Letters

Letters 08-03-2015

Real Brownfields Deserve Dollars I read with interest the story on Brownfield development dollars in the July 20 issue. I applaud Dan Lathrop and other county commissioners who voted “No” on the Randolph Street project...

Hopping Mad Carlin Smith is hopping mad (“Will You Get Mad With Me?” 7-20-15). Somebody filed a fraudulent return using his identity, and he’s not alone. The AP estimates the government “pays more than $5 billion annually in fraudulent tax refunds.” Well, many of us have been hopping mad for years. This is because the number one tool Congress has used to fix this problem has been to cut the IRS budget –by $1.2 billion in the last 5 years...

Just Grumbling, No Solutions Mark Pontoni’s grumblings [recent Northern Express column] tell us much about him and virtually nothing about those he chooses to denigrate. We do learn that Pontoni may be the perfect political candidate. He’s arrogant, opinionated and obviously dimwitted...

A Racist Symbol I have to respond to Gordon Lee Dean’s letter claiming that the confederate battle flag is just a symbol of southern heritage and should not be banned from state displays. The heritage it represents was the treasonous effort to continue slavery by seceding from a democratic nation unwilling to maintain such a consummate evil...

Not So Thanks I would like to thank the individual who ran into and knocked over my Triumph motorcycle while it was parked at Lowe’s in TC on Friday the 24th. The $3,000 worth of damage was greatly appreciated. The big dent in the gas tank under the completely destroyed chrome badge was an especially nice touch...

Home · Articles · News · Music · Judy Harrison
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Judy Harrison

Rick Coates - August 10th, 2009
Judy Harrison gets Theatrical
Singer helms Williamsburg Dinner Theater

By Rick Coates 8/10/09

Dominic Fortuna has been the host of The Williamsburg Dinner Theater since its inception, but last fall Northern Michigan’s “Showman” landed the role of Vince Fontaine for the Broadway version of Grease. The show did so well on Broadway that the producers decided to take the road, so Fortuna remains busy touring the country, leaving some to wonder about the future of the dinner theater.
As they say, the show must go on.
“It is the same format, with a great dinner from Chef Dan Kelly and his staff,” said Judy Harrison. “It is a song and dance review type show with songs from the ‘40s to the ‘90s. It is called ‘Encore’ and we perform two sets with dessert served during the break.”
Harrison, who auditioned the cast, choreographed and is directing the show in addition to performing in it, is no stranger to the entertainment scene in Northern Michigan. She has two bands, Judy Harrison and High Impact, a country/rock band that performs all over the state; and Judy Harrison and Swing Shift, a 10-piece big band.
Last year, Harrison launched SwingShift and The Stars, a dance competition featuring six local celebrities partnered with six area dance experts. The competition took place throughout the fall and raised nearly $40,000 for area charities. Harrison is currently putting together the 2009 version that will kick off October 2.

ENERGETIC CAST
But for now, her focus is on the Dinner Theater, and she’s concerned that with Dominic gone and all that is going on throughout Northern Michigan this summer, many have overlooked what has been happening at the Williamsburg.
“We have assembled an incredible cast of entertainers from the area,” said Harrison. “I’ve really been enjoying working with all these young energetic performers. I’m as old or older than most of their parents. In fact, the keyboard player (Trent Hibbard) has been best friends with my twin sons since first grade. The three of them started a band in fourth grade that is still going. It’s crazy to think I am now working with him as a young adult. The cast works hard performing the show as well as being the waiters for the evening’s guests.”
Dan Kelly, owner of The Williamsburg Dinner Theater, is pleased with what Harrison has put together for the summer.
“I get asked: is it as good as what Dominic does? The answer is yes,” said Kelly. “They both have their own styles and audiences have left raving. We all love Dominic and he will be back, but Judy has been a refreshing change and the young talent she has on stage with her is the best I have ever seen.”
So does Harrison feel any sort of pressure trying to fill Dominic’s shoes?
“Dominic Fortuna asked me to fill in for him while he is on the road with ‘Grease,’” said Harrison. “Dominic and I first worked together about 16 years ago when I hired him for a show I was doing for the American Heart Association in Grand Rapids. We sang together a few times after that and have always remained in touch throughout the years.”


SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
As for the theme, Harrison says they are all over the board, musically.
“We have eight-year-olds and 84-year-olds in the audience that love it,” said Harrison. “We perform several standards and one of the highlights of the show is the trivia we play with the audience trying to guess the TV theme songs.”
Harrison, in between it all, remains busy on the Interlochen Arts Academy faculty where she has worked since 1998 teaching dance for musical theater. She also choreographs the student theatrical presentations and if that isn’t enough to keep her busy she makes several TV and radio commercials around the state and her voice appears on several corporate training videos.

The Williamsburg Dinner Theater presentation of “Encore” starring Judy Harrison runs weekends through the end of August with a possible extension into the fall. It is $45 for the full evening of dinner and the show. Dessert-only tickets are $20. Doors open at 6 p.m., with dinner beginning at 7. Reservations are necessary and may be made by calling 231-938-2181.

 
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