The Honkey Tonk Angels

The Honkey Tonk Angels

The Winter Park Playhouse

I don’t know which is more fun: Chris Leavy singing “Trashy Women”, Heather Alexander wearing Daisey dukes cut to three inches into No Man’s Land, or Ned Wilkinson’s precision drill team motions as he removes his hat to change instruments. But whatever might thrill you here this is one of the riskiest and most off-center shows Winter Park play house has ever put up. Act One plays out as a soap opera, Act Two as a never aired-episode of Prairie Home Companion. We meet three women in “Me, too’ positions: Alexander plays Sue Ellen, a twice divorced secretary to the vice president of Busy Hands Industries. Angela (Sara Jones) married a beer truck driver and raise a litter of small rednecks, and Darleen (Monica Titus) escaped from an Appalachian dead end, leaving her widowed daddy on a greyhound to Nashville. They meet on a bus, bond, and by act two their star is rising. Behinds them we find then fronting a 5-piece band complete with slide guitar.

While the gags are good the sons are better. Darlene pulls off the saddest “Ode to Billy Joe” ever sung, Sue Ellen wrings the soul out of “these boots are made for walking”, and Angeles big score comes from “Harper Velley PTA.” The only really jarring number here is the lounge “Night Life ” in act two. The song is fine, but it just doesn’t feel country. A five-piece ensemble back us up, a slide guitar and bass player support the Leavy/Wilkinson/Forrest triarchy. True, there’s no Cole porter here and the sophistication of Manhattan is hidden behind the flash and showmanship or the countrypolitan sound, but there’s no reason not to elevate the yee-haw sound as high as the music preferred by Eustace Tilley. The show was fun and shows the WPPH musical director CAN program about side the box. Next season I’m hoping for “An evening with the Ramones” or maybe ” A Hip Hop Heroes” production. Hey, miracles CAN happen.

winterparkplayhouse.org

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