Dust off your cowboy boots and mosey on over to Grand Bend for Kings & Queens of Country, a hand-clappin’, foot-stompin’ theatrical salute to the extraordinary artists who put Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry on the map. This country music extravaganza is guaranteed to raise the roof of the Huron Country Playhouse II from June 13 to June 30.
After playing to sold-out crowds during its debut run in St. Jacobs last season, this wildly popular production now takes Grand Bend audiences to the honky tonks and saloons of country music’s glorious past for a nostalgic trip to a simpler time… when hayrides, road shows, and dance halls reverberated with the sound of steel guitars. Fusing elements of classic country, western, gospel, bluegrass – and a touch of comedy – Kings & Queens of Country is a wistful walk down memory lane.
And what a walk it is! Featuring over 100 unforgettable songs by such distinctive artists as Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Charley Pride, Merle Haggard, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, and many, many more, this lively revue goes back to the very roots of country music.
“Kings & Queens of Country is the type of show that gets audiences tapping their feet and singing along with the artists on stage,” says Alex Mustakas, Artistic Director of Drayton Entertainment. “If you’re a country fan, you will absolutely love this show. And if you’re not, you’ll become one – everyone can relate to the memorable lyrics and tuneful melodies.”
Conceived, written and directed by Mustakas, Kings & Queens of Country is a spirited tribute to the people who ultimately defined country music. He is joined by a stellar creative team including Music DirectorSteve Thomas, Choreographer Jackie Mustakas, Set Designer Simon Day, Costume Designer Jessica Pembleton and Lighting Designer Lyle Franklin. Orchestrations and Vocal Arrangements are by Nicole Gusé.
An exceptionally talented company has been assembled to breathe new life into the golden age of country music, including Al Braatz, Tyler Check, Michael Cox, Kevin Dempsey, Chelsey Duplak, J. Sean Elliott, Earl Filsinger, Kelly Holiff and Steve Thomas.
These versatile performers do it all – they sing, they dance, they play multiple instruments. The barrage of talent on stage is showcased as cast members pay homage to the ‘Kings and Queens of Country’ performing songs made famous by a variety of music icons.
The talented men conjure nostalgia with impressive performances of hits like Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee,” Roger Miller’s “King of the Road,” Hank Williams’ “Hey, Good Lookin’,” John Denver’s “Country Roads,” Glen Campbell’s “Like a Rhinestone Cowboy” and many more. They also showcase fantastic harmonies covering such country classics as the Statler Brothers’ “Hello Mary Lou,” Porter Wagner’s “Green Green Grass of Home,” and Bob Wills’ “Rose of San Antone,” among others.
The ladies let their terrific voices soar on timeless tunes like Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter”, Dottie West’s “Country Sunshine,” Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man,” Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” and many more.
While Kings & Queens of Country is a celebration of music, it also boasts a healthy dose of comedy. J. Sean Elliott delivers charm and laughs throughout the show as the goofy narrator, Wilbur, weaving songs together with humour and singing a few tunes of his own. He’s especially funny in comic ditties like “How to be a Country Star” and “May the Bird of Paradise Fly up Your Nose.” Elliott has appeared in many musicals and comedies across the country including numerous productions for Drayton Entertainment. Last season, he won rave reviews for his performance as record producer Sam Phillips in Million Dollar Quartet.
Al Braatz made his Drayton Entertainment debut last season as Asher in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; he will play Prince Eric in Drayton Entertainment’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, later this summer. Last season, Tyler Check won critical and audience praise for his performance as Carl Perkins in Million Dollar Quartet, and Michael Cox has appeared in numerous musicals across the country including Les Misérables for Drayton Entertainment.
Kevin Dempsey is a staple in the Toronto music scene and has played drums in various Drayton Entertainment productions including Red Rock Diner, Anything Goes, A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline, Big Band Legends, and Swing!, among others.
Earl Filsinger has toured Canada and the U.S. as a lead guitar player in numerous bands; he has also played for various musicals including Man of La Mancha, Evita, and Big River, among others.
Kelly Holiff appeared as Miss Stacey in the Charlottetown Festival production of Anne of Green Gables, as well as in a variety of other productions across Ontario. In addition to Braatz, Holiff will appear in Disney’sThe Little Mermaid as Ursula, the sea witch. Newcomer Chelsey Duplak previously appeared as Aunt Em in the North American Tour of The Wizard of Oz.
Steve Thomas is a well-known composer, pianist and Music Director who has worked on a variety of productions across North America for Theatre Aquarius, The Elgin Theatre, Lighthouse Festival Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse, Charlottetown Festival, among others.
Kings & Queens of Country is proudly sponsored by Commercial Print Craft Ltd. Media Sponsors are BX 93, Country 104 and Country 104.9 in London. The Design Sponsor is MicroAge Basics. The 2018 Season Media Sponsor is CTV.
Kings & Queens of Country is on stage at the Huron Country Playhouse II from June 13 to June 30. Tickets are $46 for Adults and $27 for Youth under 20 years of age. Tickets for groups of 20 or more and select Discount Dates are $37. HST is applicable to all ticket prices. Tickets can be purchased online at www.huroncountryplayhouse.com or by calling the Box Office at 519-238-6000 or toll free at 1-855-drayton (372-9866).