Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for December 19, 2013

Preparing for the opry is ‘an organized chaos’

Inside the Yukon Arts Centre on Wednesday afternoon, it’s a scene ready to start any good hoe-down.

By Stephanie Waddell on December 19, 2013 at 3:38 pm

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Top: MID-WEEK STRUMMING – Patrick hamilton rehearses Wednesday afternoon for the Grand Ole Northern Opry. Shows will take place Friday and Saturday nights at the Yukon Arts Centre. Bottom: DYNAMIC DUO – Kim Beggs, left, and Margaret Freeland are seen at Wednesday afternoon’s dress rehearsal for the Grand Ole Northern Opry.

Inside the Yukon Arts Centre on Wednesday afternoon, it’s a scene ready to start any good hoe-down.

A little girl twirls about in the pit, then runs up and down the stairs, her high energy evident.

Meanwhile, musicians linger on the stage – one holding a fiddle, another donning a cowboy hat, guitar slung over his shoulder and a Starbucks cup in hand while still others strum guitars quietly.

It’s the scene just before one of two dress rehearsals for the Grand Ole Northern Opry, scheduled to take to the arts centre stage on Friday and Saturday nights.

“I’m very happy with how this is all coming together,” show organizer Kim Beggs says as she joins the performers on stage following directions by an assistant producer with the show about when performers should be at the arts centre with instruments tuned.

After reiterating the importance of being on time and addressing other matters in an effort to ensure it’s a fun show for performers and audience alike, Beggs leaves the stage and the dress rehearsal gets underway.

Sitting in the hall outside the theatre, Beggs explains her reasons for organizing the country show once again after it premiered last year.

“It was a huge success last year,” Beggs says as she notes the positive payoffs that come with a complicated show that has many “layers.”

A show, in the style of the Grand Ole Opry, incorporates the work of many.

There are not only the nearly 20 musicians (including local Hank Karr as this year’s headliner) coming from as far as Oregon and three step dancers.

There are also another approximately 60 people involved, ranging from writers tasked with songwriting for the show, the stage crew, and volunteers who are helping out with things like selling merchandise and other tasks on show night.

Working with that many people can be a little chaotic, Beggs acknowledges, then states with a smile, “It’s an organized chaos.”

Added to the challenge of organizing this year’s show was the fact Beggs was on tour and had to deal with organizing the opry from afar.

“I had a lot of opry Kung-Fu to do,” she says.

While the opry comes just before Christmas, after last year’s event, Beggs’ says interest in being part of the second edition of the event has been higher now that artists know what it’s about.

The show is staged two nights, but for those involved, it’s a much longer event.

“The opry is about a week-long experience for the performers,” Beggs says.

Many arrive early to be part of a music camp. Then there’s a number of open-mic nights and jam sessions at area bars in addition to the two dress rehearsals Wednesday and today.

Along with more interest from performers and songwriters, this year’s production has also seen more sponsors come aboard to support the show either through financial contributions or in-kind through donations like hotel rooms.

As for what the audience can expect at Friday’s and Saturday’s performances, Beggs notes it goes beyond just sitting to enjoy the music coming from the talented musicians and songwriters who created works specifically for the opry.

Those taking in the show are encouraged to dress in their best Western get-up.

While all will be invited to dance in the pit, those selected for the best outfits may be invited to join performers on stage and dance.

Tickets are available at the arts centre, Arts Underground beneath the Hougen Centre or online at http://www.yukonartscentre.com.

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