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'Ozark Jubilee' returns with new material

When the Ozark Jubilee made its Detroit Lakes debut last April, the Branson, Mo.-based stage show was such a hit that its organizers decided to come back for a second year.

"If we find an area where people really like what we do, we try to go back," says Randy Newman, who -- along with alter ego Doofus Doolittle -- has been with the show for 14 years now.

"When we were there last time, the people in Detroit Lakes just really seemed to enjoy the show -- so we decided to come back again."

The Ozark Jubilee returns to Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre this Monday, April 21, for a one-night-only show at 7:30 p.m.

But even if you went to see the show last year, Newman promises that you'll see something different this time.

"It's 80 percent different music and comedy than what we did the last time we were there," he says. "We have two new singers, and a lot of different songs and routines."

One new addition, which is sure to prove popular, is an Armed Forces tribute that will include patriotic songs and recognition of the veterans in the audience.

"We will recognize and pay tribute to all the different branches of the service," Newman says.

But one thing that hasn't changed is the presence of Doofus Doolittle --Newman's comic alter ego, who despite his hillbilly attire and apparent lack of intellect, is a superior fiddle player.

Newman, as fans of the show know by now, is a world-class violinist who has performed with country music stars including Ronnie Milsap, Jimmie Rogers, Johnny Rodriguez, Mel Tillis and Porter Wagoner.

Doofus Doolittle is a character of Newman's own creation; he keeps audiences doubled over with laughter throughout the first half of the show.

"If they leave the show with nothing else, they're just happy that they're not like Doofus," Newman jokes. "That makes them feel good."

For the second half of the show, Newman leaves Doofus backstage, and steps out in one of his $5,000, custom-tailored suits by Manuel of Nashville.

But he doesn't come out on stage alone. Newman has assembled a group of musicians and vocalists who are as talented as some of Nashville's finest.

New to the show this year are vocalists Dave Watson and Rachelle Lamb, as well as bass guitarist Rick McCuen.

"Dave is an extremely talented vocalist who covers a wide range of music styles," Newman says. "Rachelle... I've been around Branson for about 30 years, and she's about the best female singer I've ever seen. She will do Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette... and she does an outstanding job on the gospel song, 'How Great thou Art."

McCuen, who also doubles as a vocalist, has worked with a number of artists, among them Jim Stafford and George Jones.

Enjoying their second year on tour with Ozark Jubilee are musicians Steve Richey and Tyler Hall, while musical director Jory Clayton brings 10 years of experience to the show.

In addition to Detroit Lakes, the Jubilee will be traveling to St. Cloud before heading over to Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois for a 10-day, 12-show trek to eight different communities (some of which will host two shows).

"We love what we do and I think it shows," Newman says. "We love to entertain, and to see people smile and forget their problems for a couple of hours."

Tickets to Monday's 7:30 p.m. show are $20 for adults, $10 for students. For reservations or further information, call 320-259-5463, or visit the Historic Holmes Theatre's web page at (click on "Summer Entertainment and Rentals").

(Vicki Gerdes can be reached by e-mail at

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454