Phantom of the Opry


News staff writer

April 12

It’s hard to tell who has more fun at a Lion’s Follies show; the performers or the audience. At the 29th annual Mid-Columbia Lions Follies, “Phantom of the Opry” (A Grande Ole Show), there is as much fun being had on stage as in the seats.

The plot — as you might have guessed — is loosely based on the well-known play of (almost) the same name. The concept is credited to the late James Williams, a Follies member for over 20 years, who died last August. This year’s show is dedicated to him.

According to Bev Bridgewater, the show’s executive producer and writer, Williams had had the idea for a few years. She and Andy Streich and Mike Oates took his general thoughts and created this musical comedy, which features current country favorites, remakes of popular country songs, and signature songs of many of the top country music stars of the late 1950s and early 1960s. And lots of laughs.

The show starts with the “Foll’n Flat” band — Andy Streich, Clinton Curtis, Mike Oates and Dave Tallman — who are about to make their Grand Ole Opry debut. But suddenly Tallman finds himself back in time — to the 1950s — where country music as we know it today got its roots. An accident forces him into hiding as the “Phantom of the Opry,” and that story weaves around vignettes of early country singers, with a little romance, a little drama, and a lot of humor.

Also starring in this year’s show are: Sammi Schend as Christine, the Phantom’s young protege; Patty Schend as Dolly Parton; Clinton Curtis and Cara Vance as Johnny and June Cash; Andy Streich as Waylon Jennings; Mike Oates as Willie Nelson; Megan Perkins-Roush as Patsy Cline; Dick Goe as Dudley Do, a talent agent; Mollie Sollman as Kitty Wells; Sarah Oates-Fox as Loretta Lynn; and Lynne Schuepbach as Minnie Pearl. Other main players are Terry Streich, Kathy Oates, Dorris Greenough, Rachel Weatherly, Sandy Belcher, and Caryn Chilton.

On the show’s second night, for the first time in its history, one of the two main characters — Sammi Schend as Christine — was ill and couldn’t perform. But the Follies must go on, so Sarah Oates-Fox, a trouper in every sense of the word, stepped in and played the role convincingly.

The Lions Follies are held as fund-raisers for the Oregon Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation. In the last 28 years, $194,000 has been raised for the organization and it is hoped that the $200,000 mark will be passed this year. The foundation is also collecting signatures to have itself added to the Oregon tax return; 10,000 signatures are needed for this to be done.


Remaining show dates are April 14, 15 and 16. The three-hour performances are held in the Hood River Middle School auditorium with a brief intermission; concessions are sold in the foyer.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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