'Angels' of Country Music

Playbill
What: Tupelo Community Theatre's “Honky Tonk Angels”
When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 29-31
Where: Lyric Theatre, Tupelo
Tickets: $12/adults, $6/students
Info: (662) 844-1935
Extra: A pre-show reception

BY M. SCOTT MORRIS

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tupelo Community Theatre has transformed three Northeast Mississippi residents into “Honky Tonk Angels.”

That's a good thing for country music fans. “Honky Tonk Angels” was written by Ted Swindley, who is best known for creating the blockbuster musical, “Always É Patsy Cline.”

“It's really a fun show,” said Tom Booth, director. “It has something like 40 country music songs, and we're talking about classic country music.”

The song list includes Loretta Lynn's “Coal Miner's Daughter,” Dolly Parton's “I Will Always Love You,” Willie Nelson's “Night Life” and Kitty Wells' “It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.”

“Just for the record, I don't frequent honky tonks,” said Suzanne Oakley, who plays Angela, “so I don't know anything about that.”

Plot points

The story centers on three women – Angela, Darlene and Sue Ellen – who all have a hankering to be country music stars.

Sue Ellen, played by Stacy Scruggs of Tupelo, is a twice-divorced Texas native living in Los Angeles.

“She has a boss who would like it to be more, if you know what I mean,” Scruggs said. “Her mama thought she would be a country music star. She really just wants to do something with her life.”

Darlene lives in the Mississippi Delta, where she takes care of her newly widowed father. Amanda Pitts of Mantachie brings the sheltered Darlene to life.

“She's never had her fingernails painted. That's where she's coming from,” Pitts said.

Angela has three kids and a husband named Bubba who's usually gone. She decides to leave her kids with her mama and hop a Greyhound bound for Nashville.

“Angela feels like if she doesn't go now, it will be her last chance,” Oakley said.

The trio meet on a bus and decide to become the Honky Tonk Angels. The second act takes place in a Nashville bar called Hillbilly Heaven, where the three try their dreams.

“In the end, everyone sort of reconciles their lives,” Booth said. “Some decide this life isn't for them.”

Special event

“Honky Tonk Angels” is a TCT fund-raiser, and it's not a part of the regular season ticket package. A pre-show reception featuring barbecue sandwiches, dessert, cash bar and more will start at 6:30 p.m. There's a $15 charge in addition to the ticket price to attend the reception.

At around 7:30 p.m., the stage at the Lyric Theatre will be transformed into the Hillbilly Heaven. The actresses may or may not have honky tonk experience, but they're all well-versed in classic country music.

Scruggs and Oakley are making their TCT debuts because of the chance to sing music that's so close to their hearts. Pitts is a TCT veteran who was exposed to country music as a toddler listening to her dad's country and western band.

“We enjoy ourselves a lot, and I think it shows,” Scruggs said. “There's some comedy and drama, but, mostly, it's a musical. It has songs everybody will be able to remember.”