Belfast’s iconic Strand Arts Centre is set to be rocked with the songs and stage show of the Queen of County as the ultimate Dolly Parton tribute is back in the shape of performer extraordinaire, Donna Stewart.
The Holywood Road arts centre will see the 47-year-old packing the aisles in a packed show of fan favourites to life in a show that will have everyone singing along to the likes of 9to5, Coat Of Many Colours, I Will Always Love You and Jolene. The show not only has lots of Dolly hits, but also some of country rock and pop favourites. Something to please everyone!
Since it was taken over as not-for-profit project the Strand has been a hub for creativity – but it will not have seen or heard anything like Dolly’s Jukebox on March 21.
“I cannot wait to play the Strand,” said Donna.
“It is a building that resonates the history and culture of Belfast. Not just that it’s in the area I grew up so there’s a special feeling of homecoming to this show for me. To bring Dolly’s songs and style to the Strand is a privilege and we promise to rock it to the rafters!”
She has established herself as the embodiment of the Queen of Country but it was a dream that came true by chance.
“I started performing as Dolly in 2011,” said Donna. “It was just meant to be for one night at a friend’s birthday, but this led to a stream of bookings.”
After a brief break Donna is revved up and ready to go again with a series of dates that have seen standing ovations and rave reviews from audiences.
“Eventually I realised I couldn’t be without Dolly in my life any longer so thanks to my wonderful partner Niall Toman and the rest of the Dolly show crew Laura Hanna, Anne McAteer, Chantelle McAteer, Chris Logan and Tom Savage, we’re back and bigger than ever before. It’s very much a team effort.
“Let’s face it one of the best things I get to do is to dress up as Dolly.”
And, as always Donna and her team chose their tracks carefully.
“The show aims to emulate country icon Dolly Parton at her 80’s best right up until now, we also play songs from classic country, we aim to please everyone.
“We carefully chose the greatest hits that people love and remember and even if you’re not a die-hard Dolly fan you’ll certainly catch yourself toe tapping and singing along at some point throughout the night.
“Having spent many years in musical theatre both as a director and producer and a performer we make sure to include the pizazz and vibrancy of a West End show no matter how big or small the venue we play in,” explained Donna.
In the new fun, floor-filling show Dolly & Friends provide an energetic unforgettable night. Donna is a stickler for attention to detail and has studied dolly’s voice and performances since the 1980s – even the intonation of Dolly’s voice she uses to introduce songs.
During this show Donna plays custom made Dolly replica guitars & banjo, whilst wearing reproduction costumes made and updated in coordination with Dolly and with real hair wigs styled by the best hair stylists Northern Ireland has to offer – it literally takes thousands to be Dolly.
Donna Stewart will perform as Dolly Parton at The Strand, East Belfast on March 21. For tickets and more information go to www.facebook.com/DollysJukeboxBand
By Jonathan Traynor, Excalibur Press