I was a weekly watcher of Hee Haw when I was kid.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that, even today. I would try to blame my Dad and say that HE was the real fan, but I’d watch Hee Haw all alone if I had to. I enjoyed the music and comedy but I think the unexpected sex appeal is what brought me back week after week. Hee Haw started off with 2 Playboy Playmates after all (Barbi Benton was my FAVORITE) and frequently used them in the “haystack” segments. That was pretty racy stuff for the early 1970’s. I was little then and didn’t KNOW what was going on in those piles of hay, but I knew it had to be awesome.
Flash-forward to today when Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical hits the stage and those haystacks aren’t quite as scandalous anymore. Sexy folks in cut off shorts still have their appeal though, as does great country music. Grammy nominee Brandy Clark and Grammy winner Shane McAnally created all the songs for Moonshine, so they’re polished and perfect for the stage. Tony and Grammy winners were brought in for all aspects of production, including set, sound and costume design, so Moonshine looks and sounds fantastic. Unfortunately, it’s the CONTENT that’s stale.
The original Hee Haw was a variety show, after all, and worked in comedy sketches along with the musical segments. That formula has been dropped and replaced with an all-too-familiar storyline (country girl moves to the city, gets in trouble and has to be rescued by her county kin). Keeping the variety aspect would have allowed writers to update the comedy and push the envelope, instead of telling the same old “Kornfield, County” jokes. How great would it have been to bring in different musical acts, as well?
The performers give it their all in Moonshine though, and deliver each joke like it’s a red-hot punch line. Rose Hemingway plays Misty May and Justin Guarini is her city-slicker-boyfriend, Gordy. Yes, that’s American Idol alum, Justin Guarini who has aged fabulously. Thank GOODNESS he finally got rid of that afro! My favorite member of the cast though has to be Ryah Nixon, who plays Misty May’s street-smart BFF, Lulu. Nixon’s bawdy style and generous rack might come the closest to Hee Haw’s original spirit.
Despite my gripes about the storyline, I really enjoyed Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical and I’m giving it a B-. Sure, they missed some opportunities but there were enough raunchy jokes and sexy folks in skimpy clothes to keep me happy. Moonshine is running at the Wyly Theater through October 11th and you can find tickets by clicking HERE. Also, make sure you try the Wyly’s Moonshine cocktails before you head to your seats. They’ll certainly make those haystack jokes seem funnier.
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