FROM HONKY TONK TO PROTEST: A Woman's View of Country Music Kavinoky Theatre
Sep 17, 2021, 14:33

Through October 3
FROM HONKY TONK TO PROTEST: A Woman’s View of Country Music Kavinoky Theatre

By Augustine Warner

Just think about it: Isn’t the image of country music a bunch of White guys in Stetsons, colorful suits, impenetrable accents from somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line and fiddles?
Loraine O’Donnell from Boonville, New York in the Adirondacks would deeply, musically disagree.
She’s the child of country music fans and a veteran local stage performer with not-country music.
The Kavinoky Theatre’s impresario is fighting back with the Kav’s first show returning from the tunnel of the pandemic, “FROM HONKY TONK TO PROTEST: A Woman’s View of Country Music.”
Her weapons?
It has an accurate country music list and a dynamite cast and band, Stetsons and fringe.
Just ask Renee Landrigan how much fringe she can wear.
While this is a story of O’Donnell and her family, it’s also a story of the civil war inside the family of country music, with battle points like color on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry or country women who want music about issues more than what kind of cowboy boots to wear on stage.
Here, it’s Landrigan with Loretta Lynn’s “The Pill” and the cast and band with the Dixie Chicks’ (now just The Chicks) “I’m Not Ready to Make Nice” and “March March.”
The women challenged the conservative values of the music and were blacklisted, in turn, even taken off the radio playlists.
There’s also “Color him Father,” here from Annette Daniels Taylor, when Black women started to infiltrate that section of country music, only to see another blacklist.
The first act is more a chronological look at the music which altered Country, over its opposition.
The second act is softer and more confused as O’Donnell tries to deal with perhaps too many topics, social change, gays (and Canadians) moving into the Opry world.
It’s probably a look at Country moving out of the American South (and Alberta is pretty similar) and younger fans having different views of the world around them, from drinking to the environment, Daniels Taylor with “Black Like Me.” To O’Donnell with “Better Than We Found it.”
With O’Donnell as the lead, the writer and the storyteller of how she became what she is and with strong direction and choreography from Lynne Kurdziel Formato, it’s a wonderful show.
I could have done without the overuse of the Kavinoky’s giant backdrop screen, often using dancing and gymnastics far from Country, although country scenic.
There is some great music, like Willie Nelson’s “Crazy,” Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” or Elle King and Miranda Lambert’s “DRUNK (And I don’t want to go home.”
Across the board, band and music, the show is working with a strong cast and some of the music which might show up at The Sportsmen’s Tavern.
O’Donnell was right to start the theater season from a dark place to the brightness and colors of Country music.
“FROM HONKY TONK TO PROTEST: A Woman’s View of Country Music” is a fascinating look at a societal segment and one family’s inner tumult over life and music.

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