Thursday, May 1, 2014

WEWS-TV 5.."On Stage"

Undated photo of Alan Douglas, Producer of the "On Stage" program aired Tuesday Nights for 10 weeks in 1956..He later would be known as a radio and TV talk show host with "The Alan Douglas Show" on WEWS and later WKBF-61, and being the first host of the Morning Exchange in the first few months of 1972.
Courtesy Northeast Ohio TV Memories and The John Carroll University Archive..

     When WEWS-TV 5 became an ABC affiliate March 2, 1955, it left hours of programming to fill, especially in the daytime. ABC was definitely a 3rd place network in the 1950's, and it wasn't that unheard of to routinely pre-empt network programs for syndicated or local offerings..Local news was also not as important as it would become later on..

With this in mind, Alan Douglas got the idea of a locally produced live "Play of the Week" WEWS agreed to open the Tuesday 11-12 Midnight time slot for Douglas. The show was called "On Stage" and it was sponsored, at least initially by Stern Brothers Plumbing Company..
     Introductory article by The Plain Dealer's Tom O' Connell, dated Saturday, February 4, 1956..

     The idea was to make each play a completely local production, from writers to technical support to acting..Actors were drawn from The Cleveland and Lakewood Playhouse, as well as local print and broadcast media.  A particularly ambitious effort, considering that  the budget you could do on a local level was a mere percentage of what could be done on a network level by shows like Playhouse 90 and Studio One.
April 12, 1956:Epilogue of the total "On Stage" effort following the airing of the last live broadcast April 10 by Cleveland Plain Dealer TV/Radio editor George Condon..

It was suggested by Condon that quality might be better if they just did one play a month rather than trying to do one a week, though On Stage never returned after it's 10-week run ended April 10, 1956.

Alan Douglas would be involved with another live TV effort on Channel 5 in Summer 1957..Johnny
McQueen, which lasted 9 weeks..

Here is an attempt at a episode guide finding out as much as possible about each production..Title, writers and actors. I used the Plain Dealer Archive and the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram through TV writer Dorothy Funk to get some info on 9 of the 10 episodes. Could not find anything on the April 3, 1956 program..

On Stage
Tuesdays 11PM
WEWS February 7-April 10, 1956 (10 weeks)
Producer Alan Douglas
Feb. 7 Incident at "33"
Writer Roger Albright
Ralph Beattie, Larry Kuhl, Keith Mackey Ruth Weiss Dolly Wheaton Bill Barrett

Feb. 14 "Lion's Share"
Writer Eleanor Bayer
Bill Prentice Cole Klein

Feb. 21 "The Interurban Voyage of Alfred Hoskins"
Writer Junius Eddy
Austin Beech, Dorothy Sands, Braemer Carlson, Bunny Bronstein and Michael Sandrey

Feb.28 "Nobody Misses Ringo"
Writer Alan Douglas
Bob McKnight (ClevelandPress)

March 6 "The Two-Bed-Room"
Barbara Lee, Dolly Wheaton, Alverda Sohlens and Nick Peters

March 13 " Elisha and the Long Knives"
Linn Sheldon, Bill Barrett

March 20 "Thirty, Honey, Thirty"
Al Henderson, Patti Rowe March

27 "A Hat For Winter"
Writer Mel Goldberg
Peggy Simmons, John Rose

April 3-No Title

April 10 "This Way To Victory"
Writer Henry Alexander
Karl Mackey, Wayne Jordan

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