Rhinestone Cowgirl: Celebrating Dolly Parton


Reviewed by Mary Alderson

“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, which returns to the stage at the Globus Theatre near Bobcaygeon October 17 to 21. In a sparkling, fringed red dress and a big headful of long blonde curls, Leisa Way becomes Dolly Parton, singing all the country star’s hits and spreading her wit.

Way has performed at the Globus in recently in two of her other concert shows: Rock  ‘n’ Roll is Here to Stay in 2022 and The Great American Songbook in 2021. She is bringing back her Dolly Parton show to the Globus stage, nine years after its first visit there.  I have been fortunate enough to see her Rhinestone Cowgirl and Sweet Dreams: Patsy Cline at Victoria Playhouse in Petrolia, and Oh, Canada We Sing for Thee;  Across the Pond: The British Invasion; and Opry Gold on the beach in Grand Bend.  Her latest show Early Morning Rain: The Legend of Gordon Lightfoot was obviously very popular in Orillia, as well as Port Stanley and other locations this year, as she paid tribute to the late, great singer/songwriter.

Way’s Dolly Parton show is not 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 57 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. Bruce Ley (piano), Fred Smith (guitar, vocals and sings the Kenny Rogers duet), Bobby Prochaska (bass, vocals and he sings the Porter Wagoner duet), Don Reid (drums and vocals), and Alexander George (fiddle) are excellent musicians and singers.

Rhinestone Cowgirl runs October 17th to 21st at The Globus Theatre in the Lakeview Arts Barn, south of Bobcaygeon. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office at 705-738-2037 or 1-800-304-7897 or visit https://www.lakeviewartsbarn.com/globus-current-season

Photo:  Leisa Way in Rhinestone Cowgirl. 

Rhinestone Cowgirl: Celebrating Dolly Parton
Conceived by Leisa Way
Music arranged by Bruce Ley
Performed by Leisa Way and The Wayward Wind: Bruce Ley, Fred Smith, Bobby Prochaska, Don Reid, Alexander George
Globus Theatre, Lakeview Arts Barn, Bobcaygeon
October 17 to 21, 2023
Reviewed by Mary Alderson
Note: This review was based on previously seeing this show at another venue.



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