Lion's Club show about ready to go

February 27, 2000|By BRUCE HAMILTON

CLEAR SPRING - Practice makes a variety show, especially in two-part harmony.

The Clear Spring Lions Club's 49th annual performance is coming up on March 10, 11 and 12, and about 40 singers have been warming up for weeks. The chorus began practicing twice weekly in early January.

Director Burma Miles said she is adding two-part harmony to the songs this year. "It's tough," she said. "But I'm impressed. They work so hard." Miles, who used to perform with the Baltimore Symphony, has directed the show for several years.

"She does an excellent job. She has more patience than Job," said Dan Fleming, the event's longtime emcee.

On a recent Sunday, Miles stood on a stage inside St. John's United Church of Christ with her hands flying. She pointed, clapped and beckoned to the singing crowd as she led them through "Battle Hymn of the Republic."


The voices swelled in unison with the final line, "His truth is marching on." Miles drew them into a crescendo with arms upraised. When the notes faded, she smiled. "That's a great finale number," she said.

Miles had divided the crowd into separate groups to make harmony easier, but she decided to mingle them. "Why don't we try an experiment? Sit next to someone who sings a different part than you do. Let's see how it goes," she said.

People rose and switched locations. When the song began, the voices blended. "You would not believe how much better it sounds with you all mixed up," she said. "It's harder to sing, too," said one chorus member.

"It's remarkably better," Miles said. "It's beautiful. We need to keep working this hard."

The minstrel and variety show includes skits, songs and commercials. It is the Lions' largest annual fund-raiser, and last year the show collected $6,000 for scholarships, athletic awards, eyeglasses and exams for needy children and other community services.

The show's musicians include Kathy Niswander on piano, Erin Fleming on bass guitar, W. T. Fleming on rhythm guitar and Mitch Funk on drums. Tom Knode, who has been in the show 32 years, leads the actors in a role as "Huckster."

Harry Bryan will perform as "Kneel Carat," Donald Mellot plays "Slappy Jim" and Norris Belt plays "Squiggy." An hour before the show, Tri-State Stage Band, directed by Bernie Wolfe, will perform.

Bryan said the show brings the chorus together. "We're like one big family," he said. "The same people come back every year. We lose some older people and young ones take their place."

The shows are in Clear Spring High School's auditorium at 8 p.m. March 10 and 11 and at 2 p.m. March 12. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children. Tickets are sold at the door but can be pre-purchased from Lion's Club members.

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