MST3K Reboot: World Premiere Red Carpet Event – Music Box Theatre
Chicago, IL 2/14/2017

At last the time had come to relaunch MST3K. The long-awaited season 11 would be debuting in April, but there would be three red carpet premieres held across the country to give MSTies a chance to revel in their support to Bring Back MST3K.

MSTies were ecstatic on 11/10/15 when Joel announced he wanted to start creating new episodes of MST3K. When the Kickstarter to Bring Back MST3K ended on 12/11/15 it had set the record for dollars pledged for a web series. The new crew had been announced and writing and filming would take place over the next year.
In an unrelated event, on 1/11/17 I managed to slip and fall on a patch of ice in the parking lot of my employer. Even though I tried to just walk it off and made it to my desk it was soon obvious something was wrong and later that day I found out I had a compression fracture in my upper left humerus (you can see the splintered bone in the catscan on the left). My arm would be in a sling, and I was unable to drive for a couple months.
Just a couple weeks later, on 1/27/17 Joel posted that there was going to be a premiere celebration tour so fans could see the first new episode before anyone else. They announced shows in New York City on 2/14/17, in Chicago on 2/16/17 and in Los Angeles on 2/20/17. Chicago is only about 4 hours away from where I live north of Detroit, so I talked to my nephew Rick Schumaker, who is my co-pilot on my web site and is also a MSTie, if he wanted to go with me. He jumped at the chance.
We left the morning of the show and soon the Chicago skyline was approaching.
At about the same time that morning Jonah, Hampton, Baron and Joel appeared with host Erik Adams on the AV Club, which is headquartered in Chicago. They discussed the progress of the new show and the current live premiere tour.
We checked into the Majestic Hotel in the North Chicago district of Wrigleyville and within walking distance of the theater.
Once we were settled in, we began our walk towards a meet-up with other MSTies and on the way got to see something not seen in Chicago since 1908. As we passed Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, their marquee proudly displayed that they were the reigning Major League Baseball champs (at least until the new season started in about a month).
  Our first stop was D’Agostino’s Pizza and Pub to grab some dinner and meet up with MSTies coming in from around the Midwest for the premiere.
Among the wonderful folks that joined us were Dane Mychal and Katie Marvin, Michael and Cindy Albright and Amy Page. We had a great time with everyone that joined us.
The Music Box Theatre was just a couple blocks away and fans were greeted with a bright, shiny marquee welcoming us to the premiere of episode 1101. It was an extremely great site to see (even if one of the letters was partially burned out).
The crowd lined up while enduring overcast, low 40-degree weather, but everyone felt warm with the rush of excitement as we waited to be let inside. (Over the next few days, the temperatures rose into the low 70’s in Chicago, but that was a bit late to help warm the fans.) We were required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) while waiting to make sure no one spoiled the surprise for other fans world-wide. After all, the eventual “official” Netflix release would not be until 4/14/17.
While waiting we were greeted by a new, lively robot character (who we would later learn was named Waverly and was puppeteered by Grant Baciocco).
We also got to see the new one sheet poster for the rebirth of MST3K. The colorful homage to the Frankenstein-ish new life to the show was created by artist Steve Vance, who had been creating poster inserts for all the Shout Factory DVD releases.
Here is my ticket for the show. I had popped for Red Carpet tickets for my nephew and I and it was only after arriving in Chicago that I learned that there was still a tier above these that included the post show meet and greet with the cast. I quickly contacted show producer/ promoter Ivan Askwith, who was able to hook me up for the top-level tickets and had special VIP passes for us at the theater front door.
Very shortly after getting inside, getting my Backer badge and checking my coat I heard someone questioning, “Tom? Is that you?” I turned to see none other than legendary prop diva Beez McKeever standing behind me. Beez and I had been on-line friends since 1999, but this was the first time we ever met face to face. It was wonderful to get a chance to chat with her and find that she is absolutely as charming in person as she has always been to fans in cyberspace.
Then it was time to walk the red carpet. My nephew and I were both excited to be there and couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear.
Next was Beez.
Then MST3K alum, and Sci-Fi Channel era Crow, Bill Corbett and his wife Virginia.
Followed by Paul (Chaplin) Schersten and his wife. Paul had written and performed on the old MST and was doing some writing for the new season as well.
Inside the theater we were treated to some organ music while we waited for the show to start.
Finally, the time had arrived! The first new episode of season 11 was Reptilicus, the 1961 Danish-American movie filled with enough cheesy acting and a flame-spitting giant monster that gave the new crew plenty of opportunity to riff away.
If it seems strange to find a Kaiju type beast in Denmark, we would soon learn that every country has a monster.
After the premiere viewing of the show the cast came out on stage for a lively conversation and some Q&A. Joining Joel was Jonah, Hampton and Baron plus we got to meet Rebecca Hanson, who was the new voice of Gypsy as well as a character named Synthia, a clone of Pearl Forester.
The crowd showed their approval of the show and were properly accompanied by tuxedo-clad bots while asking questions of the cast.
Fans that had sprung for the after party filed out into the theater foyer and were able to get their picture taken with Jonah Ray and the bots. Jonah ducked down a bit so we look about the same size, but trust me he towered over me when I first walked up and got to say hello and thanks and shake his hand.
During the after party, I got to meet all the new crew. First was new Crow Hampton Yount.
Then there was new Servo Baron Vaughn. We got to spend a few minutes with each to thank them and ask a question or two. Fans were great about keeping the lines moving and giving each other a chance to enjoy the moment.
It’s always a pleasure to see Joel again. I really appreciate that by this time Joel recognized me and remembered my name. I had to thank him for making this rebirth of MST happen and I was happy to support the effort.
I also got to spend some time chatting with long time friends Nate and Jessica (Sawinski) Couch. I have known Nate and Jess forever. They are literally two of the first friends I made on-line when I first started chatting. We had met face to face for the first time at the RiffTrax/ MST3K Reunion show in Minneapolis in 2016 and it was great to see them again.
Bill Corbett roamed the room and took time to chat with any fans that wanted to say hi and wish him well. Bill is “good people.”
Now I need to share some of the swag I picked up at the show. First is the official premiere poster signed by Zach Thompson, Rebecca Hanson, Russ Walko, Tim Ryder, Grant Baciocco, Jonah, Baron, Joel, Hampton. It’s fun having it signed by not only all the cast that was there but all of the puppeteers too.
Next is the official picture taken with Jonah as seen above plus the nice sleeve it was put in to protect it.
My event badge. My name is handwritten on the back. Most had a printed label of their name but because Ivan Aswith was able to help us level up to VIP at the last minute, they only had time to write it on there for us.
We also received a really nice pint glass commemorating the Kickstarter campaign and the screening tour.
These are the seat place holders for Rebecca Hanson and Paul Chaplin that had been left in the theater as everyone moved toward the after party. (Another MSTie had grabbed all the others and was able to get the signed by the cast.)
Finally, here is the commemorative event ticket, wristband for access to the after party and a popcorn bag and ticket compliments of the Music Box Theatre.
Rick and I were excited but exhausted by the end of the after party. We decided to take an Uber back to the hotel and immediately collapsed for the night. The next morning, we woke up to a beautiful day, so we decided to head to downtown Chicago for a while before heading home. We went to one of my favorite museums anywhere in the country. The Art Institute of Chicago.
We took a break to grab some lunch at one of my favorite Chicago haunts. Giordano’s, the home of the Chicago-style stuffed pizza. They take a while to prepare so we had a long chat with the owner of the restaurant. He was happy to hear our stories and handed us a bunch of Giordano’s souvenirs (which I managed to lose).
Great, hearty pizza that only requires a slice or two to fill me up, so what better way to wrap up this trip report than enjoying a delicious slice and then a relaxing drive back to Michigan to revel in the memories of another amazing MSTie event.