Maryland Ensemble Theatre (MET) will present an original ensemble created production for the Fredneck in all of us, The All New Grand Ole Hee Haw Hootenanny Hoedown Jamboree. Directed by MET Artistic Director Tad Janes and Associate Artistic Directors Gené Fouché and Julie Herber, the show runs from May 10 through June 3 every Thursday through Sunday at the MET, located in the historic FSK hotel at 31 W Patrick Street.
"We've been talking about creating a 'real live variety show' for a while and I think Gené hit on the idea of one that had the country-Hee Haw-Opry feel to it," said Artistic Director Tad Janes. "So the idea was out there. In February I got together a group of ensemble members that were interested in the project. At that time, we watched television shows like Hee Haw, Laugh In, Carol Burnette, watched Youtube videos ofThe Grand Ole Opry and Ed Sullivan. I wrote down the 'map' of a Hee Haw show, meaning their format: start with a song, go to three sketches, another song, comedy song, etc. We used that format as an influence on our 'mapping' of the show. And we started writing sketches and original songs. Each of the early rehearsals were workshops on sketch development, writing exercises and brainstorming, some of which will end up on stage, most thrown out. Some were just used as inspiration to go home and write new sketches."
The talented cast creating the show includes a mix of MET company members likeGené Fouché, Ashley Hall, Julie Herber, Tad Janes, JoAnn Lee, Matt Lee, Allison Lepelletier, Mak Nickols, Ken Poisson and Reiner Prochaska with some new faces and MET veterans like Jon Paul Duvall, Larry Fellows, Joe Jalette, Courtney McLaughlin & Sam Whalen. As if those fifteen performers weren't enough for the intimate MET theatre they will be joined by guest players Jeanine Collins and Rona Mensah.
"With this show, we had the idea of bringing in a different guest host, musical group, and specialty act each week," continued Janes. "So I began booking bluegrass and country acts, comedians, yodelers, ballroom dancers; whoever I could find." What Janes found was an eclectic array of talent beginning with the shows house band, Silent Old Mnts., made up of MET ensemble member Thom Huenger along with Pat Acuña, Andrew Bromhal, Sam Whalen, and Steve Younkins. While serving as the house band for all 16 performances, the Silent Old Mnts. will also be featured the weekend of May 17-20. The other featured musical acts include the Midnite Bluegrass Boys (May 10-13), the acoustic duo Once in a Blue Moon featuring Chris Adams and Jessica Bowers (May 24-27), the rootsy, screamin' swing duo The Galt Line (May 31 & June 1) featuringWillie Gammell and Blythe Crawford, and The Jug Band (May 31 & June 2). They are comprised of Eric Ward, Ed Morrell, JoAnna Shapiro, Jim Merry, Andy Ward, Leah Ermarth, Butch Chalkley, Stephen Lindell, Todd Anderson, and John Lockney, but ironically enough not one of them is actually a jug player.
In true variety style show style the special guests aren't limited to musical acts. The All New Grand Ole Hee Haw Hootenanny Hoedown Jamboree will also feature the hilariously nomadic lifelong friends know as the Traveling Dingleberrys (May 10, 24-25, 27), the comedic musician Denny Grizzle (May 11-13) and the comic stylings of solo acts including Joe Costa (May 26), Kristen Trump (May 17-20) and more.
The All New Grand Ole Hee Haw Hootenanny Hoedown Jamboree runs from May 10 through June 3 every Thursday through Saturday at 8pm and Sundays at 7pm (May 13 & June 3rd) and 2pm (May 20 & 27). The May 20th performance will include a post-show talk-back with the cast, directors, and creators of the show. The opening will be celebrated on May 13 at 6pm with a pre-show reception catered by The Greene Turtle preceding the performance at 7pm. Tickets are $15 - $24 (except the $5 preview performance on 5/10) and can be purchased online at marylandensemble.org, over the phone at 301-694-4744 or in person at our MET box office. The show is sponsored byHolistic Health Associates.