Humor, hit songs and three women with dreams and determination make a winning combination for “Honky Tonk Angels,” another toe-tapping play by Ted Swindley, author of “Always Patsy Cline.”
Produced by the Downriver Actors Guild, the show runs 7:30 p.m. Jan. 26 and 27 and Feb. 2 and 3, and 3 p.m. Jan. 28 and Feb. 4 at the Catherine A. Daly Theatre on the Avenue, 2656 Biddle, Wyandotte.
Directed by Michele Devins of Southgate, with music direction by Wendy Biggs Fichter of Allen Park, the show features Kimmy Elliott of Canton Township as Darlene and Taylor residents Debbie Aue as Angela and Melanie Aue as Sue Ellen. Melanie Aue is also helping with the vocals, and Debbie Aue and Elliott are also choreographing.
Devins said the show is about three Texas women from different backgrounds who share a dream to become country singing stars, with the first act set in their respective homes until they meet on a bus, at which time they team up to become the Honky Tonk Angels. She said the second act is set in a bar where they perform their show.
“They talk to the audience, actually go out into the audience, and dance with some of the men,” Devins said.
She said not all of the songs are country songs, and the show includes “I Will Always Love You,” written by Dolly Parton and performed by Whitney Houston in “The Bodyguard,” and “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” written by Lee Hazlewood and recorded by Nancy Sinatra.
“It’s not all exclusively country, but it has some country undertones,” Devins said. “The music was written mostly by Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette, so it does have some country background to it, but it’s not real ‘yee-haw’ country.”
She said the women’s story is about them deciding to leave the lives they have, with which they are not content, and following their lifelong dream.
The three main characters are Darlene, who has been taking care of her widowed father and has deferred her own needs; Angela, who is married with six children; and Sue Ellen, who works for a chauvinist pig.
“It’s a really good show, and they sound really great,” Devins said. “The live band will have piano, drums, fiddle, and pedal steel, bass and lead guitars.”
Devins said there are also songs that tug at the heartstrings, like Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billy Joe.”
Fichter said there is gospel music in the show, including Albert Brumley’s “I’ll Fly Away” and Ada Habershon’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”
Fichter said the women, who sing solos, duets and trios, are “powerhouses.” Elliot is a soprano, Melanie Aue sings second soprano and Debbie Aue sings alto.
“There is one song called ‘Calling All Angels’ that is just a beautiful song,” Fichter said. “They blend so nicely.”
She said she also likes hearing them sing Tanya Tucker’s “Delta Dawn.”
“I remember that as a kid,” Fichter said. “I only remembered the chorus before we started working on this, but now I know the whole song. It brings back those memories.”
Fichter said it is a feel good, upbeat show.
“There are a few songs that are more lullabyish, but most of them are just very upbeat and positive,” she said. “There will be lots of toe-tapping.”
Debbie Aue said that while the show isn’t well-known, the music is. She said it features music of Wynette, Parton and Lynn.
“There’s a lot of gospel and classic country,” she said. “So if they like ‘Delta Dawn,’ and ‘Nine to Five,’ ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter,’ and ‘Stand By Your Man,’ they are going to love the show.”
Debbie Aue said it is a fun show, with humor and a wonderful message.
“You leave humming the tunes,” she said. “You will know almost every song in the show, and that is always fun.”
Debbie Aue said many of the songs are sung in three part harmony.
“It was a hand-picked cast, specifically for the vocals,” she said. “The blend is amazing. It will sound like we’ve been singing together for years.”
Elliott said her favorite song that her character sings is Bobbie Gentry’s “Fancy,” which was also popularized by Reba McEntire.
“It’s one of my mom’s favorite songs, so I am excited to sing it for her,” Elliott said.
Elliott grew up in Kansas, and said she listened to a lot of country music when she lived there.
She said when she promotes the show to non-country music fans, she emphasizes the familiarity of the songs.
“It’s a bunch of songs that everyone knows and they’ll clap along with,” Elliott said.
Devins said people won’t want to miss the show.
“Even if you’re not a country fan, you definitely want to come and see this show because the talent on the stage will make you a country fan if you’re not when you come in,” Devins said.
Tickets are $16, with a $3 discount for seniors and students. For more information or to order, call 734-407-7020 or go to downriveractorsguild.net.