Editor’s Note: This is the 325th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON — Beginning in the mid-1950s and continuing for the next 25 years, the Junior Department of the Woman’s Club of Huntington presented “Gay Capers,” an amateur variety show.
The first of the annual shows was performed in the auditorium of the old Huntington High School in 1955. Subsequently, they were staged at the venerable Keith-Albee Theater. The shows were done on a Friday night and then repeated Saturday night.
In an article about the 1962 edition of the show, Catherine Bliss Enslow, the long-time society editor of the Huntington Advertiser, credited Mrs. Eugene Reams with coining the name “Gay Capers” for the amateur shindig. (For obvious reasons, that name wouldn’t work today.)
More than 100 club members, their husbands, their friends and a host of community volunteers took the stage to sing and dance in each year’s show. They also wrote the scripts, sewed the costumes, built the sets, sold the tickets and did everything else necessary to stage the annual event.
One year saw local television’s Dean Sturm pressed into service as the host of a teenage record hop. Another familiar face from television, Jule Huffman, sang in almost all the shows. Popular local car dealer Dutch Miller was the barker in one year’s circus number. Believe it or not, House of Delegates member Jody Smirl appeared as Mother Goose one year. And when Marshall University basketball coach Jule Rivlin dressed as a chorus girl, it must have been a sight to behold.
Proceeds from the yearly shows went to a number of local charities until escalating costs forced the club to bring down the curtain on the fun.