, Muskogee, OK

January 23, 2014

Performers bond for Senior Follies

AR benefit shows this weekend

By Leilani Roberts Ott
Phoenix Correspondent

— Ron Hood quickly walks into rehearsal late for the Funtastic Senior Follies carrying his rainbow sparkly dress and auburn wig.

“I get mood swings when I put this dress on,” he said. “I get no respect.”

The women seated waiting for their turn on the Cockle Dance Studio stage laugh. It’s all part of the camaraderie as the group of actors, singers and dancers come together to create an evening of entertainment at 7 p.m. today and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday at Alice Robertson Junior High School, 402 N. S St. Tickets are $15, adults; and $10, children, and are available at the door.

Proceeds will go to replace the seating in the auditorium to complement the recently remodeled stage, new sound system, curtains and stage floor received through a grant from NASCAR driver Jimmy Johnson.

Bob and Isabel Cockle are directing and performing in the show. Their dance studio and home is just down the street from AR. This the fourth year for the senior follies, but the first time it has benefited AR. Last year, the proceeds were donated to Muskogee Little Theatre.

“AR was established in 1939,” Isabel Cockle said. “A lot of families have come through there. It’s the school’s 75th anniversary this year. It has the nicest stage in town.”

Cockle said the performers have a bond and “big friendship.”

Actor Cary Pruitt said it’s kind of like a reunion when the group gets together because they’ve all performed together in different shows, many of them at Muskogee Little Theatre.

“AR is where Muskogee Little Theatre began,” Pruitt said. “This is a good time for a reunion.”

Actress and vocalist Peggy Harris agreed.

“It’s a friendship and family,” Harris said. “We’re all here to help the community. We donate our time and talent.”

Some of the show highlights talent, such as Edward Warren playing the saxophone or Harris singing. Other times, its silliness just makes you laugh. There are line dances with dancing girls — some older than 50 — and line dances with all men — all older than 50.

Many of the women enjoy dancing but aren’t much for acting. They include Kim Winston, who takes dance lessons.

“I love to dance,” Winston said. “It’s the best exercise. My family laughs. Some day, I’m going to bring my three grandsons, but not yet.”

B.J. Counts has danced for years with the Kiwanis Kickers and 16 years with Cockle’s and Francie Martin.

She used to have her own band, the Oklahoma Ramblers, with her husband, the late Roy Counts, but she just sticks to dancing now.

No acting for Elaine Brownell either. She’s a dancer.

“I love it,” Brownell said. “I love the girls and the exercise is terrific.”

Her children and grandchildren have gone to AR so she believes in the cause of improving the auditorium.

At 75, certified zumba instructor Kalua Corbin is proud that she can still move her hips like a hula girl. She dances six days a week. She also does backup singing in the show.

Some of the best laughs in rehearsal came when Steve Thomson gave new words to Tim McGraw’s song “Live Like You Were Dying.” He heard the humorous version on satellite radio.

“I stole it,” he said.

He replaces the tender words with phrases including “I started jazzercizing, I spent 4.7 hours at a Ruby’s barbecue,” and “My son, I hope you never have to live life on a diet.”

Winston called the skits “outrageously funny.” They range from Charles Mutch doing a standup routine he wrote to Pruitt and Lillian Jayne doing a scene on a park bench in which she ends up stealing his watch, ring and wallet.

“It’s good for us to get together and socialize ... enjoy each other’s talents for what they are,” Pruitt said.

If you go

WHAT: Funtastic Senior Follies.

WHEN: 7 p.m. today and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Alice Robertson Junior High School, 402 N. S St.

TICKETS: $15, adults; and $10, children. Available in advance at Soundworld, Crowning Moments and Alice Robertson Junior High, or at the door.

PROCEEDS: Benefits the auditorium at Alice Robertson Junior High School.