The Dolly Parton Story

Night Owl Shows have bought another crowd pleaser to Brighton Fringe. The Dolly Parton Story follows the same 'show-umentary' format as their other productions, such as The Joni Mitchell and James Taylor Story, as they utilised a screen and a voiceover to tell us about Dolly’s life, with some interesting little nuggets of information that only a die-hard Dolly fan would know.

Tennessee warmth on a cold misty evening.

The piece is interspersed with the lovely voice of Hannah Richards, ably accompanied by a great guitar player who doesn’t seem to be name checked on the Night Owls site! Richards sings all the big hits in order, starting with Pure Country and moving on to the big hitters when Dolly made the leap to mainstream appeal.

This was the second night of the sold-out show and the audience in The Warren showed their appreciation throughout. It was nice to see such a range of ages attending, although the venue lacked a little intimacy and we were all a little too wedged into our seats to really do any dancing.

The show runs for just over an hour and is great entertainment. In other Night Owl shows, such as The Joni Mitchell and James Taylor Story, the singers made no pretence to speak in the artists voice even though they sang in it. I felt that it would have been better to have continued this for The Dolly Parton Story. This simple change might have made the link between Hannah and the audience warmer if she had shown herself as a fan who was paying tribute, rather than someone who sounded like Dolly but didn’t look like her.

I liked the fact that, despite a nod to country (with a rocking chair and suitcase on set, as well as Hannah’s cowboy boots and her partner's Stetson and embroidered shirt), there was no attempt to go for a full-on impersonation. However, I think that part of Dolly’s enduring appeal is her campiness, so a little sparkle and rhinestone wouldn’t have gone amiss.

The last few songs from Jolene onwards included the audience, and a great encore duet of a famous hit brought the tent down and got everyone on their feet. The level of appreciation shows that country music is alive and well in Brighton and points the way towards a regular country venue. I remember the glory days when Butch Hancock, Joe Ely and Jimmie Dale Gilmore performed in the 80’s in a little pub on the London Road. Surely the time is right for a country club to be launched again? Buzzing with Tennessee warmth on a cold misty evening, the satisfied people leaving The Warren humming My Tennessee Mountain seemed to think so.

Reviews by Deborah Mathieson

The Warren: The Hat

The Dolly Parton Story

★★★
Komedia Main Space

The Joni Mitchell & James Taylor Story

★★★★

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Following sell out shows and standing ovations at Edinburgh Fringe, 'The Dolly Parton Story' premiers at Brighton Fringe to take you on an incredible journey through the career of the ‘Queen of Country’, who currently holds an astonishing 153 major awards, including 9 Grammys and 11 CMA’s. Follow Dolly’s incredible journey in this groundbreaking 'show-umentary' format. Featuring passionate renditions of Jolene, 9 to 5, Islands In The Stream, Here You Come Again, Coat Of Many Colours, Joshua and many more. “Hannah Richards performs beautifully” **** (ScotsGay).

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