Hogan’s Hoedown

Yee Haw! Hogie takes the Stage  

To the delight of the Petrolia audience, David Hogan owns the stage in the latest production Hogan’s Hoedown. Affectionately known as Hogie, he tells the audience that he spent over 32 years as an actor with several seasons at the Stratford and Shaw Festivals.  For the last eight years he’s served as Victoria Playhouse’s Co-artistic Director, along with David Rogers.  He confesses that he hasn’t been on stage in 13 years.  But then he immediately convinces the audience that those 13 years have been a serious lapse as he jokes, sings, and dances his way into their hearts.

In the typical style of the two Davids’ musical revues Hogan’s Hoedown is a set list of familiar country and western tunes, peppered with some corny jokes and lively dance numbers.  A talented cast of singers and musicians along with an ensemble of young dancers fill out the roster.

To kick things off, Alex Baerg plays guitar and sings “Country Roads”, and the popular Mark Payne pounds the keyboards with “I’m a Honky-Tonk Man.”

One of my favourite moments occurs when all the cast members play guitar (some better than others) for a fun rendition of “King of the Road”.  Even the marvelous Dee Klinger, who usually stays in the back behind his dark glasses, comes forward with his amazing guitar skills.

Callandra Dendias, the Victoria Playhouse’s Program Co-ordinator, is on stage for this show, doubling up on her duties.  She is always an audience favourite when she performs in their country music revues, and once again, she doesn’t disappoint with “Wayward Wind”, “Tennessee Waltz”, and her famous yodeling skills.

Fiddler extraordinaire Jesse Grandmont is a perfect fit for a hoedown.  He entertains with “Orange Blossom Special” while Cameron Francis does some very fast step dancing.

My favourite is a medley of tunes from the great Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Oklahoma. Songs such as “Surrey with the Fringe on Top”, “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning”, and “People Will Say We’re in Love” are presented beautifully.  Also borrowed from musical theatre is a great “Footloose” number with Hogan belting out the song and the ensemble letting loose with fast-moving feet.

A lively rendition of “Dueling Banjos” gets every musical instrument involved – except a banjo, strangely enough.  But it’s certainly good fun to see everyone taking a turn in this rivalry.

The show’s most heartwarming moment comes with the beautiful ballad “I Hope You Dance” where Hogan and Emma Lee dance together with inspiring grace.

The evening wraps up with Hogan’s final costume change when he becomes a rhinestone cowboy for the Glen Campbell medley.

The choreography is excellent, and credit goes to Assistant Director and Choreographer Kerry Gage.  The ensemble’s tap dance number is incredible, and throughout the show, all the movement is lively and eye-catching.  The only distraction is the keyboard moving around too frequently:  it’s not easy to choreograph a piano and probably not necessary either.

The only concern marring the show on opening night was sound problems.  We couldn’t hear some of the singers earlier in the evening with instruments drowning them out.  Then later mics were loudly popping and crackling.  I trust these problems will be immediately remedied.

After 13 years away from the stage, Hogan shows he still has it – he can certainly keep up with the young dance team, shaking those fringed pants.  He has all the moves, sings his heart out, and acts as ringmaster in this very fast-paced circus they call a hoedown.

Hogan’s Hoedown continues at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until September 22.  Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or 519-882-1221 or visit www.thevpp.ca for tickets.

Photo: Cast of Hogan’s Hoedown. Photo by Diane O’Dell.

Hogan’s Hoedown
Directed by David Rogers
Assistant Director/Choreographer Kerry Gage
Musical Direction by Mark Payne
Performed by David Hogan, Alex Baerg, Mikayla Branco, Megan Dallan, Callandra Dendias, Cameron Francis, Jesse Grandmont, Jonathan Gysbers, Dee Klinger, Erick Larson, Emma Lee, Mark Payne, David Robilliard, Jacob Sheffield.
Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia
Sept.3 to 22, 2019
Reviewed by Mary Alderson


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