Big question: What’s happening in Grand Rivers, which is located just a stone’s throw from all of us? Surely you know the answer: Lots. How fortunate for folks in this area there is an amazing 285-seat venue, Badgett Playhouse, presenting family-friendly live variety shows – with many different shows playing all year round. Plus, our beloved Patti’s Restaurant will be reopening after its devastating fire two years ago – that happened on February 5, 2018, to be exact — along with the recent opening of another restaurant, T. Lawson’s.
First, let’s talk about how remarkable it is that we can attend high-caliber musical productions with first-rate performers at Badgett Playhouse. Their offerings range from decade shows such as "The Fabulous ’50s Show," "The Super ’60s Show" and "The Awesome ’80s Show" to specialty shows, such as "The Sounds of Memphis," featuring music from the birthplace of rock ’n’ roll, to a Southern Gospel show and even more, with special productions during the holidays. How many have you seen?
Let me tell you, POSH Photographer Harold Leath and I have both been Badgett Playhouse ”junkies” for quite a while — trying to attend at least one or more performances of Badgett Playhouse every year for some time. The playhouse, operated by Bill and Sara Minihan, has been in Grand Rivers since 2005. It was actually dedicated on the Fourth of July in that year – salute. Patriotism at the playhouse continues with most performances having a touching segment of the show dedicated to armed services in the cast and audience.
Both Bill and Sara not only perform in the shows, but take a variety of jobs in their productions, as well. Along the way, the two have become not only proud members of the Grand Rivers local community, but have taken more and more interest in world issues. Grace School, located in Guatemala and founded by the Minihans in 2016, has been one of their loves and causes, with them creating a nonprofit organization called ProjectGuat in 2016 to support it.
Bill and Sara went one giant step forward when they decided to expand the scope of their good works to help people in West Kentucky as well, and in October of 2018, their nonprofit became known as Kentucky Global Arts Initiative. The organization’s goals are to help local nonprofits raise money by holding special shows at the theater or elsewhere; to implement interactive language classes in West Kentucky schools so students can learn Spanish while interacting with teachers and students in Guatemala; to organize summer language camps, and more. Bill says that many of their goals are already happening. The playhouse has always done fundraising, but now it is sort of their focus to be a good place to help other nonprofits in the region raise money while building awareness.
Just imagine, while ALL this good stuff is happening at Badgett Playhouse, in local schools, Guatemala and elsewhere, the shows keep going on in Grand Rivers. Isn’t that wonderful for all of us? And, as for the shows themselves, they are pure entertainment. The playhouse is an awesome outlet for entertainers in the area to strut their stuff for the delight of audiences, similar to what they would otherwise have to go to places like Branson, Missouri, or Gatlinburg, Tennessee to see. Audience members are often overhead saying they just can’t believe they can see this quality of show so close to home.
One reason POSH Photographer Harold Leath loves to go to Badgett Playhouse is to see long-time friends with whom he has had the pleasure of performing in other venues in this area. A couple of those talented folks happen to be Alex Routon, who was a key person in organizing a recent POSH photo shoot for us at Badgett Playhouse, as well as Steven Keene. Why, Harold and Alex were in a production of "Will Rogers Follies "at Purchase Players in Mayfield back when Alex was only in the seventh grade. Harold was a little older than seventh grade at the time. Ha.
Steven Keene, also a joy to watch at Badgett Playhouse, and such a good friend of Harold and me, has been in productions, and also has lots of memories with Harold at both Purchase Players and at Playhouse In The Park in Murray. Again, Harold and I are so fortunate to have a chance to see so many talented folks at Badgett Playhouse — and just “tickled pink” to see familiar faces, as well as some new ones, each time we go to see a show.
A day of bliss
Recently, we went to Grand Rivers for what we now lovingly refer to as our “Badgett Bliss” when we saw TWO productions on the same day; toured Patti’s while still under construction; ate at the Patti’s Food Truck, which was serving a few of Patti’s favorite menu items during the rebuilding; and even toured T. Lawson’s, located next to Badgett Playhouse and across the street from Patti’s Restaurant, that has just opened as a bar and grill. More exciting details on T. Lawson’s later.
During that Day of Bliss, Harold and I not only got to eat a famous Patti’s Pork Chop between shows, but we were fortunate to interview Bill Minihan, who operates the playhouse, and also chat with Terry Mike Jeffrey, another of the stars of the show. The playhouse makes sure to say their productions feature ensemble casts, but because Terry Mike Jeffrey has been at the playhouse for a long time, and is both well-known and well-loved by many, it was indeed a treat to hear comments on what he had to say.
Terry Mike shared that if you have a passion for what you do, you will never have to work a day in your life. He also told that although he feels he has been blessed to work in places like New York and Las Vegas, he has loved working at Badgett Playhouse – and that it certainly feels like home. Terry Mike also related stories of meeting Priscilla Presley and said that of all the things he has learned in being an entertainer, it is trying to be yourself that is most important.
Those “things,” other than seeing the shows and interviewing Bill Minihan and Terry Mike Jeffrey that Harold and I did on our Day of Bliss in Grand Rivers, and other recent visits to Badgett Playhouse, were “icing on the cake” – or should I say high meringue on their famous pie? Some of those other highlights: admiring the pretty lighthouse at Lighthouse Landing, seeing the new T. Lawson’s upscale bar and grill, which is the newest part of the Patti’s group of restaurants (located across the street in the former So Cool location) and now the home of the gorgeous old bar that used to be at Mr. Bill’s; taking a peek inside Patti’s to see that yes indeed, they do seem to be successfully keeping the “feel” of the old Patti’s, but now with a neat, central atrium at its new entrance; and finding that Patti’s not only plans to continue to “dish-up” most of their same beloved foods, such as Strawberry Butter for its Flower Pot Bread, but will be serving it on tables that were saved from the fire, along with ALL the beautiful stained-glass windows saved, as well.
Such grand news about Grand Rivers
All of the news about the restoration of Patti’s and the opening of T. Lawson’s is good news, of course. And, it all ties together with the fact that having great places to eat in Grand Rivers — and an amazing venue for spectacular entertainment at Badgett Playhouse, so close to home — is a wonderful combination.
Check information on how you can include these places in your plans for this upcoming fall — and for the holidays, too. The "Variety Christmas Extravaganza" starts in early November, and that variety show, along with their other holiday productions, are always spectacular. You can even rock with Terry Mike Jeffrey at the playhouse on New Year’s Eve. Now isn’t that something?
You have no excuse. Travel anywhere you can, always. But don’t forget to go to Grand Rivers, take in a first-rate production at Badgett Playhouse and kick up your feet for some fun and great food while there. ENJOY.
IF YOU GO . . .
Badgett Playhouse, 1838 J.H. O’Bryan Ave., Grand Rivers, KY 42045 - 888-362-4223, www.badgettplayhouse.com.
Patti’s 1880’s Settlement, 1793 J.H. O’Bryan Ave., Grand Rivers, KY 42045; 888-736-2515; 270-362-8844; www.pattis1880s.com.
T. Lawson’s Grill, 1804 J.H. O’Bryan Ave., Grand Rivers, KY 42045 – 270-362-8844, www.tlawsons.com.