News Story

River City Players Veterans Perform their Last Shows this Summer

Kira Abbott and Aaron Hollon

TAHLEQUAH – Singing and dancing to classic rock tunes during the summer months is nothing new for River City Players Kira Abbott, of Seminole, and Aaron Hollon, of Verdigris.

For the past several summers, these two performers have shined during the Northeastern State University Stars in the Summer Series. This summer marks a milestone for the two, it will be the last time they plan to be in River City.

Kira grew up singing and dancing. After she and her grandmother discovered the movie “Grease,” she began a long love affair with musical theater.

I had my first dance recital when I was five,” said Abbott. “It was a long time ago, and I still love it.

While Abbott grew up singing and dancing, Hollon’s only experience performing came from his years as a trombonist. His adviser, Arthur White, director of Jazz Studies at NSU, suggested he audition for the River City Players.

I wanted to stay in town over the summer, so I was looking for things to do, but I didn’t really want to get a job. Not a real job anyway,” said Hollon. “Arthur asked if I could sing and I said ‘I don’t know.’ We went to his office and he played through a piece on the piano. That was the first time I sang.

After performing with the River City Players for nearly a decade combined, Abbott and Hollon use their experience to help River City’s new performers adjust to life on stage.

We’ve had lots of late night talks about what to expect,” said Abbott. “I’m really proud of the new ones this year; they’re doing a really good job.

Abbott and Hollon agree that they have responsibilities as veterans to help the rookies out where they can, pick them up when they are down and lead by example.

There’s a lot of responsibility to encourage them,” said Hollon. “I remember my first day there, I was terrified. But I had the older people to look up to.

Marked with only the occasional wardrobe malfunction, their years as River City Players have been exceedingly rewarding.

I’ve been able to develop a singing voice and I think I have potential now,” said Hollon. “I thank Robyn Pursley, the artistic director, for giving me the opportunity to perform and for putting her faith in me when I had no performing experience at all.

Hollon, a newlywed, also thanks his wife, Kanae, for putting up with the long hours of rehearsal.

As for life after River City, Abbott hopes to travel, perform professionally and one day open a dance studio. Hollon plans to continue his education elsewhere by attending graduate school. Both agree that wherever life takes them, they will teach or perform what they do so well.

The NSU Stars in the Summer Series features two shows from the River City Players. “Twist and Shout” this summer to the sounds of Motown to the craze of the British Invasion, or travel back to the 1950s with the River City Players in “Rock Around the Clock” and bop to the beat of Elvis, sway to the sounds of the Shirelles and dream, dream, dream along with the Everly Brothers.

Twist and Shout” runs Thursdays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and “Rock Around the Clock” plays Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m. River City Players will perform at the Shawnee Street Theater, located on the corner of Downing Street and College Avenue.

Downtown Country also presents two shows this summer. “Rhinestone Country” brings to Tahlequah all the glitz and glam of Tinseltown, while “Country Roots” pays tribute to legendary stars such as Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family and Bob Wills.

Downtown Country performances are at the NSU Playhouse located at the corner of Downing and Muskogee. Show times for “Rhinestone Country” are Thursdays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. Show times for “Country Roots” are Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m.

The 2008 NSU Stars in the Summer Series is sponsored by the Tahlequah Area Tourism Council. Ticket prices are $12 for adults, $10 for NSU alumni and employees, $8 for seniors and groups of 20 or more and $6 for students and children. To reserve tickets, call (918) 458-2075.

For more information on the NSU Stars in the Summer Series, visit


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