‘Dino’s TV Variety Show’ ends on a high note

The family production of “Dino’s TV Variety Show” will have a grand finale this week, after playing the Grand Strand for more than eight years.

After its yuletide version, “Dino’s TV Christmas TV Special,” plays Tuesday, the 2-year-old sister show, “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” will throw a last kiss on Thursday. Both shows start at 7 p.m. at The Grand Theatre in Surfside Beach, with a dinner option also available at 6 p.m.

Cindra Marshall co-produces both musicals with her husband of 33 years, Hank Marshall, owner of Marshall Light and Sound. She said, “To everything, there is a season,” and they’re content with their conclusion, keeping many memories they shared with audiences at the Grand Theatre and their other borrowed venues: the Palace Theatre in Myrtle Beach, the Tara Theater at Litchfield Beach & Golf Resort, as well as a local Shriner’s building, and 2001 Nightclub’s Starlight Room, just north of Myrtle Beach.

The parents of three also have had help from daughter Rainee Kite, with parts in both shows, and son Travis Marshall, who direct the lighting.

Cindra Marshall enumerated a list of artists and TV stars to whom they’ve paid tribute, besides the show’s namesake, Dean Martin and his Golddiggers: Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis Jr., Willie Nelson, Doris Day, Phyllis Diller, Judy Garland, Ethel Merman, Marilyn Monroe, Dolly Patron, Dinah Shore, Nancy Sinatra, Jeannie from “I Dream of Jeannie,” Granny and Ellie May Clampett from “The Beverly Hillbillies,” and sister troupes in the Andrews, Lennon and McGuire names.

Question | After Dino, which artist has garnered the most grab with audiences?

Answer | It depends who’s in the audience. ... Marilyn Monroe always gets a huge response because she’s so iconic, and everybody in every age group gets her. ... The routine of Marilyn is always really fun and popular just because of the way of the words, and there’s something really fun about always breaking somebody up and letting someone in a fun spirit. Also Judy Garland.

Q. | What tribute artist’s role has “grown” the most in respect, long-overdue acclaim or resonance with the times?

A. | All of our characters have evolved through the years ... with different routines, costumes, wigs and looks. ... But I think our Dean Martin ... has really developed and really just gotten stronger.

Q. | How did “Dino’s” originate on stage?

A. | We actually began as somewhat of a spinoff from “The Rat Pack” at the Palace Theatre. ... After I was doing some background singing for “The Rat Pack,” the guy who played Dean Martin in those days asked me about the idea, and we kind of took it from there. ... After being there for a couple of years, we decided to move it and take it to another level. ... When Hank got involved, with special effects and screens ... that’s when we added another dimension.

Q. | How long did you two mull this decision to close this era on stage, even though availability for corporate shows remains on your map for the future?

A. | We were thinking about it even before this year. We did not do a show this year until the fall, and we had done only one season of “The Marvelous Wonderettes.” ... When The Grand Theatre asked to go there, it made us want to keep it all going for one more season, and we’re really glad we did.

For any show to run eight years, and to have people come back and see us over and over and over ... they still feel like they see something different all the time. Some stuff there is familiar, but we added some new characters and routines. Each environment has a different feel as a whole. ... I think what kept Hank and me going as long as we did, we really wanted to honor and take care of our talented cast.

Q. | What common denominator has prevailed for guests and on and off the stage at the various sites for your productions?

A. | The feel with these shows, it’s something that shows how well it works in any environment. We do our best to make it feel warm and intimate. ... It’s nostalgia and fun. You may come in as a stranger, but you may leave as a friend, even if come in by yourself. ... The minute they walk in, we want to make friends with them. ... It’s just a really special thing, because smells, songs and different things can immediately trick your brain into remembering something from when you were a child. Both of our shows do that, bringing them back to a simpler time, and they’re sitting among friends. ...

Both shows are audience interactive, and warm-fuzzy nostalgic. Other than that, they are very, very different.

Q. | How has Myrtle Beach changed since almost three decades ago, when you planted yourselves to raise a family?

A. | When we moved here, we had trailers full of state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment ... and we were trying to sell them, but nobody in Myrtle Beach was into buying any of that. That was pre-Calvin Gilmore. When Calvin came and opened The Carolina Opry, all the standards got raised in all productions.

Q. | How extra special an accomplishment does succeeding long term as a family production, even without corporate backing, score in your book?

A. | Hank and I produced shows around the world before we settled here. Our last three years on the road were almost exclusively for the USO. ... When we got back into show business, with “Dino’s,” we were really just proud of this baby – this is our baby. ... We weren’t in the loop of a corporate machine. It takes a fortune to put the word out the way the show deserved. We don’t have a fortune; we’re two individuals, and we’re proud of keeping it alive .. and getting all the accolades and awards that we have. ...

Leaving it is bitter sweet. Every year, I have felt like we can’t stop it now. ... But you also have to know when it’s time and when it’s run its course.