You can bet your 10-gallon hat that The Lasting Impressions’ latest dinner theater musical will force boredom to hurriedly ride off into the sunset, pardner.
Director/producer Donna Browne has birthed an original script and compiled a generous mix of 32 old-style western and gospel tunes that she compiled for the show, “Chuck Wagon Chow-Wow!”, playing Friday through Sunday at Mill Race Center in Columbus. Nostalgic material ranges from Roy Rogers to Tex Ritter tunes.
So audience members can expect more cowboy hats on stage than at a Texas rodeo. In fact, organizers are encouraging ticket buyers — a maximum of about 200 per show — to be part of the theme and don Western duds and well, all for the chance to win prizes for the best outfits.
“We want them to get into the spirit of things,” Browne said.
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A growing audience has been a part of The Lasting Impressions’ story for the past few years. The group’s popularity has grown to the point that nearly every presentation sells out, Browne said. At press time, tickets still were available for the weekend.
“One reason (for the popularity) might be that we’re the only dinner theater in Columbus,” Browne said. “And all our shows include drama, song and dance.”
Plus, Browne added that about 60 percent of the audience members are age 50-plus.
“And they tell us that they really relate to the music,” Browne said.
In “Chuck Wagon Chow-Wow!” classics such as “Happy Trails,” “Home On the Range” and “Don’t Fence Me In” take center stage.
The show is dedicated to the memory of Janene Plumm, who was among the founders of the senior troupe dating to 2000, and also co-wrote segments of this current production. She died Dec. 25. Related to that salute, the Impressions will include a pre-dinner tune, “Bessie the Heifer,” a playful song that Plumm introduced to her stage peers several years ago.
A bit of added sentiment unfolds with the show this weekend in that this marks the last production for the troupe’s voice instructor, Sarah Kittle, who is moving to North Carolina.
Yet, Browne loves the fact that The Lasting Impressions can make an impact with more than vocal prowess.
For example, cast members John and Geneva Foster are known for their constructive ways at their house that they have substantially remodeled through the years. The pair teamed their creativity to take old appliance boxes, PVC pipe and scrap lumber to build the back portion of a chow wagon on a minimalist budget for the show’s set.
“My wife is the artistic brain of things. She’s very creative. Then I put the nuts and bolts to it,” John Foster said. “It’s amazing what you can do with a little paint, some cardboard and some (plank) one-by-twos.”
For husband Foster, the show’s musical servings make him a little hungry for yesterday.
“You don’t hear many of these songs anymore,” he said. “And I think that’s part of the charm of this.”
Who: The Last Impressions senior musical dinner theater group.
What: An original script, “Chuck Wagon Chow-Wow!” with well-known country-western tunes, followed by a second-half show of gospel tunes.
When: 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Mill Race Center, 900 Lindsey St. in Columbus.
Tickets: $20, available at Mill Race Center and from cast members.
Western-themed meal: Prepared by Sadie’s Catering.
Information: 812-376-6612 or millracecenter.org.