‘Hee Haw’ second serving hits the dinner theater table at Willow Leaves
Cornpone Country gets some credibility when down-to-earth writer and actress Naomi Fleetwood-Pyle performs an original rap in Kornfield Kounty of all places this weekend. Such a mix unfolds at the start of the presentation of A Hee Haw Sequel: A Second Helping at the Actors Studio of Hope this weekend.
The original course was served to a sold-out audience a year ago, but didn’t contain anything like this partial verse with verve:
I’m Naomi and not the model Campbell
It’s Archie, and words will get confused.
Homemade cornfield and hay bales
We hope you like our set.
Free-flowing Fleetwood-Pyle is bringing back a bit of the old and new with this dinner theater show, held Friday through Sunday at the Willow Leaves of Hope, 326 Jackson St. in Hope. She pokes fun at the long-running TV series, but always with respect, as she, like millions of others, loved the redneck’s hilarity and good times.
“At Actors Studio, we know the demographics of our audience very well,” she said.
That means older, rural ticket buyers who grew up watching shows like Hee Haw, which feature a collection of bad jokes and great performers from Roy Clark to Roy Acuff.
“People need to know this isn’t the same show as before,” Fleetwood-Pyle said.
New vocalists include Dawn Mayes singing tunes like “Stand By Your Man,” “Delta Dawn,” and “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Then there are the cloggers like LaGena DeRossett who will bang around in the audience.
“She’s not at all afraid of making a fool of herself if it makes people laugh,” Fleetwood-Pyle said.
Area singers Kendall Hadler and Jimmy Bennett will perform as Buck Owens and Roy Clark. And local actress Nancy Worland returns as Minnie Pearl.
Also, Falicia Whited, the original show’s set designer, has returned with more set pieces for a backwoods vibe. Though a bit young to appreciate the original series of Hee Haw, she does recall episodes at her grandparents’ some weekends in their childhood. So she can still understand his popularity today.
“Honestly, I think it was such a cornball and straight-forward comedy for people who grew up on it and watched it for 20 years,” Whited said. “I think they recognize the nostalgia easily. And it’s such a part of country music culture.”
Whited also appears on this show to sing two KT Oslin numbers: “Hey Bobby” and “’80s Ladies”.
She’s watched her share of YouTube videos to try and match the performer’s body language and more.
“I’ll never be completely satisfied with that vocally,” said Whited, who has repeatedly said she’s a reticent stage singer. “Her voice was really very soulful and I don’t feel like my voice is as strong as hers. But I’m happy we chose these songs.”
Fleetwood-Pyle acknowledged that almost any Hee Haw-themed show with such a large on-site fan base could sell out.
“I love all the silly and cheesy jokes,” she said. “…And I know people still respond to that old, down-to-earth humor.”
About the broadcast
What: Actors Studio of Hope’s presentation of A Hee Haw Sequel: A Second Helping.
If: Friday to Sunday.
Where: Willow Leaves of Hope, 326 Jackson St. in Hope.