Lions Club Variety Show

Written by Teresa Dennard.

67th Year for Show

On Friday, January 24, the Panola County Lions Club will host its 67th variety show that is guaranteed to be full of slapstick comedy and top-notch talent. First started in the pre-World War II era, the showboat style program is produced solely by the local Lions and is the major fundraiser for the year. Complete with an Interlocutor, End Men, and Storytellers, the show has 32 talent acts that are sure to be showstoppers! Show Director Jerry Hanszen says, “We have a lot of surprises this year, so people need to come see what we have planned.”

A crowd favorite for the show is the walk-on ads. These ads became part of the show during the early ‘80s and Warren and Toni Biggs were in charge of putting them together. One of the favorites was a skit with an “I Love Lucy” theme. “Randy and Kathy Taylor were Lucy and Desi, and I was Ethel,” remembers Toni. “We did the skit where Lucy puts her face down in the big thing of chocolate pudding, but of course we didn’t practice that part. The night of the show Kathy put her head down in that pudding and came up yelling ‘waaaaaaaaaaa!’ I just lost it and so did Randy. We were literally just standing there laughing. I couldn’t even get to where I could speak and Randy was the same way. Fortunately the audience was rolling over too. We finally got through the skit, but there was no way you could prepare yourself for that!” After years of working with the ads, Toni and Warren felt it was time to pass the torch to the younger members; thus, Brett Biggs and Tate Barber are now the ad committee. The rule for skits…”There is no sacred ground. We try to poke fun at everybody!” With that in mind, these ads usually have the crowd rolling in the aisles.

Dr. Wayne Kyle is the only active member that was in the very first show. In high school at the time, he played the guitar, but it was his performance with the trumpet after he became a member that had many coming back for more.  John Cain is the longest standing act of any performer. At last year’s show he sang a duet with his daughter, Susan. In earlier years, the Lions worked only with a pianist. Those ladies were Mary Hall, Bernice Blair, June Lewis, Karen O’Neal, and Sherry Willoughby. The club now performs with a band and the talent the Lions have put together through the years is remarkable. “Take a community and take a bunch of businessmen who you’d think had no talent at all,” says Hanszen, “and they come up with some unbelievable talent, whether it be singing, playing an instrument or doing a walk-on ad.”

Each year a high school student is selected to be the Lions’ Club Princess. Marlei English, daughter of Lion member Olen English was chosen for the honor. Doors open at the Civic Center at 5:00 pm and the concession stand will begin selling hamburgers and drinks. At 6:00 pm the Panola College Stage Band and the Pipers will provide entertainment. The main show begins at 7:00 pm, and later in the program, Debbie Miller’s Primary Choir will perform. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased from any Lions Club member or at the door. With monies raised from the event,the Lions Club supports the Lions Camp for Crippled Children, the Seeing-Eye Dog Program, the Carthage ISD Educational Foundation, Lions International, and also provides three $2000 scholarships for CHS seniors.

The Lions Club thanks all the people that have supported the show through all the years. Without the community support, we’d be helpless.