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Click here for episode information and a character listing
Friday, July 26th
We arrived at 7:30 for events starting at 9:00, and had to park FAR from the buildings as we were not the first to arrive. We were also far from the last, cars poured in all day I estimated about 10,000 cars in both lots. From that I estimated 20,000+ people in attendance, though not all at once, oddly it seemed like we rarely saw more than 3,000 people all at once (usually at the AIO Recordings). However according to the ticket sales, almost 50,000 people were in attendance over the course of those 2 days. My sister Naomi and I met up with our friend Katie Kemple, then wandered around for a while, checked out the food court, the displays, the Kidz Zone. We met up with Nathan Hoobler, who informed us of the latest decoration at Whit’s End—500 AIO tapes hanging from the ceiling, to celebrate the 500th Episode of AIO. Also noted that ALL Focus employees had matching shirts (except for a few rebels, like Paul McCusker).
We visited the Heritage Pavilion which was built to celebrate the 25th anniversary of FOTF and all their ministries. There we saw the video of the “Jason Townsend” story hosted by Diane Ingola (The creator of the discovery emporium). Jason Townsend was a young boy that was dying, whose wish was to meet Townsend Coleman (Jason Whittaker).
Finally we went to the Kids Theater in the Chapelteria where the AIO episode would be recorded at 11:30. We watched a juggler and talked a bit to the MC of the kids events, Diane Ingola. They had to clear the room and shut the doors while they prepared for the live show. They needed to run sound checks and setup the stage. When they let us back in, there were hundreds of people waiting outside the doors, we got in quickly, and got good seats in the middle, just a few rows back. Diane introduced the AIO Actors, Chris Anthony (Chris the Announcer), Aria Curzon (Mandy Straussberg), Townsend Coleman (Jason Whittaker), Walker Edmiston (Tom Riley/Bart Rathbone), Katie Leigh (Connie Kendall), Paul Herlinger (John Avery Whittaker), and Chuck Bolte (George Barclay) & Special Guest Dave Arnold as "Big John McBear."
After some brief talk about how the production and the Live Sound Effects (by Rob Jorgenson, the man of many pairs of shoes) would work, the show began! What a great show! A few Bloopers, plenty of great lines. The entire episode was a “Candid Conversations with Connie” Episode. WATCHING the actors is SOOOOO different than just hearing them, they seemed to REALLY bring their characters to life. At the end of the last sketch, the fans started to clap, and a few rose to give a standing ovation, but they were interrupted by Chris say “Hey you guys! We’re not done yet! How does the show end?” proceeding with the credits and the address.
Nathan Hoobler was the Stage Director, Paul McCusker was the VOG (Voice-Over-Guy), sometimes called the “Voice of God” as he often came out of nowhere with a big booming voice.
Jonathan Crowe, and Glenn Montjoy handled Sound Recording and “Canned” SFX.
After the show, we went out a side door and caught up the actors on their way to their VIP lunch. Then the 1:30 Autograph Session Line began to form so I got in that and the girls went to get some Lunch. The food court was very busy and so they didn’t return until the line started moving, but they got there in time to go through. They only allowed 1 Signature from each actor per family. Marshal Younger was handing out special photos of the actors, but I got my signatures in my Complete Guide (Save for Aria, who I got to sign a photo of herself). Also asked Aria about her future on the show, she’ll be around for a while (though some other kid actors got cut).
this we waited around for Kathy
Wierenga to bring Katie back for our interview. I asked Kathy to autograph
her recent book "Double Exposure", and got Marshal to autograph his
book, the adaptation of The
Caves of Qumran.
Here for the Audio Interview
Click Here for Article by Katie Kemple about the interview
Our Interview lasted only 40 minutes on tape, but we were interrupted by a phone call on Katie’s cell (from her kids) and a visitor with cotton candy for KatieJ. All in all we had a blast, but had to let Katie and Kathy get on with their day, including Katie’s visit to the Kids' Radio Studio to record an Adventures and to Whit’s End, to greet some fans there.
As we were leaving we got to see a Video that was still playing from the “Meet & Greet/Autograph Session” of the “Behind the Scenes” at AIO, mostly the recording session of the “EX” shows, Watching them record, re-record and do over the Imagination Station being destroyed scene (with NO music or SFX) was so neat. Well we had had a FULL day and were trying to grasp another just like it.
Saturday, July 27th
We arrived at 8:30, actually parked CLOSER Today. More “Hang-Out” Time, Went to the Kids Theatre at 9:00 to watch a juggler (www.christianjuggler.com), then at 9:30 was the Video Premiere of “Ribbits”, then the place REALLY filled up for the 10:00 “Bibleman” Live. Went and had lunch, then came back at noon (AIO at 1:30) to watch an “Illusionist” who was quite good.
They made everyone leave again to setup for the Odyssey Taping. We got out late, and thus there was NOWHERE to go, everyone had walked out, and turned around to get back in when they re-opened! Well we made it out (barely) as they forced people to keep moving back. Well we made it about 3 inches out the door, stopped by a SEA of people. This was a good thing as when the doors opened again we got right back in and got our seats back. Got to chat with a few more people, like John Beebee, and his kids. They had the "Whit" and "Sherman" walking about (costumed people) even trying to do "The Wave." Even got to meet Bob Luttrell. Forgot to get him to sign my book though, so I hope I'll get to see him again someday.
The AIO was the exact same script as the day before, just re-recording to get better lines, sometimes took 3-4 takes with certain actors, but we won’t name names. There were A LOT more funny bloopers. Also...in the sketch with “Old Tom,” the script originally said “Refrigerator.” Walker changed it at the Thursday night rehearsal to make it funnier—he stuttered over the word and changed it to "ice box." After the show finally ended (an hour or so later), the fans gave them a standing ovation, and then they moved on to the Q&A Session. When we came in every seat had a 3x5 card on it. Before the show started they collected questions for the actors. Well they asked some mighty good ones. I WISH I could remember them all. They even asked my question, which was just to share a favorite moment in recording. One fan asked Walker to do a conversation between Bart and Tom, which he did (arguing over something at the Electric Palace) other than turning his head, he switched without missing a beat! It was great. When asked about their favorite shows, here’s what they said: Aria: “Clara” & “Tornado” - Townsend: “Anything with Tasha” - Walker: “The Mortal Coil” - Katie: “A License to Drive” & “Back to Bethlehem” - Paul Herlinger - “Clara”
When asked about their families, Chris acknowledged that yes she was married, and had 1 little girl. Townsend’s daughter actually in labor that weekend, so “Towney” would soon be a grandfather. Katie of course has 3 kids. Aria’s Parents were in attendance, and we got introduced to “Mrs. Whit” (Paul Herlinger’s Wife)
Well THAT was an AWESOME 2 day experience. I'm definately going to go to the next major AIO event for sure. I hope you can come, too.