Four nationally known performers will be on stage at the Gloria Theatre on Thursday, Nov. 15, and Friday, Nov. 16, when they debut their new variety show “Flashback and Funny Forward.” The troupe bills the vaudeville-style montage as “an up-lifting, toe-tapping, knee-slapping, family friendly show that will have you laughing and humming all the way home.”
Gloria’s volunteer coordinator Lynn Adell Mirtes said, “We’re planning on sell-out crowds both nights, so we’re letting everyone know you should get your tickets right away.”
Millions of TV viewers fondly remember Andy Griffith’s hilarious sidekick, Mayberry’s deputy sheriff Barney Fife, portrayed by comedian Don Knotts, whose daughter, Karen Knotts, is one of four award-winning cast members who will entertain audiences at Urbana’s Gloria Theatre. The other three professional comedians, singers, musicians and actors are Michelle Krajecki, Christie McClendon and Darryl Van Leer, all of whom may be recognizable to many audience members. The ensemble’s combined credits include frequent performances at comedy clubs in Hollywood and Chicago, Broadway rolls and TV and film titles like “Return to Mayberry,” “Occurrence at Black Canyon,” “One of Our Own,” “Safe Harbor,” “One Tree Hill” and two HBO original movies, “The Second Civil War” and “Up Against the Wall.”
Among many numbers to watch for will be McClendon’s impression of Dolly Parton and Van Leer’s tribute to Ray Charles.
Excited about the big-time performers, Staci Weller, GrandWorks Foundation’s executive director, said, “We’re so thrilled to be able to bring such a talented cast of professionals to the community. It’s been a very long time since our stage has been graced by such seasoned professionals.”
In addition to first-run movies, the Gloria Theatre has booked five live events for the holidays, beginning with “Flashback and Funny Forward.” Area residents can look forward to a Christmas concert by Phil Dirt and the Dozers and more.
“Flashback’s” advance general seating tickets are $15 and reserved preferred seating is $20. Tickets will be available at the door if the performance is not sold out. For online ticket sales or more information go to GloriaTheatre.org or call the theater at 937-653-4853.
Actor comedian Karen Knotts is the daughter of comedian Don Knotts, TV’s Barney Fife of Mayberry fame. Karen has been on tour throughout the United States with a critically-acclaimed one-woman show, “Tied Up in Knotts.” She’s a regular favorite at the Comedy Store, Flappers and Hollywood Improv. TV and film credits include “Return to Mayberry,” “Occurrence at Black Canyon,” “One of Our Own” and the “Vice Academy” series. Karen also writes for the stage. She has written plays including “Dates from Hell the Musical” and the farce “But We Open Tonight.”
Hailing from Chicago, Michelle Krajecki’s comedy comes from her Midwestern, middle class, middle child views. A graduate of the acclaimed Second City Training Program in Chicago and Zanies stand-up comedy. She co-hosted the cable television show “Comedy-at-Random.” She was a finalist in The Clean Comedy Challenge and the winner of The High Fiber Division at a Chicago Comedy competition.
Christie McLendon began performing by singing in church. She has starred in plays and musicals and she stars in a traveling troupe that performs as the characters from “The Andy Griffith Show.” She does character portrayals of Dolly Parton and other country female artists.
Darryl Van Leer
Darryl Van Leer portrays great Americans in seven one-man shows that he wrote, produced and stars in. He’s a film and television actor, performer, singer and musician who has shared the screen with James Earl Jones, Samuel Jackson, Gregory Harrison, Rue McClanahan and Beau Bridges. He starred in TLC’s reality series “The Messengers,” the Nickelodeon movie “First Time” and others. He appeared in the weekly series “Safe Harbor” and “One Tree Hill” and two HBO original movies, “The Second Civil War” and “Up Against the Wall.” He also does character impresssions of the well-known, including Ray Charles, Elton John and Little Richard.
Submitted by GrandWorks Foundation/Gloria Theatre.