Actress/singer-songwriter to visit Sharp County

Thursday, August 28, 2008
Mare Winningham

The list of Emmy-award winning actresses who are also acclaimed singer-songwriters is a short one.

The list of Emmy-award winning actresses who have made appearances in Sharp County is an even shorter one.

But all that is about to change, thanks to the Spring River Performing Arts (SRPA).

Fans of blockbuster movies such as "Swing Vote," "Turner and Hooch" and "St. Elmo's Fire" know who Mare Winningham is.

So too, do regular viewers of television favorites "Grey's Anatomy," "Boston Legal" and "Law and Order."

They know that Winningham is a multi-talented actress, one who pours her heart and soul into any role she takes on.

Those same fans, however, may not realize that the Arizona-born, California-raised Emmy-winning actress is also an accomplished singer and songwriter.

And with "Swing Vote," Winningham's latest big screen jewel (also starring Kevin Costner) still hot in movie houses across the country, Winningham is set to perform Aug. 31 at the Omaha Center in Cherokee Village. Showtime is set for 2:30 p.m.

It would be hard to imagine the SRPA kicking off its 2008-09 season in any bigger fashion.

"Getting an actress of her caliber who can also sing to come here and entertain us in this area is a rare treat," said SRPA board member Gary Lawrence. "It's really the chance of a lifetime to see Mare Winningham in such an intimate setting."

But Winningham won't be the only world-class entertainer on the Omaha Center stage that afternoon.

He musical trio will include fiddle-master Tim Crouch and multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and producer Doug Driesel.

Crouch has appeared on numerous TV shows, has performed on the Grand Ole Opry and has played with such legendary artists as George Jones, Dolly Parton, Vince Gill and Marty Stuart, to name a few.

Driesel has been seen on "Hee Haw," "The Arsenio Hall Show," "Pat Sajak Show" and has been band mates of Mickey Gilley, David Allen Coe, Razzy Bailey and The Platters, for starters.

That should add up to quite an afternoon.

And how did Driesel, a resident of Cherokee Village, come to rub elbows with Winningham?

"In this case, Timmy (Crouch) met her first, in Eureka Springs. She asked him to produce her last CD (Refuge Rocks Sublime), which is kind of a collection of Jewish folk music," he said. "And we started playing live and all three of us liked it, so we've continued. We played New York City and Memphis last year, and this year we're going back to New York City and New Jersey, Miami ... we're playing a select few dates. But the thing is, we've became really, really good friends. It's worked out good."

Working with the caliber of singers that he's worked with over the years, it takes a lot to catch Driesel's ear, but Winningham has certainly done that.

"Mare is really pretty unique (vocal-wise). But if you like Eva Cassidy, Petula Clark, Joan Baez, then you'll like the stuff Mare does," said Driesel. "She has a very cool presentation. You won't see anyone else putting on this kind of show. I really think people around here should get a chance to see a show like this. On this show, we'll be doing a mixture of her Jewish songs and some nice folk stuff, some Baez and Clark numbers. She does a cool version of "Downtown." She does some really neat stuff. But the neatest thing about Mare's show is just how congenial and "non-star" she is."

In other words, there will be no Hollywood starlet-type of attitude at the Omaha Center Aug. 31.

"I've known and worked with a lot of stars in my lifetime and I've never known anyone as friendly and non-star as her," Driesel said. "She's just a real sweet lady. She'd rather talk to you about how big that plant on your front porch is than about one of her movies. She's just a really nice person. She's not all like what you hear about Hollywood. As a matter of fact, she works very hard to make sure no one thinks that of her. Just a really cool person."

And according to Driesel, the charm of the Ozarks has worked its spell on Winningham.

"She loves the Ozarks. In fact, the last record we did with her, we cut in Drasco," he said. "And she has no plans to change avenues of recording. The next record she does will be she and I and Timmy, along with Mike Kennedy (plays with George Strait) on percussion. She likes recording here, staying here and she's even made mention of looking for a cabin around here. She loves this part of Arkansas."

Winningham has spent the biggest part of this year involved in a production of a movie that stars her along with Toby Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal called "Brothers." The movie is about brothers who fought in Afghanistan. "Brothers" is currently slated for a Fall release.

"And she also does a lot of stage and Broadway and off-Broadway stuff, too," Driesel said. "She just got through doing an off-Broadway play called "100,000 Miles." Timmy and I went to the play in New York and it was just incredible. She's just a great actress and a great lady."

Other shows scheduled for the SRPA's 2008-09 season include The Ronnie Kole Trio Oct. 19; Michael Johnson March 8; and the Liverpool Legends April 19.

Single tickets are $20, season tickets are $50, patron/season tickets are $75 and student tickets are $10.

Tickets are available to all SRPA shows at Becky's Village Florist and Afterwords Coffee Shop. For more information, call 847-0360.

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