By DeeAnna Haney • SMN Intern
Donning their best flannel and cowboy boots and armed with harmonies and dance moves, Tuscola High School’s Summit is ready to serve up another toe-tapping, knee-slapping Country/Western Show.
Aptly titled, “Country Through and Through,” the 39th annual production will be slightly different from years past. The performers are ditching the typical emcee style introductions and turning the auditorium into a Grand Ole Opry theme with a contemporary twist.
Before each number, a Summit member will explain the song’s history and what happened the year of its original release. Although the show features current country hits as well as classics, all the students agreed they enjoyed learning the older songs that they might not have been exposed to otherwise.
Some choir members, like senior Makayla White, even discovered connections with family members through many of the songs.
“Some of the songs we’re singing my mom said she used to sing in elementary school, like the songs in our medleys, ‘Old Joe Clark’ and ‘Cripple Creek’ and ‘Happy Trails,’” White said.
Included in the medley of songs, Summit will perform tunes such as “The Old Chisolm Trail,” “Mule Train,” “Riders in the Sky” and “Buffalo Gals.”
Aside from the group numbers, each choir member has chosen their own solos to perform, a process that allows the students to individually showcase their talents and tell a story through song.
Watching the students choose their solos and add their own personal touch to the show is one of Tuscola Choral Director Fritzie Wise’s favorite aspects of the concert, she said.
Just as varied as the group songs, the solo performances range from upbeat to ballads, some songs from as early as the 1930s.
White plans to sing a LeAnn Rimes cover version of John Anderson’s “Swingin,” an energetic, youthful song about swinging on a front porch with a new love.
Senior Heather Hoyle, who joined Summit this year, will perform an original song dedicated to a very close family member who has watched her grow up and helped her through difficult times in her life.
The senior members chose Lady Antebellum’s “Stars Tonight” as their senior song. For the older choir members, this marks the most meaningful song in the show.
“We really want to go out with a bang,” White said excitedly. “This is our last year to leave our mark, so we want to do it right.”
But the students know the perfect show doesn’t come without sacrifice. During the weeks leading up to opening night, Summit can be found rehearsing dance steps and voice parts from as early as 7 a.m. to as late as 11 p.m. on weekends.
“I don’t think a lot of people know exactly what goes into what we do,” said senior Samantha Gibson. “People look at us and say ‘Oh, they do country/western, they dress up redneck for a week and sing country songs,’ but they don’t realize the effort that we have to put into it.”
From the long hours and hard work always comes a successful sell-out show, with sometimes more than 600 audience members in one night.
For Wise, the main goal of the country/western show is to provide Haywood County with an escape from day-to-day problems and showcase young people in a positive role.
“Country Through and Through” runs from Thursday, March 10 through Sunday, March 13. Tickets are $8. If interested in purchasing tickets, contact the Tuscola Choral Department at 828.456.2408.