My Favorite Year
Central Florida Community Arts
Book by Joseph Dougherty
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Directed by Donald Rupe
Starring Blake Aburn, David Lowe, and Peter Vaiknoras
The golden age of television wasn’t so much gold as dross buffed to a high sheen. This vast new media voraciously demanded material, and the best source was underemployed vaudevillians and washed up prewar movie drunks. Benji Stone (Aburn) just started as junior joke writer on the hottest show on the air: “The King Kaiser Comedy Cavalcade.” King Kaiser (Vaiknoras) may be funny on air, but back stage he’s the boss from hell, all ego and short to boot. When the opportunity arises to hire washed film swashbuckler Alan Swann (Lowe), Kaiser nixes the idea. But Benjy argues elegantly for his idol and with few options this close to show time on live TV the hire Swann with the proviso Benjy must keep him sober. Benjy pounds out the script, and head writer Sy Benson (Quentin Prior) steals the credit, But Benjy gets his dream, and his adventures keeping Swann sober take them from the heights of Park Avenue to the Yiddish stronghold of Brooklyn. It’s funny, it’s sad, and its packed with great songs. If only TV today could pull off this level of style, I might start watching it again.
Aburn looks like an over grown kid in his sweater vest and bow tie. He’s lovable yet persuasive, and you totally buy his ability to write funny. Lowe’s Swann is an older man with a solid sense of stage drunk timing, you can almost smell the bourbon on his breath. Vaiknoras’ Kaiser suffers from short man syndrome and he looked ready to fire the audience. And when it comes time to dance on stage, Sara Humbert’s Alice did a great number with Vaiknoras spoofing the classic “Side by Side.” There’s a continues string of great musical numbers here, fake ads, and the sounds if not the smells of the studio. Fun, furious and fanciful, this looks at the glory days of live TV makes a delightful evening’s entertainment.