Final preparations are underway as the WILLow LeaVes of Hope stage transforms into the iconic Grand Ole Opry for the opening of “An Opry Tribute Music Show” presented by the Actors’ Studio of Hope and WILLow LeaVes of Hope beginning at 7 p.m. Friday.

The nearly two-hour long show features five local talents portraying country greats from Patsy Cline and Elvis Presley to Johnny Cash and The Judds, says the show’s director and co-producer Naomi Fleetwood-Pyle.

“I wrote the show,” Pyle says. “I am the emcee, but we will have different people introducing others at different times.”

This show, Pyle says, was inspired by and builds on the momentum garnered from the Hee Haw show the Actors’ Studio of Hope presented earlier this year. 

“That Hee Haw show was incredible,” she says. “There are people who are still talking about it.”

By the time the show closed, it had brought in more than 900 visitors over the course of seven shows that all sold out, Pyle says.

As she anticipates a 2023 return of that wildly successful production, Pyle hopes this Opry tribute proves just as popular.

Ginny Pugh-Spillman is thrilled to be back on the WILLow LeaVes stage and says she can’t wait to share the spotlight with amazing talent.

Spillman, who is certainly no stranger to the stage, admits that growing up she was “terribly embarrassed by” her extremely low voice. It was that uncomfortableness that led her to feeling more than comfortable portraying a country music icon.

“I wanted to sing higher as other ‘normal’ girls did,” Spillman says. “So, understandably, Patsy Cline and Karen Carpenter were two of my favorite singers. I think my passion and expression come[s] from studying her, learning about her struggles and triumphs.”

Spillman says audience members can look forward to hearing Cline classics including “Sweet Dreams,” “Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray,” and, of course, “Crazy.”

But that’s not all she has in store.

“I will also be paying tribute to Tammy Wynette with ‘Apartment #9,’ ‘He Loves Me All the Way,’ and ‘Stand by Your Man,’” she adds.

Pyle says when she envisioned this production, she had a roadmap in mind. And the memories it offers will take audience members on a musical journey of sorts should they choose to follow.

“For those who have been [to the Opry], I hope they can walk down Memory Lane,” Pyle says. “Even the people who have never been, this may inspire them to go.”

Pyle adds she purposely brought together acts that not only complement one another but offer a good representation of the best of the Opry, she says

A far cry from prepping for a traditional stage play, this show has been much easier, Pyle admits.

“I get my people lined up, I do a musical line-up and we have two acts,” she explains. “The only thing I have to learn to remember is the songs and that is what everyone does. There isn’t any scene blocking, there is no having to know where to stand when you speak, and there are less rehearsals. All-in-all, it’s an easier show to put on.”

Not only is Pyle producing and directing, but she’s also performing.

Pyle and set director Falicia Whited will follow their fun rendition of “Harper Valley PTA” in the first act with a tribute to the mother-daughter duo The Judds in the second act. As she anticipates the arrival of the red wig she ordered just for this occasion, Pyle says she is nearly ready to portray the late Naomi Judd.

Oh, and when the pair haven’t been rehearsing their duets, they’ve been swinging hammers and other instruments of creation designing a set that is intended to be as close to the real Opry stage in its representation as one can get without actually going there, Pyle says.

Veteran actor and co-producer Jason Bowser, who is portraying the Man in Black and King of Rock and Roll respectively, describes the set as incredible and says Whited spent a lot of time creating a backdrop that truly transports the audience to the Opry.

It’s been truly remarkable how everything with this show has simply come together, he says, but it hasn’t been without some hiccups.

“Personally, preparing for this show has been interesting and challenging because it’s not just about singing,” Bowser says. “It’s also becoming the performer on stage and getting the audience to believe it.”

As opening night draws closer, Bowser is continuing to perfect his portrayals of Johnny Cash and Elvis, he says.

“I don’t think you can do an Opry without Johnny,” he says. “And I don’t think you can do any musical without Elvis.”