Savannah Stage Company pays tribute to Dolly Parton with a cabaret show
Admit it – every time “Jolene” comes along, you sing that chorus like you’re on stage and in the spotlight at the Grand Ole Opry.
Or sometimes you listen to “9 to 5” just to relive how you and your mom grabbed wooden spoons and sang along while you washed the dishes to the beat.
And every time you hear “Islands in the Stream,” you can’t help but think your grandma always wanted Kenny and Dolly to get together because she just knew they’d be the best couple.
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If Dolly Parton’s music conjures up fond memories, or if the Queen of Country makes you feel good inside, you’re not alone and you’re in luck. The Savannah Stage Company kicks off its 10th year in Savannah this Saturday at the Tybee Post Theater with “I Will Always Love You,” a tribute to Dolly Parton.
“Dolly is a performer who speaks to a lot of people,” said Megan Blanton, the show’s performer and musical director. “Truly, she has a timeless career with over 3,000 songs written in addition to her performing career. Basically, everyone loves Dolly Parton, whether you’re five or 75, and it just seemed like a fitting choice for starting our 10th season with his spirit, fearlessness and positivity.
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But it’s more than just an evening of Dolly songs. The company has selected tunes that tell the arc of a love story revealed through the actors’ true and personal stories. The idea is that through this level of authenticity, the cast takes the audience on a journey through each character’s authentic experiences. Personal storytelling helps build a real relationship between the actors and the audience.
“We want this performance to show a bit of what’s going on in our business,” Blanton said. “We are a family and we want to be accessible, to be more than people singing on stage. The show celebrates Dolly, but it also highlights the vulnerability and playfulness of the actors who bring this cabaret to life.
Lexi Balaoing, actress of the series and member of the company for 10 years, has a very special place in her heart for the music of Dolly Parton. Hailing from a small town in North Central Florida, Balaoing grew up singing Dolly tunes in a touring family country music revue.
“These songs are so meaningful to me and take me back to a time when I really thought I wanted to be a country music artist, move to Nashville and do whatever it takes,” Balaoing recalled. “I was singing and traveling with my family and I was about the same age as LeAnn Rimes when her first album came out, and it opened my eyes. I realized how much work, time and energy it would take to be a country artist, and I decided to focus on acting and performance instead. I love what I do and have never looked back since.
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Dolly fans will not be disappointed. The cabaret-style performance weaves its narrative around songs like “9 to 5”, “I’ll Always Love You”, “Jolene”, “Please Don’t Stop Loving Me”, “Don’t Call It Love”, and some of the more obscure tunes from Dolly’s catalog.
Now in its historic 10th year, Savannah Stage Company is offering a range of performances centered around the themes of bravery and courage for their 2022 season, calling it “A landmark season of fearlessness.” An adaptation of “The Jungle Book” is slated for the spring, “Peter and the Star Catcher” for the summer and a bold production of “The Full Monty” in the fall.
“Ten years ago, our core group saw the need for an accessible theater in Savannah. Regardless of the economy, quality theater should be for everyone,” Blanton emphasized.
“We believe in growth and in imagination and bravery are important companions in growing and meeting challenges. And since service is one of our core values, being accessible as actors living and working in Savannah is something that motivates us to grow here.We are grateful for our partnership with Tybee Post and grateful to be doing theater in Savannah for ten years with the kindest support of a great community.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO
What: I will always love you, a tribute to Dolly Parton
Where: Tybee Post Theatre, 10 Van Horne Avenue, Tybee Island
When: Saturday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.