'Hormel Girls' share stories in song, dance
From 1947 to 1953, the Hormel Girls were a marketing sensation, traveling across the country in their 35 white Chevrolets to promote Hormel Foods products.
Each Hormel Girl has her own story to share, but for Summerset Theatre this week, the Hormel Girls Musical depicts a combination of the girls' experiences.
With six girls representing the Hormel Girls in the 11-person cast, the show is two hours of singing and dancing from the "real" Hormel Girls era, and according to performer Samantha Johnson, that's what sets it apart from other plays she's acted in.
"It's different because it's real," Johnson said. "When I tried out, I didn't even know what the Hormel Girls were, so we all had to do a lot of research."
Wednesday night was a full house in the theater, and the musical's practical jokes made the audience come alive with laughter.
According to Perrin Post, who conceived the idea for the musical, the practical jokes are actual incidents from different girls' experiences. With more than 60 girls traveling together for months at a time, the musical illustrates a few of the many laughs they shared.
The story itself couldn't be told without Jay C. Hormel in the mix, and Gunnar Peters characterizes him as a confident, caring Hormel president with a soft spot for his Hormel Girls.
As he states multiple times during the show, "you've got to have guts to make it big in this world."
The show illustrates how innovative it was to create an all-women sales team in the 1950s.
"We didn't realize how big of a story the Hormel Girls was," Judy Junker said. "It's fun to get to know the background through the play because I didn't know much about them and it's really an amazing story."
Available after the show is the Hormel Girls mini-museum which includes a collection of photographs, video clips and artifacts from the original Hormel Girls.
Martha Chancellor and Kathy Schubert were surprised by how accurate the musical was, especially when seeing the mini-museum.
"I'm so surprised that it's actually history," Schubert said. "We walked in (the Hormel Girls Mini-Museum) and a video clip was playing that sounded and looked exactly like the play."
"It's been documented so well," Chancellor said. "The depth of the singing and dancing is amazing. I would highly recommend it."