Dwight and Alien Voices

Los Angeles, California, July 16th, 1998, 5 p.m.

We - my boyfriend Frank and I - are on our way to the Variety Arts Center on South Figueroa Street in the middle of the rush hour. I heard of this Alien Voices performance back in Germany, via the Internet. All my e-mails to reserve two of those free tickets for the Sci-Fi Channel taping of Arthur Conan Doyle´s "Lost World" including Dwight Schultz have come back - rejected by the server. My phonecalls to the "Standing Room Only Audience Company" have always only been answered by their answering machine. I only hope they´ve reserved the tickets anyway, although I wasn´t able to leave a phone number. You just can´t do that if you never know what hotel you´ll be staying in the next night during your round trip through California and Arizona. Well, we´ve even changed our travel plans to get here on the 16th! So just let´s hope...

Variety Arts Center, 5.30 p.m.

There´s a friendly lady outside the theatre who is taking our names on a list. She seems to remember that there were people who called ahead from Germany. And she offers that she could take us in not only for the taping itself but also for the rehearsal. Relieved, we enter the theatre and take a seat in the front rows. But a sign announcing "A Halloween Trilogy" instead of "Lost World" leaves me worried again. What if Dwight won´t appear at all?

They have engaged a comedian to entertain the audience while preparations for the rehearsal go on on stage. After a few minutes, Frank is spotting Dwight at the stage entrance. So he´s here, great!

The rehearsal starts with "The Mark of the Beast" by Rudyard Kipling. The actors, among them Leonard Nimoy, John deLancie and others are basically reading their parts as Alien Voices is generally a company producing audio tapes. Nevertheless, the gestures and mimics of the stars are great and the way they are reading the texts does make you shiver from time to time.

The actors are supported by some Foley artists dressed in skeleton costumes. They are really fun to watch producing sounds with the strangest means you can think of, e.g. biting into large vegetables. Dwight is playing the part of "Flint" in this first story, which deals with the Indian "Monkey God". It is Flint´s wedding and he is remembering together with an old friend (John deLancie) what happened years ago, when a close friend shot a monkey during a religious ceremony and was transformed into an ape-like beast. Flint and his companions weren´t able to save him, even not with the support of a fast-called doctor.

The second story is a very well-known one: "The Canterville Ghost" by Oscar Wilde. This story also features Jean Simmons in the role of the little girl who enables the ghost to finally go to rest at the end of the story. The piece deals with a family moving into an old castle and encountering a ghost. The fearless father (Leonard Nimoy) leaves the poor ghost quite disturbed. One night, the daughter is meeting the ghost and he´s telling his story of murdering his wife more than 100 years ago and feeling terribly sorry for that. When the girl says that she is forgiving him, the two of them have suddenly to face the "Angel of Death" (Dwight). After the ghost has made up a deal with the angel, the girl is allowed to return to the living.

The last story of the trilogy is "The casket of Amontillado" by Poe. Dwight only has a very small part in this, right at the beginning, if I remember it right. Leonard Nimoy is the main figure in this play, longing for revenge for all the things Montillado did to his family. So he lures him into an old catacomb, where he ties Montillado to the wall and puts a brick wall up to bury him alive. Leonard´s voice reflects the hunger for revenge perfectly and his laughter adds a hint of crazyness. This third story ends "A Halloween Trilogy" and we walk out - but are allowed to enter the "rehearsal line" which is allowed to get in first after the VIPs.

We have to watch this taping from the balcony as all the VIPs occupy the theatre below. It´s fun to watch the whole thing again, this time also with the benefit of monitors which show the scenes taken for the Sci-Fi Channel. We both agree that this was definitely worth changing our travel plans.

Around 9 p.m., after the show

We get down from the balcony and enter the theatre below. I have brought along some things for Dwight and I ´ve planned to offer him a honorary membership to the ATFS. Again, we are lucky. Dwight comes out of the stage entrance and signs some items other people have brought along, among them a big teddy bear wearing a Star Trek shirt. When he is walking by, I tell him that we´re here all the way from Germany. He immediately promises to sign our photos (I found an old Official A-Team Fan Club kit on Hollywood Boulevard the day before) and adds that we have to move away from the stage as they are recording some of the sounds again.

The A-Team pictures seem to be a welcome change to all that Star Trek stuff, it´s a long time ago. I hand over the latest Baracus News issue, which he finds quite interesting along with a blue "Eurocopter Murdock Cap" together with two helicopter pins. Dwight says that he hasn´t received a BN before (must have been a wrong address I sent it to) and expresses the wish to obtain future issues. So welcome to the ATFS, Dwight! Before leaving, I ask him if he would mind if we took a picture together.

In fact, we do even two, one with Frank, one with me. You can see the results on this page. We thank him a lot, so does he for the items we ´ve brought along. We leave the Variety Arts Center, really happy. I notice that all the stars are moving around in the lobby and in front of the theatre without any bodyguards. There are no fans taking photos without asking. No one interrupts the actors in their conversations asking for autographs. I´ve been only to one Star Trek con here in Germany so far, but I believe German fans really could learn here something from the Americans.

As a conclusion, I can only say that this was a wonderful evening I will probably never forget and it added something special to an already very fantastic holiday.