Monday, March 23, 2015



This Mississippi gal taught herself a passel of musical instruments, was an all-star basketball player, a waitress, a receptionist, a barmaid, worked in a shoe factory and kept her hairdresser license renewed every year in case she ever needed it as a profession. Fortunately Tammy Wynette transformed herself into "The First Lady of Country Music" and never looked back.

To get up close and personal with Miss Wynette, born Virginia Wynette Pugh in 1942, mosey on over to the Ivoryton Playhouse for a tasty morsel of music history with "Stand By Your Man The Tammy Wynette Story" playing until Sunday, April 5.

Tammy started singing early on at a Mississippi radio show, raised by her mother, MeeMaw, a feisty Marcy McGuigan, and marrying the first of her five husbands before she graduated high school.  As a country western singer and songwriter, she never knew about instant stardom, but advanced up the charts with such winning tunes as "Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad," "D.I.V.O.R.C.E," "Stand By Your Man," "I Saw the Light," "We Go Together," "Did You Ever" and "I Still Believe in Fairytales." She continued to record with her third husband George Jones, a smooth crooning Ben Hope, long after their stormy divorce.

They were known as the King and Queen of Country Music and they made beautiful music together until they didn't.  His predilection for alcohol and her addiction to pain pills, due to her multiple surgeries, took a toll on their marriage. Katie Barton's Tammy captures the spirit of this intrepid singer who fought to achieve stardom and to keep her daughters protected.

Mark St. Germain's insightful musical provides glimpses into her complex, hard scrabble life, one that follows step by step her circuitous route to the top of the marquee.  There were a number of salty tears and no happily ever afters for this soulful star who struggles for every rung up on the success ladder. Her life is chronicled from her early beginnings with a perky young Tammy played by Lilly Tobin, and her relationships with the many men in her life performed by Morgan  Morse, Louis Tucci, Guy "Fooch" Fischetti, Jonathan Brown, Eric Scott Anthony and Sam Sherwood. All the men also comprise one jive  jumping band, under the musical direction of David M. Lutken, that make each tune terrific. This musical biography of Miss Wynette is directed with spice by Sherry Lutken.

For tickets ($42, senior $37, student $20, children $15), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivortyon at 860-767-7318 or online at Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Come watch how the "Love Bugs," Tammy and George Jones, are brought to glorious life by real life wife and husband Katie Barton and Ben Hope.  They'd love you to come by and say "Howdy" and sit and listen a spell.

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