Maurice Hendricks, a baritone with the Knoxville Opera and the Marble City Opera, will solo the reprise of “Let My People Golf” in the 40th annual Front Page Follies, which roasts state and local newsmakers, on June 14 at the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville. The cast of local media folks and friends is ready to present the musical revue of the year’s news and newsmakers, a press release said.
Front Page Follies offers an evening of laughs as the Front Page Foundation, host of the show, raises funds for journalism and broadcast scholarships and media education programs for students. Lori Tucker, WATE-TV news anchor, will be the honoree at this year’s Follies.
Regarding his role in the performance next week, Hendricks said: “I got an email from a friend saying they were looking for someone to sing this song. I like being involved in all-around fun craziness as an artist, meeting and singing with new people, and networking. So I said, ‘yes, let’s do it!’”
Hendricks has won the Encouraging Award in national auditions for the New York Metropolitan Opera.
The song, “Let My People Golf,” skewers the attitudes that prevented then-University of Tennessee basketball coach Wade Huston, an African-American hired in 1989, from joining a local country club. “It’s interesting to see that situation was only in 1989, not in the ‘60s,” Hendricks said. “We’ve come a long way but still have a long way to go.”
Marketing professional and former Knoxville television news anchor Adina Chumley will reprise her role as Sarah Palin in the Follies, opening the show with a Palin-inspired fire announcement. Her performance will be among nine Follies flashbacks and 27 new songs in the 40th anniversary show.
“I’ve often called the Front Page Follies the Saturday Night Live of Knoxville…Of course, this year it’s going to be on Thursday,” Chumley said.
Also on stage will be David Lauver, of Write Angle Communications, the Follies scriptwriter for all 40 years of the shows, who adds polish and pun to the show by roasting newsmakers for a good cause.
“And I have yet to be in step in a single dance number,” joked Lauver, a published songwriter who has appeared live or in a recording for the run of the show.
Another flashback will be “Stand by Our Brand,” from 2015, inspired by the controversial, and now revoked, decision to drop the Lady Vols name for all UT women’s sports teams except basketball, with special guest Sharon Lord, international consultant and author. Other guests will be Anne McKinney, of McKinney & Tillman PC, and Kristin Farley and Bo Williams, of WATE 6 On Your Side.
The Follies cast also includes Melony Dodson, WUOT, 91.9 FM; Jere Doherty, Knoxville Choral Society; Lizzie Elliott, Knoxville Opera; Margaret Elliott, of Elliott Avenue; Emily Helton, Flying Anvil Theatre; Mike Howard, Encore Theatrical Company; Megan Jones, WATE-TV; Myranda McGhee, the E.W. Scripps Company; John McNair, UT College of Communications and Information; Frank Murphy, Classic Hits 93.1 WNOX; Bruce Patrick, the E.W. Scripps Company; Ernie Roberts, East Tennessee PBS; Geoff Scheer, Access Communications; and Callie Stelter, formerly with Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre.
Terry Silver-Alford, UT Theatre Department faculty member who has directed Clarence Brown Theatre productions, is the Follies’ director and accompanist. Guests from local television newsrooms will be Amanda Ketchledge, WATE-TV; Casey Wheeless, WVLT-TV; and Beth Haynes, WBIR-TV. Meteorologists in the Follies will be Matt Hinkin, WATE-TV; David Aldrich, WVLT-TV; and Todd Howell, WBIR-TV.
Media sponsors for this year’s Follies are East Tennessee PBS, Classic Hits 93.1 WNOX, and VIP Knoxville Magazine.
Tickets to the event range from $25 for balcony seating to $150 for VIP seating with a reception before the Follies with Tucker and the cast on the stage of the Bijou. Tickets are available on the Bijou Theatre website at www.knoxbijou.org, and on the Front Page Foundation website at www.frontpagefoundation.org.
The Bijou Theatre is a new venue for the show.
Proceeds will fund journalism and media education programs for high school and college students, including scholarships presented in Tucker’s honor at the University of Tennessee and Pellissippi State Community College.
“In her 25 years as a broadcast journalist in East Tennessee, Lori Tucker has developed a special relationship with viewers in this area,” said Frank Murphy, Front Page Foundation president, in announcing the honoree.
“She’s an outstanding news anchor whose hard work as a reporter also has been recognized—particularly her award-winning stories on health issues and education,” Murphy said. “In addition to all she does keeping us informed at WATE-TV, Lori’s volunteer leadership benefits this community in so many ways.”
Tucker anchors the 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts each weekday on WATE 6 On Your Side. She was named “Best Television Anchor” in the 2017 Golden Press Card Awards presented by the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists.
The WATE news anchor also received the Russell Cecil Award for her medical reporting and the Joy Dirksen Baker Award for her work in educating the public about cancer. She was a member of the Channel 6 evening newscast team that earned the Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in broadcast news. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in Knoxville presented her with its Media Award, and Tucker was a Phi Delta Kappa Person of the Year for being a “friend of education.”
Tucker is a board member of Red Cross of East Tennessee and a past board member of the Knoxville Opera, Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee, and the American Cancer Society. She serves as honorary chair of the annual Breakthrough Run for Autism and has co-chaired the Hope Gala for the American Cancer Society and the “Red, White and Rock” fundraiser for the Red Cross.
Tucker is a graduate of Leadership Knoxville’s 1998 class and a member of the Executive Women’s Association of Knoxville. She started her career as a reporter at KATV in Little Rock, Arkansas, was a weeknight anchor at WOAI in San Antonio, Texas, and became a main anchor at KATV in Houston, Texas.
Originally from Little Rock, Tucker attended Arkansas State University and University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She and her husband Steve live in Knoxville and have two grown daughters, a son-in-law and one granddaughter.
The Front Page Follies is a musical satire of the year’s news performed by media professionals and members of the community. Each year at the Follies, the Front Page Foundation honors a person who has made important contributions to journalism in East Tennessee. The event at the Bijou Theatre will include a silent auction on Handbid.com.
Previously sponsored by its founding partner, the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists, the Follies is now presented by a foundation chartered in 2015 and run by a volunteer board of directors. The Front Page Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides scholarships for students pursuing careers in journalism and electronic media and supports professional development and education programs serving East Tennessee journalists, students and the public.
For more information, visit the Front Page Foundation website and Facebook page.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
This press release and photos were submitted by Kay Brookshire.
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