‘Gone Country’ cast ready to rollWORTHINGTON — Yeehaw! Get ready for a variety show with real variety — in its performers, that is. The roughly 25 singers and dancers in “Gone Country” range in age from 8 to 72, come from a dozen different area communities and perform songs featuring artists from old time Cou
By: Laura Grevas, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Yeehaw! Get ready for a variety show with real variety — in its performers, that is. The roughly 25 singers and dancers in “Gone Country” range in age from 8 to 72, come from a dozen different area communities and perform songs featuring artists from old time Country Music Hall of Famer Floyd Cramer to modern day star Taylor Swift.
The performers are retired country crooners and Dance Academy girls (who wear name-brand sweatshirts to rehearsal but tip their cowboy hats with the best of them). They are also middle school teachers, funeral home directors and contractors by day, who introduce some good old-fashioned foot stompin’ at night.
“It’s remarkable that all these people have these day jobs, and they can come in and entertain 1,000 people on the weekend,” said Margaret Hurlbut Vosburgh, auditorium manger. “When we bring people in like this, the citizen becomes the artist. … This might be their only opportunity to showcase their talents other than the church choir.”
The show has become so popular that its organizers did not have auditions to draw performers this year. Vosburgh said aspiring country stars — both newcomers and “Gone Country” veterans — come to them.
The show, now in its fourth year, maintains a variety show-style format, with Stephanie Winters as Minnie Pearl providing some comedic emceeing between acts and the Sideline Band (Bill Shoup, Cindy Anderson, Ken Clark and Paul Larson) providing live accompaniment to performers.
“Gone Country” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Memorial Auditorium — and many of the show’s veterans can’t wait to get out the guitars, big belts and cowboy hats of all shapes and sizes.
“It's fun to be a part of a show with a variety of local talent,” said Rita Beecroft, of Worthington, who will sing “Eighteen Wheels” by Kathy Mattea. She practices by “listening to the CD over and over again,” she laughed.
The event will also feature the Prairie Thunder Cloggers in their third “Gone Country” appearance. The group of women, whose youngest member is 8-year-old Kasen White, will perform traditional Appalachian clogging to “We’re from the Country” by Tracy Byrd.
“It’s our first time actually performing to live music instead of a CD. That’s exciting for us,” said clogger Judie Johnson.
“We’ve got new steps that nobody’s ever seen before,” promised Doreen Milstead.
The women meet once a week to practice as a group and joke that they practice individually every day on their kitchen floors.
Eldon Larson from Fulda, blue plaid shirt and all, will perform “Heartaches by the Number” by Ray Price and “Mountain Music” by Alabama, and students from the Dance Academy will dance along. He said he loves working with the Sideline Band, which gives him a chance to perform in a more mellow capacity.
“They’re all such talented musicians. I’ve been in many bands and (performing in the show) isn’t so intense as when you’re with the band up there for three or four hours. Just being with people backstage is really fun.”
Tickets for “Gone Country” are available at the door or at the auditorium box office, which is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; phone 376-9101.