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Donnybrook choir takes Medora by storm

We all love the Medora Musical but on Sunday night there was an added attraction that brought a whole new dynamic to the popular western North Dakota show.

7/12/17 (Wed)

We all love the Medora Musical but on Sunday night there was an added attraction that brought a whole new dynamic to the popular western North Dakota show.

The Medora Musical was advertising Sunday’s opening act as “be treated to something special.” That something special was a choir from Donnybrook.

The Clarence McCormack American Legion Post 195 Choir was the opening act and received a boisterous ovation for its 15-minute performance of patriotic songs that had many in the crowd singing.

The choir’s repertoire was perfect for the main show as it was Veterans Night in Medora with active duty military and veterans being recognized for their service to the United States.

Mary Johnson, who organized the choir more than a year ago for the Memorial Day program in Donnybrook, is also a member of the singing group.

She suggested the fledgling singing group going on stage to honor veterans, pales in comparison to the sacrifices they’ve made on our behalf.

“These brave men and women have all agreed to put their lives on the line for everyone of us,” Johnson said. “Our hearts are deeply appreciative and humbled at their service.”

Johnson has known for years Donnybrook has this kind of talent, it was just a matter of tapping it for the better good.

“We’ve been singing all our lives, so everybody has done it so long,” Johnson said. “We’ve played in church, in the school chorus and we played music in high school.”

For the choir, it was just another day on stage, albeit the largest and most watched stage in the state of North Dakota.

Following an afternoon sound check to get in sync, the group took to the stage as if they belonged there.

This crew didn’t miss a beat and everyone of the choir members appeared to be focused, calm and satisfied at the end of the performance. They personified the Medora Musical’s professionalism.

The 14 singers, dressed in royal blue robes with red stoles and white trim, looked and played the act as well as the first class performance of the Burning Hills Singers.

Emcee and former Bismarck Mayor Bill Sorenson, was appreciative of the Donnybrook choir following their concert which drew another round of applause from the sold-out crowd.

Theodore Roosevelt Foundation President Randy Hatzenbuhler, who oversees the Medora Musical,  looks for talent each week to provide opening numbers while the singers get ready for the stage.

Dubbed the “Greatest Show in the West,” It’s Hatzenbuhler’s  belief that the quality of the opening act be consistent with Medora Musical standards or they wouldn’t otherwise perform at the Burning Hills Amphitheater.

According to Hatzenbuhler, the Donnybrook choir fit that bill and it wasn’t just himself who recognized it. The crowd obviously liked what they were hearing.

The choir is made up of Johnson, Barb Johnson, the piano player, Matt Goettle, Craig Goettle, Alvis Martinson, Justin Johnson, Nancy and Lawrence Goettle, Mary Lou Knutson, Melanie Gerard, Madonna Eide, Ginger Johnson, Andrea Topolski, Pete Thorp and Laura Mibeck.

Whisked off stage as if the Beatles had come to America again, it’s unclear what’s next for the Donnybrook choir, other than the upcoming Veterans Day program in November.

Judging by how the crowd reacted to the performance, this troupe might just have to hit the circuit to satisfy the demand of their talent. There’s also talk of cutting an album, but Johnson didn’t provide details on if or when that might occur... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!