The Dolly Parton Story at The Alley

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The Alley Theatre in Strabane is getting ready to welcome Dolly Parton - or the next best thing, writes Fiona McCallion.

The Dolly Parton Story is a musical journey through the sensational career of one of country music’s most successful stars. Dolly Parton’s career has spanned more than 50 years and her most celebrated material features in this show. From her early country classics such as ‘Coat of Many Colours’ and ‘Joshua’, through to the later smash hits such as ‘Jolene’, ‘I Will Always Love You’ and ‘9 to 5,’ everyone’s favorite will be covered.

Andrea Pattison, ‘the UK’s best Dolly Parton impersonator’ spoke to the Derry Journal. “Dolly Parton is such an icon. She lives to perform, and one of the things I most admire her for is that she never intends to retire. We want to pay a respectful tribute to her with our new show. We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t think we could do the songs justice.

“The audience can expect to hear accurate versions of all Dolly Parton’s greatest hits. The show is done in character, and there is lots of fun and humour. There is plenty of audience interaction, so they can sing along, it’s their night out! Some of the best compliments I’ve had were from people who didn’t know a lot of Dolly’s songs but they really enjoyed the show.”

Andrea has been a professional singer for many years, and people have always commented on her similarity in sound and style to Dolly Parton. A lifelong fan of Dolly’s, Andrea would often perform some of the country star’s hits. “I never deliberately impersonated her when I sang, but people would said that I really sounded like her and my voice really suited the Dolly Parton stuff. I didn’t set out to be a tribute act, but it feels natural. I’m more comfortable singing Dolly’s songs than anything!

“She’s always in amazing shape, she really looks after herself. I’m a similar height and build to Dolly. But the most important thing is paying tribute to her voice. The accuracy and authenticity of her songs.

“The costumes and character came afterwards. We weren’t going to do it all, with the looks and the accent and everything. But it’s much more entertaining for the audience. I’ve recently got wonderful handmade replica costumes, from the 80s era until now, and it’s so heart-warming wearing them.”

As well as celebrating the life and music of Dolly Parton, Andrea will be incorporating her own experiences and music into the show. Andrea’s first album of original songs ‘Stormy’s Daughter’ was recently released. Dolly’s influence on Andrea’s writing and singing is obvious throughout the album. “It’s always a big highlight of the show, doing a little of my own material. People have been really supportive, every single theatre show I’ve done.”

Now in its fifth year this great show has built up a huge following around the UK and will be venturing further in the near future. This is actually the first time that the show has come across the water, and Andrea is very excited. “I never sang in Ireland before! I love the accent, and the people just seem so warm and friendly.”

With an all live four piece band providing the sound and amazing replica costumes, this is a real treat for any Dolly Parton fan.

“To call this a tribute show would be an injustice, it is much more than that, shut your eyes and it was Dolly!” - Iain Gordon, Glasgow Pavilion Theatre Manager

The Dolly Parton Show comes to Strabane on Saturday, February 22. Tickets from the Alley Theatre, box office on 02871 384444.