1987 - The Titanic Lounge

In late 1986, the new Artistic Director of the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Los Angeles, David Kaplan, who had directed Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights, met with Wayne Winstead to discuss his plans to open an extension of the theatre to create a late night cabaret. This would be a creative space to which theatre goers could hang out after a main stage performance and take-in some unique performances by members of the company who wanted a place to "workout." There were no limits set for the performers and it would give them a chance to expand their talents. The theatre rented a small space in a strip mall across the street. David asked Wayne to coordinate all of the music acts. This gave Wayne the chance he needed to form a comedic barbershop quartet that could perform throughout the evening with interludes between other acts. In the meantime, he needed to book other performers.

Many members of the company at the Ensemble took advantage of this outlet. Some brought in musical instruments to play, others sang, some recited poetry or did stand-up routines. John Cox and Ronald Hoffman had moved to Los Angeles a couple of years earlier. They offered to come to the space and do an act they billed as "The Tater Brothers." With Ron playing guitar, he and John sang off-color and sexually suggestive original songs while dressed in typically trailer-trash garb - overalls and t-shirts. In the meantime,Wayne reached out the The Plugs from Dr. Faustus Lights the Lightsto get together and do some barbershop numbers. They declined - again. Wayne opened a call to the rest of the company for any actors who wanted to dabble in barbershop singing.There was no response.

Ron knew that Wayne was trying to put a quartet together for the cabaret and offered that John and he would gladly do it.He also recommended another guy that would be a perfect lead for a quartet; their roommate, Rex Rotsko.Wayne discussed with Ron his ideas for a comedic group, something that would look like a barbershop quartet, but wouldn’t pass the standards of SPEBSQSA (The Society for the Preservation and Encouragementof Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America).Ron already had some ideas brewing and so he invited Wayne to meet with him, John and Rex at their place one evening. Rex would not only complete the quartet, he would lend his expertise in great 20th Century disasters that would lead to the naming of the Ensemble Studio Theatre's late-night cabaret - The Titanic Lounge.

976-SING 2012