CLASS ACT - Andrea Anderson portrays Patsy Cline during a performance by the Louisiana Hayride. The production

The Louisiana Hayride Show is heading to Red Deer

Performance runs April 12th at the Memorial Centre

Get ready to be transported back to the golden years of classic country via the Louisiana Hayride, which arrives in Red Deer on April 12th at the Memorial Centre. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.

The Louisiana Hayride Show, now in its eighth year of touring western Canada, provides audiences a fabulous opportunity to go back in time and relive the days of true country and rockabilly music unlike it’s ever been presented before.

This show recreates the country radio program from years ago called the Louisiana Hayride which was based out of Shreveport, Louisiana, explained founder/producer Lori Risling, who created the show along with her husband Gil. The couple hails from Salmon Arm, B.C.

“We’ve been to Red Deer a total of six times since we started out back in 2010,” said Lori, adding that initially, she and Gil had no idea that the show would catch on so tremendously as it has.

“I came up with the idea of re-creating it – so that was my original plan. Down throughout the years, I pick the songs, I write the little skits – any of the theatrical parts. I also do the costuming and the hosting, and all of the research, too,” she explained.

Calling it the Louisiana Hayride may have seemed a bit of a risk at first, but Lori knew the name would catch on and even though some folks may have never heard of it, it would soon be recognizable to a growing set of fans.

Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.

“It’s grown and then when people see it and learn about what the name is all about, they remember it rather than a more generic kind of name.

“When we first started, we also had no idea that eight years later we’d still be going and that it would be a full-time career for pretty much all of us.” The first shows were staged in Salmon Arm, and they proved a hit right off the bat.

“We booked three nights at the theatre. The first night was going to be our full dress rehearsal, and then we were selling tickets for that Thursday and Friday. Thursday and Friday sold out so fast, that we decided to sell Wednesday as a show, too. So really, in the history of our Louisiana Hayride, we have never had a rehearsal! It was super, super popular right away in our hometown of Salmon Arm.

“I think that bit by bit, we started to realize that there really might be something here! And over the years, we’ve kind of spread out our territory.”

Meanwhile, the famed radio program ran in its original form from 1948 to 1960.

“The Louisiana Hayride – what it did that was so awesome – is that it often took the unknown artists and give them a chance. So a lot of people got established at the Louisiana Hayride and then went to Nashville. Johnny Cash started at the Hayride for a couple of years. Elvis was on the Hayride for 18 months. Johnny Horton started there fairly young in his career as well.”

The big names would drop by, too, including the wonderful Patsy Cline.

Those are some of the folks the Louisiana Hayride Show pays tribute to through a range of gifted musicians and singers who portray these very legends.

These include such stars as Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison, Loretta Lynn, and Willie Nelson.

“We find also, the younger generation is enjoying this show, hearing the music their parents and grandparents listened to. Music that is at the root of many songs today.

“And to add even more variety, we have introduced ‘Shania Twain’ and ‘Garth Brooks.’

As mentioned, the singers and musicians of the Louisiana Hayride Show recreate these artists and audiences will enjoy moments such as Hank Williams singing Your Cheatin’ Heart and Roy Orbison belting out Crying and Pretty Woman.

Interspersed throughout the show are little bits of trivia about the artists the group portrays which adds a fascinating dimension to the program as well.

The cast of multi-talented musicians includes Gil on electric and acoustic guitar and vocals when in character as Williams, Nelson and Orbison.

Andrea Anderson portrays Cline and Loretta Lynn along with her newest character Twain.

William Brookfield plays double keyboard, guitar and vocals and portrays Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Conway Twitty. Mike Melnichuk adds stand-up bass, electric guitar and vocals when he treats the audience to songs by classic country legends such as Ray Price and Faron Young. Finally, Troy Wakelin is extraordinary as Brooks and shows his excellence when performing two original songs, said Lori.

“At the end of the day when we see what we’ve accomplished, and the happiness that we bring to people, we always, always appreciate it. It’s just way beyond what we ever thought could happen. And we pray that we can keep it going because nobody in our group wants it to stop.

“It was such a unique time in the history of music,” she said. “And it’s bringing back so many memories. If people can leave with a smile on their face, then we’ve done our job.”

Tickets are available at the Black Knight Inn Ticket Centre by calling 403-755-6626 or by going online at www.bkticketcentre.ca.

mark.weber@reddeerexpress.com