they’re all supremely funny, creative, and good folks to know. I can’t wait to check out the newest updates on their site – Geezerspace is pretty dang hilarious, if you ask me! Check ’em out if you’re in town, and if you aren’t, get on the site and download their audio episodes!