GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — Around 30 formers dancers with the Midnight Cloggers have gathered together and are performing once again for their 25th Anniversary Silver Spectacular at the Ariel-Ann Carson Performing Arts Centre.
Old and new fans alike have two chances to catch the show, once at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 16, and again at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 17. Doors open at 7 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., respectively.
Bruce Wolfe, who founded the Midnight Cloggers in 1987, will be performing several clogging routines with dancers from Meigs and Gallia Counties in Ohio, and Mason County in West Virginia, to the group’s old favorites including as “Rocky Top,” “Twilight Zone,” “Highway 40 Blues,” and “Walk On,” as well as a few new selections like “Let Your Love Flow,” and “Why Don’t We Just Dance.” In addition to the dance routines, the show will also feature a few vocal performances with some opportunities for audience participation.
Wolfe said the idea for this show first came about around a year and a half ago, when the Midnight Cloggers were holding a reunion. The idea was announced to the former members and those interested in participating didn’t hesitate to say so. Wolfe, who currently works as an Imagineer at Disney World, has been traveling back to Ohio about every three months to teach new routines, and then the rest of the members held practices on their own to refresh their memories.
Clogger Shirley Simmons spoke about the group being back together after all these years, saying it was exciting, but nerve-wracking as well since it’s been so long since they’ve performed. She said a lot of the performers in the show have been involved since the beginning.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Simmons said. “It’s hard to believe it’s been so long.”
Simmons also has a unique tie to the group, as well. She, as well as her daughter, Melanie Dudding, and her grandson, Tyler Simmons, are all involved with the group and the anniversary performance.
Clogger Betty Lathey, known to the group as “Hotdog,” also discussed some of the history of the group, stating they’ve performed at venues all across the country. Lathey is also the oldest of the group, turning 85 years old shortly after the anniversary performances.
“I love it,” Lathey said about being back together with everyone. “I’ve never missed a practice.”
Lathey also discussed her unique nickname and how it has stuck with her for so long. Many years ago the members of the Midnight Cloggers were helping with an estate sale and auction, and she stated she was considered the goofy one of the bunch. During the auction there were refreshments available and according to Wolfe, Lathey was always walking around with her arms full of hotdogs. She then became known as the hotdog lady at the auction, and the name “Hotdog” has stuck with her ever since.
“No one calls me Betty with this group,” she added.
In addition to the mere excitement of being back together again, a sense of nostalgia is evident among the group as more and more memories come back of rehearsing at the Pomeroy Municipal Building and performances at Dollywood. Wolfe added that this group of people will always be special to him and the times they’ve spent together were some of the best, a statement the rest of the group would surely agree with.
“Of all the things I’ve ever done in my life, anything I do with these people is what I’m most proud of,” Wolfe said. He went on to discuss his career at Disney, but said it’s not as good as being back with the Midnight Cloggers.
“It doesn’t compare when I’m here with these guys,” he added.
For more information on purchasing tickets, visit www.midnightcloggers.com, www.arieltheatre.org, or call the Ariel Theatre box office at 1-740-446-ARTS(2787).