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The second annual Frohliche Dorf show: Mission Impossible?

Photo by Christina LoweOnce again, the live variety show, Frohliche Dorf, packed the Performing Arts Center of Central Christian School with hundreds of folks who were treated to a roundup of incredible talent and a healthy dose of laughter, with all proceeds from the evening going to the CCS music department.

The Feb. 11 sold-out performance began with the Dorf’s own Doofendorf Polka Band and their rendition of the Mission Impossible theme, as “secret agent” Gideon Dunster slunk across the stage, ultimately introducing the show with a sign, Frohliche Dorf II. The point? Last year’s show was such a success, it had audience members in stitches. Could a second attempt come close to the first? 

The show, presented on-stage in an old-time radio format complete with a panel of voice actors, sound effects, four-part commercial jingles, and live musical guests, was hosted by Kidron’s Bruce Detweiler Breckbill. This year welcomed back popular guest Frying Pan Dan, played by Dan Hunsberger of Johnstown, Pa., as well as another episode of Clip and Clop, the Buggy Talk guys, who discussed--and solved--the problem of annoying engine emissions. New skits had actors portraying framed photos of former graduates, fictional historians humorously delving into the musical roots of the area, and a glimpse into the popular game show Chepardy. 

This year’s special guests were Jon Detweiler, the Dalton man who, along with cousin Ben Swartz, canoed from the Sugar Creek near his home to the Gulf of Mexico, and Greg Miller, whose Big Year in birding made him the topic of a book by the same name and a feature length film released in 2011 with Jack Black portraying Miller’s character. 

Men’s ensemble Sonnenberg Station delighted the crowd with a lively performance of Johnny Schmoker, a Pennsylvania-Dutch children’s folk song first published in 1863. 

But quite possibly the most impressive moments of the evening were when vocal powerhouse Leslie Parker Barnes took the stage. Parker Barnes is the minister of praise and worship at Akron’s Arlington Church of God. She is also the founder and executive director of YEPAW, Youth Excellence Performing Arts Workshop, a group that, for two decades, has been encouraging youth to pursue lifestyles of excellence through the arts. Parker Barnes drew thunderous applause with her incredibly moving performance of Safety, accompanied by men’s ensemble Sonnenberg Station and a newly-assembled women’s chorus. Parker Barnes returned to perform Unity, and brought the evening to a close by joining the house band, Honeytown, on a grooving performance of Jesus on the Mainline. 

The night wrapped up with an audience sing-along of Leaning on the Everlasting Arms and the show’s theme song, The Happy Wanderer. 

So, was the mission a success? Creator and co-writer Tim Shue, who worked with Brenda Troyer to create the evening’s script, seemed to think so. As audience members filed out to meet the special guests and enjoy refreshments in the gymnasium, Shue called out an encouraging promise: “See you next year!” And if this year’s show was any indication, next year’s event will be even bigger and better than ever. 

For more information on Central Christian School or future performances, contact the school at 330-857-7311.

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