By Dave Rogers

For The Record

Jennifer McConnell and Mindy Currie got a kick out of their previous participation in the Follies, so the two Service League of Orange members decided it was time to get the kids involved.
The two women had company Saturday night in the persons of Madison McConnell, 10, and Paige McKee, 9, as they performed a corny comedy skit during auditions for “A Hee Haw Salute” held at the First United Methodist Church.
“Follies is a lot of fun,” Jennifer McCollum said.
“The community participates and gets involved and makes it a big community event.”
The 2017 Follies will be presented at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 29 at the Lutcher Theater.
It’s such an undertaking that it is held only once every three years. The Service League plows the proceeds back into their community service projects, which include car seats for newborns, a visual arts program for school children and “Elder Fun” recreational activities at area senior living centers.
The idea of putting on a stage show based on the highly successful TV show syndicated out of Nashville in the 1970s and 80s has been a hit.
“Several years ago I did a children’s version for the Orange Community Players and it was very successful,” said Codie Vasquez, Follies chairperson.
“We sold out every seat. People came who didn’t even have kids in the program, because they wanted to see Hee Haw.”
The variety show that was Hee Haw on TV – comedy, music, singing and dancing – should work well in Orange.
“Everyone remembers Hee Haw,” Vasquez said. “I felt the nostalgia would get everybody involved. Plus, we have a lot of local country musicians – professional and armchair musicians – and this will get them involved.”
The directors like what they saw at Saturday’s auditions.
“I thought it was incredible,” Rico Vasquez said. “I think we’ve got some great people, a lot of talent.”
Rico Vasquez is the son of Codie Vasquez. He and his wife, Cydney, are directing Follies 2017. Seems the whole Vasquez family has deep ties to the Orange Community Players and the area’s performing community.
A pair of Little Cypress-Mauriceville grads, Rico and Cydney recently worked together on OCP’s production of “Lend Me A Tenor” and will be directing “Moon Over Buffalo” for OCP this fall.
Besides the many talented community theater performers in the area, Rico Vasquez said his plans are to involve a number of local celebrities.
“We’re hoping to get people like the Sheriff [Keith Merritt] and [longtime Tracy Byrd sideman] Britt Godwin,” Rico Vasquez said.
Bob and Kimberly Manning, Music City pros with the Grand Ole Opry on their resumes, are helping the show’s musicians.
“I’m confident we’ve got people to fill all the parts,” Rico Vasquez said. “And we’ll have all the characters you’re familiar with: Minnie Pearl, Grandpa Jones, Lulu, String Bean.
“We’re excited.”



Photos by Dave Rogers