Martha and Ronnie Arnold
founded the Great Pretenders
as a way to raise money for their local Rotary Club
and fill Martha's empty nest syndrome.
And it's all thanks to the ingenuity of two special folks in the tri-counties community: Ronnie
and Martha Arnold of Gleason.
a member of the Gleason Rotary Club
, the two were also mindful that money needed to be raised to fund a softball field project to which the club was already financially committed.They mused how great it could be if they could stage a major concert in Gleason, but knew the costs would be prohibitive.
It occurred to Ronnie
that they could perform the concert themselves, and pretend to be famous performers.
Carey was a dead ringer for Ray Stevens and just as crazy, I was really into Patsy Cline, and Ronnie
always liked Roy Orbison ...
The 1994 stage was stark in comparison with today's professional production as Ronnie
and Martha strive each year to improve their product.
Instead, says Ronnie
, "We ended up having two shows.
After six weeks of at least weekly rehearsals, which may take place at two or three locations per week during prime season, setting up for an event takes about four hours, Ronnie
On a brighter note, Ronnie
relates the project also gives parents the opportunity to "act like a kid again."
, "Part of the joy is that it's not a talent contest; we take whatever they bring us and we're always amazed ... they come and blossom."
handles the stage production while Martha performs as emcee and assist with special effects and spot lighting.
"It takes all three hands," Ronnie
"And church," Ronnie
adds.The couple attends First Methodist Church
in Gleason.Martha works at the Bank of Gleason while Ronnie is employed across the street from the bank at AMA Insurance Company.