Saturday, October 02, 2010

Grandma Great and AMT

We had a great time this past Friday evening at the American Mountaineer Theater in Elkins. Grandma Great Meads needed an outing and though another visit to the AMT would be a treat. This show is so much fun. The musical skills of the cast are amazing.

Let me introduce some of the cast members. Below is Susie Heckel.

Without Susie Heckel, there would be no American Mountain Theater. In 2003, she had a God-given vision that wouldn’t let her rest until she saw the completion of the beautiful new theater! Susie is an Elkins native who began entertaining at the age of 2 while singing with her daddy at churches and radio stations in and around West Virginia.

Susie, a former RCA recording artist as a part of a group called The Heckels, was a regular featured artist on the Wheeling Jamboree and has also performed on the Grand Ole Opry. She is a creative part of our production team and does an outstanding job with our costuming. Her show-stopping voice are so touching!

Denny Franks is an outstanding keyboard artist.

A veteran performer of Branson, Missouri, Denny is a master musician and vocalist. He began his career very early as the staff keyboard player at the Wheeling Jamboree and then moved onto Nashville where he recorded for RCA Records with the trio group The Heckels. He was a member of the cast of the Ozark Mountain Hoe-Down in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and the Pierce Arrow Theater in Branson, Missouri.

Denny has worked with some of the biggest names in the music business, such as Roy Clark and Wayne Newton. He now serves as American Mountain Theater’s musical director and has become an integral part of the magic that happens during each performance at AMT!

Mom is cuddling with Jeremiah Franks, youngest son of Denny.

Without a doubt, Jeremiah is the most refreshing, exciting, and energetic talent to hit any stage — anywhere, in years! He absolutely delights the audience from the word go with his seemingly unlimited spirit for entertaining!

Jeremiah is a native of Elkins, and he is an accomplished vocalist and musician with a bachelor’s degree in music from West Virginia Wesleyan College. From serious to hysterical, Jeremiah’s abilities are showcased during our comic impersonations, making him popular with all AMT audiences — young or old! At times, the stage hardly seems spacious enough to contain his kind of talent.

Another of Denny's sons is Joel Franks.

Joel is a third generation entertainer who learned to keep rhythm about the same time he learned to walk! As a born musician, there is no doubt Joel has mastered his craft. He is as talented in his field as any drummer on the stage today. In addition to his perfect tempo, Joel is also an excellent singer.

He has the unique ability to impersonate singers as diverse as Frank Sinatra to Louie Armstrong, making him an awesome addition to the cast at AMT. Joel has spent time performing on the Branson music scene and doing studio work for various artists. Joel and his family now make their home right here in Elkins, where he was born and raised.

Below is Grandma Great with Kenny and Beverly Sexton. Kenny does it all! He is the president, owner, and producer of the American Mountain Theater. His personality on the stage makes him as adorable as he is valuable. When he is offstage, he manages all facets of the business, utilizing his 30+ years of experience as a Certified Public Accountant and business entrepreneur.

He began entertaining as young as 6 years of age and isn’t about to slow down! Kenny perfected his talents while owning and producing the Ozark Mountain Hoe-Down music theater in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and now brings his commanding talents to the stage of the American Mountain Theater.

A native of the mountains of West Virginia, Beverly started singing with her father and sister at the age of 9. She was a regular featured artist on the Wheeling Jamboree and then moved to Nashville where she became the third member of the RCA Recording group The Heckels.

She spent several years traveling out of Nashville with some of the most notable names in country music, such as Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty. Her career then took her to the music theater venues of the Ozark Mountain Hoe-Down, Lee Mace’s Ozark Opry, and the Carolina Opry in Myrtle Beach, where she learned much about show production.

Beverly adds her voice and writing talents specifically to the gospel music featured in the show. She has written over 150 gospel songs, several of which have been top 10 radio singles for other artists, one of which was featured on a Bill Gaither video.

Kenny and Beverly's two daughters are also in the show. The AMT's Christmas show starts the last of November and we plan on seeng this show.


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