Following family footsteps
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
The annual Hays High School Dinner Show always has been special to the Pat and Penny McGinnis family, which has attended the event together for the past several years.
This year's 25th annual show not only will be a reunion for the McGinnis clan but for many others as well, as HHS vocal music director Johnny Matlock and the Chambers Singers celebrate the event's 25th birthday.
The theme of this year's show -- appropriately named "Reflections: 25 years of Music & Memories" -- is set for May 8, 9 and 10.
There are several memories tied up in Hays High music for the McGinnis couple -- even beyond the 25-year history of the dinner show.
Pat and Penny (Moss) McGinnis both were members of Pop Singers -- the former name of the select vocal performance group -- their senior year in 1987, while Penny also sang with the group as a junior.
That was a few years before the inaugural dinner show in 1990, but the couple still attended most of the shows after moving back to their hometown from Wichita in 2003, then really got into it a few years later.
Their daughter, Aubrey, was in Chamber Singers her junior and senior year, and her twin brother, Josh, joined her their senior year in 2011-12.
Just one year later, the youngest McGinnis sibling, Andrew, continued the family tradition and successfully auditioned for Chamber Singers as a sophomore. The twins both attend Fort Hays State University and will be on hand the Saturday night of the show to watch their younger brother perform.
"Music has always been a big part of our family," said Penny McGinnis, who began dating her future husband during the fall musical their junior year. "It's been huge."
Andrew McGinnis is one of 16 of the 24-member Chamber Singers group whose names already appear on memorial place mats as a member of the 2013 group. Each place setting will have a place mat with the names of Chamber Singers members from every year since 1990.
While there will be a lot of the same traditions, the dinner show also will feature something new this year. Usually held in Gym B at HHS, this year's dinner show will be in Gym A.
That, Matlock said, not only will allow a few more people to come each night, but it also will provide more room.
"We were cramped in Gym B, so people will be more comfortable," Matlock said. "We're encouraging alumni to come back for it. I thick it's going to be a lot of fun."
Alumni present will be treated to a special song, "Seasons of Love," from which one of the lyrics reads "celebrate, remember a year in the life of friends, how about love."
One of those "alumni" who continues to attend the dinner show is Joe Dolezal, former longtime vocal music director at Hays High who started the dinner show in 1990.
Dolezal is one of only three directors of the dinner show, along with Matlock and Elise Peterson.
Dolezal directed the first nine dinner shows, while Peterson and Matlock each directed eight. Matlock's accompanist now is Alexis Robinson, in her fourth year. The person whose name appears on the place mat the most is that of Pam McGowne, who served as accompanist for the first 13 dinner shows.
The dinner show serves as a fundraiser for a summer trip every other year for the group, which this year will perform in June at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
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Tickets for the 25th annual Chamber Singers Dinner Show at Hays High School can be reserved by calling HHS between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. at (785) 623-2600. Reservation deadline is May 2.
Cost of tickets for "Reflections: 25 years of Music & Memories" -- set for 6:30 p.m. May 8, 9 and 10 -- is $18 per person.
The chicken pasta meal is prepared by Premier Catering of Hays.
Members of this year's Chamber Singers are:
Seniors -- Aaron Jacobs, Aaron Kreutzer, Nick Overbey.
Juniors -- Jacob Balzer, Max Befort, Quin Brungardt, Alex Crowley, Conrad Hoffman, Andrew McGinnis, Ben Rajewski, Hans Rorstrom.
Sophomores -- Brandon Davidson, Aaron Jeffus, Jared Thom.
Seniors -- Molly Barnett, Jessie Carmichael, Amy Jordan, Shelby Matlock, Rachel Muirhead, Raeanna Peacock, Olivia Wiesner, Megan Zeman.
Juniors -- Shelbie Berens, Amanda Dinkel, Emily McPherson, Emily Peckham, Sydney Vahling.
Sophomores -- Rachel Nansel.