Musical: A salute to Lawrence WelkLawrence Welk’s champagne music will fill the gymnasium when the Taylor Horse-fest Musical takes stage.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
Lawrence Welk’s champagne music will fill the gymnasium when the Taylor Horse-fest Musical takes stage.
The musical is billed as an evening of singing, dancing and the sounds of the big band era.
“It’s a tribute to Lawrence Welk and the state of North Dakota,” said Director Jean Marcusen.
Performances are 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, July 29-30 in the Taylor-Richardton Elementary School gymnasium.
“I grew up listening to Lawrence Welk — it was a weekly event for our family,” said Marcusen. “I especially enjoyed the singing and dancing.”
Marcusen accompanied her sisters (The Paulson Sisters) to Branson, Mo., in 2006. They visited with the Lennon Sisters and actually sang a song with them in the hallway.
“After that, I really thought it would be fun to do a Lawrence Welk Show in Taylor,” she said.
Marcusen envisions a reenactment of the Lawrence Welk Show in 1968 with North Dakota talent as his special guests. The music will be from that era or earlier — country-western, polkas, classics and gospel.
Classics will include “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” and “Danny Boy.” The younger entertainers will sing “What a Wonderful World,” which was recorded in 1968.
“Our costumes won’t be elaborate, but we’re doing our best — some are being sewn by Lucy Luff,” she said.
While some of the musical performers will entertain as themselves, others will take on the role of Welk entertainers.
Hank Bloom, who portrays Lawrence Welk, will open the show to the music “Bubbles in the Wine.”
Bloom feels a bit overwhelmed, but is honored to play Welk.
“A lot of people around here grew up watching Lawrence Welk,” he said. “I was right at the end of the Lawrence Welk episodes.
He’s been watching episodes of the Lawrence Welk Show on Sundays to lock in his mannerisms.
“It’s a little hard to copy the German brogue he always spoke,” said Bloom, who has a German heritage.
He’s secured a 70’s-style suit to wear for the show.
“I found it at a thrift show in Bismarck,” he said. “It has bell-bottom paints — I haven’t worn those since I was a kid.”
Bloom’s family — wife Rhonda, and two sons, also are involved with the production as singers. While his sons know little of the Lawrence Welk era, his neighbors certainly do.
“Everybody is constantly giving me advice — how to hold the baton while you’re talking and the kind of dancing he did as he directed the band — that sort of thing,” he said. “I’ve been getting a lot of advice as how to say this and how to say that. It’s been pretty interesting.”
The big band orchestra has been practing for the last three months. In addition, the vocalists will be accompanied by Kelly Kiemele, John Lardinex and Jim Geiger of Bismarck and Marcusen.
Marcusen’s sister, Peggy Anderson, was recognized as assistant director.
Several of the Welk show characters will be a surprise. Who will be the Chamagne Lady, Joe Feeney or Bobby and Sissy?
“Come to the show and find out,” said Marcusen.
Tickets are $15 for adults, 7-12, $10 and 6 and under, free. Advance tickets are available at the Taylor Community Activities Inc., office, Sit-N-Bull Bar, the Taylor Nursery, and the Dakota Community Bank in Taylor, Dickinson and Hebron. The remaining tickets will be sold at the door.