Smoky Mountain Angel

The word "vintage" often brings up thoughts of something old, dusty and set aside in someone's basement. It can also refer to something timeless and sturdy, with just enough quirks to keep it fresh year after year. We bet we can guess which reference Dolly Parton's crew was inspired by when they dubbed her coming jaunt "The Vintage Tour."

From a "Hard Candy Christmas" to her "Coat of Many Colors" and the trials and tribulations of working "Nine to Five," Parton's musical career and her larger-than-life persona are big enough to fill a theme park, and they have--Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, is still one of the nation's most popular family destinations.

For critics who see Parton as a caricature who couldn't possibly continue to influence the next big things, we must direct your attention to The Office, Office Space and the recent proliferation of commercials by companies such as Burger King, Capital One and Sprint satirizing a hard day's work on the cube farm. They look awfully similar to Nine to Five, a film made in 1980 starring you-know-who as Doralee Rhodes, a feisty office worker who, with the help of some friends, incapacitates an overbearing boss. According to press reps for Parton, she's at work on an original score for a "Broadway-bound" musical version of the movie.

Speaking of things that are quirky, timeless and continue to have influence, the Dallas Summer Musicals have been part of Dallas' culture since 1941, when performances were held in an outdoor band shell in Fair Park. Having just wrapped up an extremely successful 2005 season, Dallas Summer Musicals is already anticipating its line-up for summer 2006, which includes Phantom of the Opera, Bombay Dreams, Mamma Mia! and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. "Vintage" performer and "vintage" performance company join forces this month when Dolly plays a fundraiser for the DSM's children's programs, including the DSM School of Musical Theatre and free musical tickets for disadvantaged children. Parton, whose rags-to-riches story has never been a secret to her fans (she grew up poor in a family of 12 children in Tennessee), is a fitting advocate for these programs, which foster hope for the future through performance and theater appreciation.

There are as many fun facts about Parton as there were colors in her famous coat, and here's another one: Dolly, the first sheep cloned at Texas A&M University, was named for her. Perhaps by raising support for the Dallas Summer Musicals, which actively support children in situations similar to Parton's, one day we'll see some Dolly clones of a different kind: a generation of entertainment and arts moguls who, because they were given the chance, will have enough talent and staying power to one day be considered "vintage" themselves.

 
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