MOUNT VERNON — Best known for his distinctive, powerful voice, complex compositions, and dark emotional ballads, Roy Orbison will be portrayed at the upcoming Chautauqua on Thursday by Jeff Putnam. Putnam has portrayed Buddy Holly, Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams over the years and bringing another musical pioneer to life is something he has made his specialty.
Orbison grew up in Texas and began singing in a rockabilly/country and western band in high school until he was signed by Sun Records in Memphis. His greatest success came with Monument Records between 1960 and 1964, when 22 of his songs placed on the Billboard Top Forty, including “Only the Lonely,” “Crying,” and “Oh, Pretty Woman.” His career stagnated through the 1970s, but several covers of his songs and the use of “In Dreams” in David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” revived his career in the 1980s. In 1988, he joined the supergroup Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne and also released a new solo album. He died of a heart attack in December that year, at the zenith of his resurgence.
His life was marred by tragedy, including the death of his first wife and his two eldest sons in separate accidents.
A Chautauqua, for those unaware of what it is, is a first person living history, presenting an historical person in costume and addressing the audience as if they were alive. The setting of their portrayals is given, and at the end of the performance the audience can ask the portrayer questions that are answered either in character or out of character depending on the question.
Admission is free. The Roy Orbison Chautauqua will be presented at ThePlace@TheWoodward, 111 S. Main St., in downtown Mount Vernon Doors open at 6 p.m. For more information on this show or to view the upcoming shows, or call 740-392-6102.
Published on May 30, 2012