Cornpone country gets some city street cred when down-home writer and actress Naomi Fleetwood-Pyle performs an original rap in, of all places, Kornfield Kounty this weekend. Such a mix unfolds at the beginning of this weekend’s Actors Studio of Hope’s presentation of “A Hee Haw Sequel: A Second Helping.”
The original course was served to sold-out audiences a year ago, but included nothing like this partial verse with verve:
I’m Naomi and not the model Campbell
It’s Archie, and the words are gonna scramble.
Homemade cornfield and bales of hay
We hope you like our set ok.
The free-flowing Fleetwood-Pyle brings back a bit of the old and the new with this dinner theater show running Friday through Sunday at Willow Leaves of Hope, 326 Jackson St. in Hope. She playfully pokes at television’s long-running series, but always with respect since she, like millions of others, loved the redneck rollicking and good times.
“We at Actors Studio know very well what our audience demographic is,” she said.
That means older, rural ticket buyers who grew up with shows such as “Hee Haw,” boasting a collection of bad jokes and great performers, from Roy Clark to Roy Acuff.
“People need to know that this is not the same show as before,” Fleetwood-Pyle said.
New vocalists include Dawn Mayes crooning tunes such as “Stand By Your Man,” “Delta Dawn,” and “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Then there are the cloggers such as LaGena DeRossett, who will be tap-tap-tapping around the audience.
“She’s not at all afraid of appearing to make a fool of herself if it will make people laugh,” Fleetwood-Pyle said.
Area singers Kendall Hadler and Jimmy Bennett will perform as Buck Owens and Roy Clark. And local actress Nancy Worland returns as Minnie Pearl.
Plus, Falicia Whited, the original show’s set designer, has returned with more set pieces for a backwoods atmosphere. Though she is a bit young to have appreciated the original run of “Hee Haw,” she does recall episodes at her grandparents’ place on some childhood weekends. So she can understand its popularity even today.
“Honestly, I think that it was so cornball, and straightforward comedy for people who grew up watching it for 20 years,” Whited said. “I think they easily recognize the nostalgia of it. And it’s been such a part of country music culture.”
Whited also steps up in this show to sing two K.T. Oslin numbers: “Hey Bobby” and “‘80s Ladies.”
She’s watched her share of YouTube videos to try to match the performer’s body language and more.
“I’ll never be totally satisfied vocally with this,” said Whited, who has repeatedly said that she is a reluctant stage vocalist. “Her voice was really very soulful and I don’t quite feel like I have the grit to my voice that she had. But I’m happy with the fact that we chose to do these songs.”
Fleetwood-Pyle acknowledged that nearly any Hee Haw-themed show could sell out with such a large fan base locally.
“I love all the stupid and corny jokes,” she said. “… And I know that people still respond to that old, down-home humor.”
About the show
What: Actors Studio of Hope’s presentation of “A Hee Haw Sequel: A Second Helping.”
When: Friday through Sunday.
Where: Willow Leaves of Hope, 326 Jackson St. in Hope.