DENNISPORT – App-Show? “We own the term, App-Show,” said John Sullivan, co-creator of “Quahog Corner,” which is in production in Dennis after a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised more than their goal of $25,000.
Quahog Corner, was defined on their Kickstarter campaign as “a new children’s show that is wrapped in an App- for iPad and Android tablets. Featuring expert drawing lessons.”
“Quahog Corner is going to be something unique,” said Sullivan, a retired Barnstable High School art teacher and drama coach, who also worked in Hollywood as an animator on the film, “The Pagemaster.” The idea is to meld old-fashioned television sensibilities, such as from the Captain Bob show of the 1950s, with new technology.
Sullivan, who retired this year after teaching for 33 years, is working with Andrew Rapo, a former student of his who graduated in 1986. Rapo, a computer programmer and songwriter, has worked at Disney and with Pixar, among others.
I retired in the second week of February,” said Sullivan. “I took 60 boxes home from the office and I was sitting there with all these boxes when the phone rang. It was Andrew. He asked, ‘What are you doing? Want to get lunch?’ He decided we should do something together.”
So they went to lunch. Sullivan had already been toying with the idea of a television show called Quahog Corner. When Sullivan told Rapo, Rapo thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me because I was working on a thing called Camp Quahog.”
Rapo’s idea was an app. Sullivan’s was a show. Thus, App-Show.
“The tablet is a kid’s medium of choice now,” explained Rapo. “Apps that have an educational quality rate high with parents. The instructional aspect, learning to draw is a plus. It helps it stand out. It’s an opportunity to bring out creativity in people.”
The duo is working on two 22-minute episodes plus 12 drawing lessons. “We want to sort of educate and entertain at the same time, which is what I did for 33 years at Barnstable High School,’ said Sullivan. ““You always teach kids the most when there’s a project to be done and when you’ve made the whole thing fun.”
On a set at the Cape Cod Community Media Center, with Tom Gleadow of Providence, R.I., dressed as Captain Salty, the camraderie and joviality are evident. The voice of one animated character, Crabby Crab, is done by Sullivan’s brother, Fred, an actor at Trinity Rep. ““He lives and breathes theater,” said Sullivan of Fred.
He’s also hilarious, as fun to watch in person performing as the voice of the witty crab as it is to watch the animated crab move with Fred’s voice.
Crabby Crab is just one of many animated characters in Quahog Corner, including Cyril the sea serpent, Gertrude the herring gull, and,of course, the twin lobsters, “which, as you know, are everywhere around here,” said Sullivan.
But the show revolves around Captain Salty. “Salty is kind of like Jerry Seinfeld, “ said Sullivan. “He’s sort of the center of this crazy world revolving around him.”
In the midst of these 22-minute episodes are characters such as the Magical Maestro who lives in a box and Professor Ticonderoga, who can teach you to draw anything, when he’s not doing yoga.
“It’s kind of understood in kid’s programming that your going to have music,” said Rapo, who has collaborated with Sullivan many times before.
“Five people I know write songs, “ said Sullivan. “All are former students.”
Sullivan wrote the script and did the animation. The script is revised by the actors as it is developed. Rapo wrote the music and is developing the app. And then there are all the others. According to Rapo, several generations of Sullivan’s former students routinely show up to volunteer on the production.
Sullivan used to run a summer theater, said Rapo and in many ways, “This is new summer theater 2.0.”
Rapo spoke of Sullivan as his inspiration and as the inspiration for countless others.
Sullivan’s classroom was “a launching point for unexpected adventures that were just fun. It was a great launching point. Some of the people I worked with out at Disney came from Barnstable High School,” said Rapo, who graduated from Cornell University with a degree in computer science.
“He’s the kind of teacher you’d meet in this show,” said Rapo. “You never know what you’re going to encounter and you know it will be unexpected.”
— Brian Tarcy