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‘Pretenders’ take stage at Roxy next week

It’s a night when friends and neighbors get a chance to step out on stage and show off their singing abilities. The Franklin County Arts Council is sponsoring the 19th annual Evening at the Roxy during the week of the W. C. Handy Music Festival.

Entertainment will be presented by local talent featured as “The Great Pretenders” July 25 at 7 p.m.

Arts Council’s Susie Malone said each year as the W.C. Handy Festival grows larger, attracting people from all over the state and beyond, this show featuring local performers gives Franklin County a way to get in on the fun.

“This event promotes the tourism in our area and helps our local economy,” Malone said. “Several local businesses, industries and individuals support this program by sponsorships. They will be acknowledged in the program, on the Roxy movie screen and on the website and recognized throughout the evening.”

The prelude to the show will feature the group Still Here, which consists of Larry Freeman, Byrant Bond, William Nelson, Eric Goodloe, William Buchanan, Ryan Freeman, George West, and Rev. William Freeman. Still Here has been an annual component of the Evening at the Roxy.

The main show starts at 7 p.m. Some of the entertainers scheduled to perform are Meletha Walker, Hudson Copeland, Gary Cummings, Sydney Medley, Avery Guinn, Jayne Wells, Angela Townsel, Jeff Allen, Danyelle Hillman, Alissa Young, Angela Cummings, Konner Bendall, John Pilati, Jacob Green, Mattie Grace Oliver, P.J. Winston, Will Brown, Buford Parker, Dana Hill, Debra Williamson, Leah Nix and Cassidy Willis.

For many of the performers, their appearance as Great Pretenders is a repeat occurrence, as they choose to participate year after year. For Russellville High School senior Medley, for example, the 2019 show will be her fourth as a Great Pretender.

“The most enjoyable thing is just getting to sing, and getting to be someone else for a night is a great feeling,” said Medley. “It’s just a great program in general. It really embodies what W.C. Handy was as a musician, and just for me to be able to be a so-called ‘musician’ is one of the greatest honors.”

This year Medley said she has chosen “Hopelessly Devoted to You” from the musical “Grease.”

“As a family we all watch ‘Grease’ when it comes on; it’s one of our favorite musicals,” said Medley. “I sang it before with a voice teacher, and I fell in love with the song then. I love Olivia Newtown-John and how she performs.”

Franklin County Extension director Katerina Cole-Coffey will serve as emcee for the evening, a role she reprises each year for Evening at the Roxy.

All proceeds go to the Historic Roxy Theatre. Tickets are $5 will be sold at the door; children younger than 6 enter free.

“The Arts Council takes pride in the restoration of the Historic Roxy Theatre,” Malone added. “The Arts Council wants to present quality, wholesome programs that the entire family can enjoy. This will be an entertaining evening that you will not want to miss.”