By Sue Moore
Tradition! After 61 years, it would seem that most of the people in South County would know about the Showboat, but that was found to be erroneous, according to an informal survey of local residents.
No matter, it will take place this year on February 28, March 1 at 7 p.m. and March 2 at 2 p.m., with a spaghetti dinner option in the Vicksburg High School cafeteria, sponsored by the Boy Scouts, Troop 251.
The Showboat what? There is a whole new generation that has yet to experience the hilarity and pratfalls of the show’s comedy writers who largely direct their jokes to kids in elementary school. The chorus however is the saving grace as they blend beautifully in four-part harmony, some of the loveliest tunes for man chorus in existence, according to Chris Garrett, the show’s music director.
What used to be a standing room only, a whacky three-night stretch in the old high school gymnasium, is now a much more polished and modern performance in the Performing Arts Center. It has nice plush seats compared to the bleachers, great sound system, nuanced lighting and fewer people attending.
The Vicksburg Rotary Club has been working toward keeping the old time songs, skits and jokes that held forth while polishing the script so it has some continuity and direction under the guidance of Ken Franklin. The chorus has members who read music, sing beautifully and are directed by eight-year veteran, Garrett. This year, the theme is aptly put, “Does Anybody Have the Time?”
The ticket prices have remained the same, $10, for many years, with advance purchase taking place at Hill’s Pharmacy on S. Main Street, up until the Friday of the show. Combo tickets for the spaghetti dinner and the show are a bargain at $15 each, with the dinner price set at $8 individually. All Vicksburg elementary students have been provided with a voucher for a free ticket to the show when accompanied by an adult. These need to be turned in when purchasing tickets.
The show is in the making for over two months with rehearsal beginning the first Sunday in January. The script writing team starts work in August, developing a theme and polishing the jokes. The entire effort is sponsored by the Vicksburg Rotary Club. It is the one and only fundraiser the club puts on, with all the proceeds going to fund the many non-profit activities in the Vicksburg community. Over the past 60 years, nearly $600,000 has been raised with the entire amount going back into the community.
Mike Tichvon, general chairman and Ken Franklin, director of the show, invite new and old alike to sit back, enjoy the jokes and take in the great music, by taking a step back in time when stage entertainment was king.