Those attending the 64th-annual "Roarin' Through the Decades" minstrel show, sponsored by the Adena Lions Club and the many talented people from that community and other areas nearby, were treated last weekend to a trip through the decades from the 1950s through present time.
It was a delightful trip starting with songs from my era up to a conclusion by Drew Case on "The Evolution of Dance"
Dustin Kinsey, music director and minstrel chairman, gave the welcome and said it was a real treat to have held the shows for 63 past years and at present at the former Buckeye West High School and later an elementary school. "As long as it is open, we will be here," he said.
LET THE SHOW BEGIN — Awaiting curtain call for the 64th-annual Adena Lions Club “Roarin’ Through the Decades” minstrel were, from left, Dustin Kinsey, music director and minstrel chairman; Jay Hopkins and Bill Ralston, back stage assistants; and John Parkinson, a Lions member who has been a part of the production for all shows and has been the interlocutor for more years than he can remember.
-- Esther McCoy
PICTURE PERFECT — Darrin Young, Lions president and one of the endmen, takes time to pose with Leo the Lion and two enchanted children, Catherine and Ray Konkoleski. Actually, their mom, Laura, is in the Lion suit.
-- Esther McCoy
TICKET-TAKER — Don Moore was the ticket-taker welcoming Amanda Roach to the 64th-annual Lions Club minstrel. Her son, Jason Roach, played guitar and trumpet for the Buckeye Local Jazz Band, which played prior to the show and for the “Sweet Caroline” number for the 1960s segment.
RAISING FUNDS — Phil Wallace, left, and Jack Moore, Lions members, sold fundraiser tickets for the Lions to help those in need of glasses and for many community projects.
-- Esther McCoy
THRILLER — Camryn and Kenna Case and Jenna and Madison Young were the ghouls, along with having monsters roaming around the stage to the strains of the 1980s song “Thriller” to start act two of the show.
-- Esther McCoy
He said the show was dedicated to Alva Kinney who died earlier in the year. Kinney was a member since 1995 and held just about every office. He took part in the minstrels and had 18 years of perfect attendance.
Kinsey introduced John Parkinson, interlocutor for more than 30 years, who has been with the show since its beginning. Along with introducing the 26 acts, he portrayed Ed McMahon to Dustin Kinsey's "Carnac the Magnificent" in a Johnny Carson skit from the 1980s as well.
There were chorus ladies in pink felt poodle skirts and saddle shoes dancing about to several of the 1950s tunes.
Roger Warren and his wife, Marg, looked like teens again as they did the jitterbug to "Rock around the Clock." He came out playing the sax to a few bars of the song and sang with the endmen to "In the Still of the Night" as well. I was really impressed with that singing.
Rich Steffl wore a miner's hat and sang "16 Tons" just like Tennessee Ernie Ford would have done, and Rich Bolock must have taken a few lessons from Johnny Cash when he sang "Folsom Prison Blues."
The Buckeye Local Jazz Band played "Sweet Caroline" to start the 1960s era. Chris Krahel sang "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" while wearing a tropical shirt." The endmen did the twist, and Case and Young were featured dancers in suma wrestler outfits, along with Dennis Kinsey, Rich Steffl, Warren and Mike Zonkoski. There were some take- downs and rolling around the floor and an effort to get back on their feet in the production.
The Warrens appeared again singing "Sounds of Silence."
In the 1970s segment, Jessica Harr, dressed in a gold and orange sparkly jump suit with flowing sleeves and bell bottoms, sang "Waterloo."
Dan Jones, who was singer, guitar and fiddle player with the house band, sang and played guitar to "Tiny Dancer" and his young daughter, Rhiannon, dressed in a pink ballet costume danced about. She came over to daddy twice to put her arm on his knee and look out into the audience and later put her chin in her hand on his knee and looked up at daddy.
Then came the "on- pins-and-needles" portion, where once again Dennis Kinsey performed in a skit that made the viewer wonder if an ambulance might be pulling up for an encore. I have seen him swing on a rope across the stage, stand on the bottom side of a see-saw plank and have someone drop something heavy on the other side to send him catapulting into space, and one I didn't see was when he had his hair cut with a chain saw.
The trick this year was to portray Evel Knievel and attempt to ride a bicycle that had been dressed up to look like a motorcycle with a windshield down the steps of the auditorium. He was in the white Knievel jumpsuit and took the seat of the bike while Young announced that he was going to jump over a school bus - while laying a toy bus on the steps. He announced the same for a fire truck, railroad car even a stuffed skunk -all toys. Then a plank was put on the auditorium steps and a count-down was begun.
Dennis went speeding down the plank and up the aisle with great abandon and great success, to the wild clapping of the audience. I wonder what he will think up next year.
The song "Thriller," sung by the chorus, had a troupe of ghouls featured with white faces and black circled eyes, wearing gauze strips and walking with very jerky movements. There were Lion members in ugly masks and meandering about in the aisle as well.
The ghouls came up the aisle, and one stopped at John Parkinson Jr.'s seat, leaned over and hissed in his face. If it had been me, there would have been a loud shriek.
Dennis Kinsey then let his tender side show when he and his wife, Pam, danced and sang to "I Had the Time of My Life." He did the pretend tracing on her body with his hand, like Patrick Swayze, with the entire chorus and cast giving a big "Woooo."
Mike Zonkoski sang "Coming to America" as a 1980s segment; Young sang "Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On;" the chorus sang "We Are the World"; and JoAnn Connor sang "Black Velvet" with lots of feeling.
A very touching moment for me was when Martha Packer sang "Wind Beneath My Wings," my all-time favorite song. When Dan Jones started to play the fiddle during a part of the song, I about lost it.
I mentioned before about the Carnac segment, where Kinsey, in a velvet turban and cape holds an envelope to his forehead to foretell what is within. I don't remember many of the questions and answers but here are a few of them:
"What is the Yellow Brick Road?" His answer was "The road to the urologist." Another was "What does praise the Lord and pass the ammunition mean?" He answered "What is said after swallowing a grenade." Another that sticks in my mind is "What is zip-a-de-do-dah?" Kinsey's answer was "What you say to John Parkinson when his pants are unzipped."
When it got to the 1990s, I was lost about the music. Rob Whinnery, one of the newest members, sang "River of Dreams;" Lauren Florence, "Baby, Baby;" and Julie Erwin, "Baggage Claim."
Someone who should get the courage award is Drew Case. He ended the talent portion with "The Evolution of Dance." While a snippet of a song from each of the eras played, he stood and danced for more than 5 minutes to the jitterbug, pony, stroll, caterpillar, twist, macarena, and I think there was a bit of twerking in there. He was so drained at doing the strenuous dances at the end, he simply went to the side of the stage, sank down and drank half a bottle of water. And he had to do the same thing for the performance the next night. You go, Drew!
Lloyd Hutchison, Lion president, offered special thanks to all who came out to support the cast and who helped in other ways. It was noted that the program had 240 ads, and the audience was asked to support those who purchased them.
The background for the stage was done in bright colors, and the music notes, sunglasses and a few other designs stood out in a 3-D effect. Lynn Sweeney and her designers did a great job on the backdrop.
The Harrisville Volunteer Fire Co. was thanked for directing traffic and parking cars, and West Elementary Principal Willie Luther was thanked for his hospitality.
The show ended with the chorus singing "So long it's been good to know you."
(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is food editor and a staff columnist for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)