Rhinestone Cowgirl: A Tribute to Dolly Parton

Note:  I originally saw this show in 2011.  Dolly Parton is coming back around — you can see this show on the following upcoming dates:
King’s Wharf Theatre – Friday, September 28 at 8:00pm, Saturday, September 29 at 2:00pm
Drayton Festival Theatre – Saturday, November 3 at 2:00pm & 8:00pm 

leisa way as dolly

Conceived by Leisa Way
Music arranged by Bruce Ley
Performed by Leisa Way and The Wayward Wind: Bruce Ley, Dave Wilson Randall Kempf, Kim Ratcliffe, Aaron Solomon.
Victoria Playhouse Petrolia
September 6 to 17, 2011
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

Here You Come Again

“It costs a lot of money to look this cheap.” That is just one of the many ‘Dolly-isms’ that are sprinkled throughout Rhinestone Cowgirl, now on stage at Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia. In a sparkling, fringed red dress and a big headfull of long blonde curls, Leisa Way becomes Dolly Parton, singing all the country star’s hits and spreading her wit.

Way’s Dolly Parton show is more than just another tribute concert. She sings Dolly’s songs, and then tells anecdotes and facts about Dolly’s life between numbers. As a Dolly ambassador, she makes full use of Dolly’s sense of humour, delivering the funny stories with perfect comedic timing. But while the tales are good and they keep the audience interested, it’s Leisa’s voice that has the house spellbound.

Way’s petite stature contrasts sharply with her big powerhouse voice. Her smile is nearly as wide as her vocal range. She can hit all the low husky notes in Here You Come Again, and then belt the high notes in I Will Always Love You.

Way takes us through Dolly’s life from “rags to riches to rhinestones”. Dolly was one of a family of 12 kids, born in poverty in the Tennessee Mountains. She had a knack for entertaining and song writing at a young age. Way sings Coat of Many Colours illustrating how poor the family was. Dolly’s big break came when she joined Porter Wagoner’s TV show. In 1966, Dolly married Carl Dean: he has always avoided publicity and 45 years later they are still married. But despite what appears to be a good marriage, Dolly performs many songs about the tribulations of love. Way sings a resounding rendition Jolene. Another crowd pleaser is Why’d You Come In Here Lookin’ Like That.

Way captures the audience’s attention with Dolly’s moving ballad, Down from Dover. There’s fun with the hit 9 to 5, from the movie of the same name. There are good old hillbilly-sounding songs, country hits, pop hits, and a rousing gospel set. Certainly something for everyone.

Of course, there are the requisite jokes about Dolly’s bust line. Dolly has tiny feet in those sparkling high-heeled boots – but she explains her small feet by saying that nothing grows in the shade. Way also talks about her greatest assets – which are, of course, the big blonde wigs. “People ask how long it takes to do my hair. I don’t know, I’m never there.” Dolly also explains “I`m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I`m not dumb… and I know for sure that I`m not really blonde.”

A talented five-man band, The Wayward Wind, provides music and back-up vocals. Fiddle player Aaron Solomon takes centre stage as Dolly Parton’s mentor Porter Wagoner and bass player Randall Kempf joins Leisa as Kenny Rogers singing their famous duet “Islands in the Stream”.

Way brought her popular Patsy Cline show to VPP last year, but this year’s tribute to Dolly is even more entertaining and provides a wonderful opportunity to showcase Way’s amazing vocal talent and comedic skills.

Rhinestone Cowgirl continues with eight shows a week at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until September 17. Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or 519-882-1221 for tickets.

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