-- An American country music and comedy television show, so popular that it enjoyed 655 episodes over 26 seasons, is now the basis of a once-a-month entertainment package at St. Anthony’s Legion in Bloomfield.
The 13-member cast of the legion’s version of Hee Haw is putting the final touches to its first anniversary show which will be presented at the legion this Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been a year already,” reflects Jeff Kearnes, who is host and one of the show’s creators.
The television show had a weekly segment called KORN News, where the announcer, initially Don Harron as Charlie Farquharson, would spoof the delivery of local news headlines. Hitting closer to home, the St. Anthony’s Legion cast presents its version of S.P.U.D. News. With the anniversary show falling the day before a federal election there should be no shortage of topics for that segment of the show.
Kearnes and his wife Kerry do the “Where, oh where, are you tonight? (and ‘pfft!’ you was gone!) segment.
The shows have built a steady following, some of whom have been to all 11 performances their twelfth show was cancelled in September due to Hurricane Dorian).
Besides the Hee Haw shows, the band has performed for one Hee Haw Hoedown dance in the first year. Kearnes says there will be more dances in their second season. They are also planning for a Christmas Hee Haw show, complete with turkey dinner on Dec. 1.
Special guest performer for the Oct. 20 anniversary show will be Alyssa Harper.
The St. Anthony’s Legion Hee Haws have a six-member house band, the Buckaroos, with Kevin Kelly filling the role of Buck Owens. Other band members are Robbie Thibodeau as the Roy Clark-styled emcee, Cathy Jackman, Orville Rogers, Danny Drouin and Steve Perry.
Other cast members
Kim Barton takes on the role of Minnie Pearl and then there are a whole bunch of cousins, Jeff and Kerry Kearnes, Mary Gallant and Nadine Chaisson as Cousins Jeff, Kerry, Mary and Nadine.
Rounding out the cast as joke-tellers are Paul Arsenault and Dennis Gallant.
The cast happened upon Hee Haw pretty much by chance. “It was going to be a harvest festival or harvest show,” Kearnes confided. “That would only be good for the fall. We thought about it and came up with Hee Haw.”
“It just flew from there,” adds Mary Gallant who can usually be found in the legion’s kitchen preparing the meal for the intermission. She’s Cousin Mary when she trades in the kitchen for the stage.
“It’s working for us, once a month,” Kearnes says of the show’s format.
The cast gets together to rehearse once or twice a month.
“It’s definitely a lot of fun,” Kearnes says of the music of the Hee Haw era, the corny jokes and the comedy. “We enjoy doing it.”