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One for the Kids


Many playwrights labor for years with a

script; some manage to produce a show a year. But Zach Hanner writes, directs and performs in an original show every week.

“I say ‘Super,’ you say ‘Saturday’!” Super! (Saturday!) Super! (Saturday!) The call and response begins, Hanner dons a captain’s hat, adjusts his Lennon glasses and strums the opening strains of the “Super Saturday Fun Time” theme song. A roomful of excited, adoring children scream the refrain back to him. Though it feels like Hanner’s own personal rock concert, it’s well before noon on Saturday morning at TheatreNOW, the dinner theater venue on the corner of Dock and Tenth streets. The idea of a weekly “TV show” for the stage is certainly not new to Wilmington. Local theater-going audiences will remember the long-running weekly live soap opera, “Shelf Life,” at the now defunct Bessie’s. More recently, Tony Moore wrote and produced “Sides,” a live weekly sitcom at the Browncoat. And there have been a host of weekly sketch comedy shows. But thus far, a weekly live TV show for the stage written exclusively for elementary school-aged children is unique in Wilmington, possibly the rest of the country. Maybe Hanner is the first to do this? “I haven’t heard of another one,” he says. “Super Saturday Fun Time with Dock the Dog and the Dock Street Kids” 16

Salt • August 2013

is like “Scooby-Doo” set right here in the Port City. Instead of Scooby, there’s Dock, a friendly dog, played by Alex Holland, who helps his teenage friends solve a new mystery each week. Of course there’s always a perilous adventure to be had and some frightening encounter with a monster of sorts (always played by Ron Hasson). Surprisingly, the villain turns out to be a man in a mask. Each week’s theme is based around an aspect of Wilmington history, such as Thalian Hall, Oakdale Cemetery, Masonboro Island, or the Bellamy Mansion. “My parents were both educators,” Hanner notes, explaining that usually Dock’s gang has to go to the library to research clues to solve the mystery. In place of commercials, Hanner has short educational segments and original music with lots of audience participation. TheatreNOW has a great multimedia set-up so he also shows a surfing-related short film most weeks. One Saturday the surf short was about how to cut up a surfboard to take it as carry-on luggage when you travel and then reassemble to hit the beach. Since Hanner started surfing at age 13, and many kids in the audience learn to surf in elementary school, it’s an interest he and his audience share. The summer he was 19, Hanner worked as a counselor at Camp Sea Gull in Arapahoe, North Carolina. “They asked me to do a skit, so I dressed up like Pee-wee Herman,” says Hanner, chuckling at the memory. The campers ate it up. After college, Hanner moved to Wilmington to cut his teeth on the theater scene and break into the thriving film business of the 90s. His first oncamera work was for Forrest Gump. His line was cut, but he was hooked. Hungry for a taste of the big city, Hanner moved to New York for a spell, but in 2001, he and his muse-turned-bride, Dagmar Cooley, returned to Wilmington to settle. Hanner immediately found himself back in the land of children’s theater starring as the Grinch in a Journey Productions show of The Art & Soul of Wilmington


Zach Hanner’s delightful weekly live TV show is unique to Wilmington — and maybe America at large

August 2013 Salt  

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

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