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MOORE ON MAUMELLE | Two Governors on the same day

I had the opportunity to hear former Gov. Mike Huckabee speak to the Political Animals Club last week and had forgotten what a formidable speaker he can be. I visited with both him and former First Lady Janet Huckabee and both said they are enjoying life in Florida. I think if I had a beachfront house I might enjoy it as well. He told me he was enjoying being on the media side of politics. He walks a few feet in his house to go to his recording studio where he does his daily radio show. It’s broadcast weekdays in Little Rock on FM 106.5 from 11 a.m. till 2 p.m. He goes to New York City once a week to do his television show, “Huckabee,” broadcast weekly on Fox News on Saturday and Sunday at 7 p.m.

The governor spent a great deal of his 30-minute speech talking about his days in Arkansas, recalling them as the best days of his life. He said he loved being governor of Arkansas but told the media there that he wouldn’t rule out another run for the presidency. “It’s obviously a process I’m still young enough and capable enough to consider. That’s all I can say at this point … I don’t feel like I’m under the gun to make a decision by a certain date,” he told reporters after the speech.

He also said the mess in Washington is due to a great degree to politicians acting like they are on the campaign trail instead of working to find solutions to the complicated issues facing our country. Nothing new there.

I also had the pleasure the same day of hear Gov. Mike Beebe accept the “Communicator of the Year” award from the Arkansas Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. Governor Beebe is an excellent communicator and has grown even smoother over the past several years and you can tell he enjoys being in front of a crowd. I’ve yet to see him or Governor Huckabee use a note. It was also mentioned that they both come from a long line of excellent communicators in the Mansion including Bill Clinton, Dale Bumpers and David Pryor. One person told me after the program that our incoming governor, whether it be Mike Ross or Asa Hutchison, will probably not carry on that tradition to the level of their predecessors.

The girls put on quite a show

I had the pleasure of watching the dress rehearsal of “The Hallelujah Girls” performed by the Maumelle Players. The production, directed by Victor Werner, stars a group of pretty funny ladies and a couple of guys thrown into the mix to facilitate the ladies’ story. It’s definitely the ladies’ show.

The show is being staged in the group’s new home at Little Scholar’s Academy on Maumelle Boulevard behind the Shell station. The space is very accommodating despite a few technical issues with light spilling in from other areas of the building and some traffic noise from Maumelle Boulevard.

The story revolves around Sugar Lee Thompkins’ dream of buying an old church and converting it into a day spa, called SPA-DEE-DAH in Eden Falls, Ga. Her main collaborator in the business venture is Carlene Travis, who also gives up her day job to join Sugar Lee in establishing a spa offering hair treatments, a sauna, manicures, beauty shop talk and a dose of marital counseling.

The shining stars of the production are Lynne Hicks of Maumelle as Carlene Travis and Jeannie Belew of North Little Rock playing Sugar Lee Thompkins, the owner of the spa.

Travis is the most polished of the ensemble and has great stage presence and comic timing. You could easily imagine her in a production of “Steel Magnolias” or TV’s “Golden Girls.” Belew, who has had stage and movie experience, plays the confident and stubborn Sugar Lee with an obvious insight into the mindset of a strong-willed woman.

Another bright moment in the show is Stefanie Johnson as Crystal Hart, the quirky spa employee who uses holidays as a reason to dress in outlandish costumes including an incredibly funny Uncle Sam costume for Fourth of July. Her entrances in various costumes show a flair for comedy and an intentional propensity to upstage her fellow actors.

Rounding out the cast are Amanda Michels as Nita Mooney, Denise Loken as Mavis Flowers, Rachel McDonald as Bunny Southerland, Mike Crossen as Bobby Dwayne Dillahunt and Charles Starrat as Porter Padgett.

Performances continue on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 1 and 2, at 7 p.m., and on Sunday, Nov. 3, at 3 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the door and are $15 for adults and $12 for students, seniors and children.

It’s a fun-filled show and probably leans toward a “chick-flick” type of evening but it’s filled with one-liners and a lot of Southern-fried humor. Perfect for a date night but importantly a way to show your support for a local group providing entertainment and an artistic outlet for our community.

See you on the Boulevard.

Neal Moore is COE (chief of everything) at Neal Moore Creative, a PR, advertising and marketing consultancy. He lives in Maumelle and is native of Fordyce and once saw Johnny Cash perform at the Fordyce on the Belt Festival. Contact him at neal.moore@sbcglobal.net. Follow him on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, @kneelmore.

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