The Shawnee Theatre of Greene County opens its fifty-first season with Ted Swindley's Honky Tonk Angels. Directed by Jake Miller, the show is an evening of country hits made famous by singers like Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Bobby Gentry and Tanya Tucker, which decorate a loosely organized story of three women who leave home to realize the dream of singing in Nashville.
A Story Starts With Song
The show opens with a bored and put-upon housewife, Amy Burgmaier, singing "Stand By Your Man" at an ironing board at center stage. Then the lights come up on Lisa Ermel, at stage left, as an equally unsatisfied secretary singing "Nine to Five." Then, at stage right, a wistful Kayla Straub sits on a hay bale, singing "Coal Miner's Daughter." In just moments, Burgmaier has elected to no longer stand by her man, Ermel has ditched the nine to five and Straub has taken up her guitar and her hopes as well. When the three women meet and bond on a Greyhound bus bound for Nashville, the story has begun.
Act Two is a variety show; each singer offers a feature. Lisa Ermel appears as an Egyptian goddess, and also as a roller skating waitress. Kayla Straub tries on the roles of both an unwilling siren and a country flouncer. Amy Burgmaier holds court in a tight skirt, singing "Harper Valley PTA," and later appears in curlers with a rolling pin, charging into the audience in anger. Shawnee costume designer Justin Feichter and his staff got a chance to work hard and show off with their variety of eye-catching quick changes.
Behind The Scenes
Pianist Amy Thomas is the music director for the show and leads the six-piece band. The individual songs are well delivered, sung with first-rate diction. The musical high points were the trio harmonies – when the ladies sang together; they were really nicely done.
Honky Tonk Angels is a perfect choice for the Shawnee's season opener.
For More About Honky Tonk Angels...
...listen to George Walker's interview with Amy Burgmaier.