Black, White, & Staged All Over

Beck Center offers acclaimed play about the early days of TV.

Walking into the Beck Center for its production of My Favorite Year is like stepping into a Saturday Night Live spoof of the early '50s sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet. "There are TV cameras the size of a Buick," says William Roudebush, the musical's director. "It's interesting to connect the setting to the piece and realize that, at a certain point, there was black-and-white television."Based on the 1982 Peter O'Toole flick, the show is feel-good nostalgia about the boob tube's early days and follows a writer who works on one of the era's most popular variety shows, King Kaiser's Comedy Cavalcade. By the end of the show, he's fallen in love, found career success, and sobered up an alcoholic star before the former A-lister appears on the show. "It's fun to watch these characters connect to each other and struggle through their pain and find the human experience" says Roudebush. "And the play is genuinely funny."Audience members who were born long after the '50s might still get a giggle out of the era's clothing styles and car models. But the core storyline, about a man struggling with the same emotions and issues as everyone else, will hit home. As for Roudebush, the play takes him back to his childhood. "I remember getting our first TV in 1954, and it was ceremoniously placed in our living room. That really began our generation," he remembers. "Nostalgia is underrated." Act One starts at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, through Sunday, June 8, at the Beck Center for the Arts, 17801 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood. Tickets are $17 to $28. Call 216-521-2540 or visit
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: May 24. Continues through June 8, 2008