Country clotheswashers at the Ute |

Country clotheswashers at the Ute

Alexis States plays the washboard with a brush at a dress rehearsal for “Honky Tonk Laundry” at the Ute Theater on Nov. 9.
Rich Allen/Post Independent

Playing the washboard has never before been so appropriate.

Alexis States and Jennetta Howell think the musical “Honky Tonk Laundry” was made for them and the Rifle area.

The country themes, off-the-cuff banter, in-your-face plot and live music allowed the duo to meld together their lives from their friendship, families and musical endeavors and put it all on the Ute Theater stage in front of some two-dimensional washing machines and a laundry folding counter.

“That’s what’s really going to blow people away,” Howell said. “They’ve seen us do legit theater. I’ve done straight theater. I’ve done musicals, and I’ve done comedy. It’s really fun to do this combination.”

The play by Roger Bean is confined entirely to the Wishy Washy Washateria set in Tennessee, where the two characters foible their way through relationship troubles and chase musical dreams.

Howell and States are familiar with the slapstick comedic musical style. Both are veterans of the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue.

They have long wanted to bring the piece to the area, approaching Jacquie Johnston — Howell’s mother — with the script several years ago. Johnston would take on the jack-of-all-trades director role.

But the family connections wouldn’t end there. Johnston enlisted her granddaughter — Howell’s daughter — Kaylie Howell as stage manager to start throwing her into the deep end of running a show. States spends most of her time as the front person for A Band Called Alexis and enlisted her band mates to play all the accompanying music on the set, a unique aspect of the show.

Instruments in hand, the band members will be alongside the characters for the second act.

“These boys, these men are kind of like a second family to me,” States said. “It’s really fun to get to do something different with them and push them. We’re just bringing a new feel to musical theater by having the band right here on the stage.”

Jenetta Howell sings in front of members of A Band Called Alexis at a dress rehearsal for “Honky Tonk Laundry” at the Ute Theater on Nov. 9.
Rich Allen/Post Independent

The show has been a way for the show runners to work their way back into action through COVID-19. It requires a small cast, and they’ve kept a lot of the showrunning within the family.

But it’s now time for an audience, and landing the prestigious Ute Theater as a venue only makes it that much more special.

“This space is known for bringing in musical acts, not necessarily musical theater,” States said. “I’m really excited to see how the community responds and comes out and enjoys it, because the venue is perfect for it. They’ve been so accommodating, and I think this just opens up some doors to a world of possibilities that could happen here.”

“Honky Tonk Theater” runs the next two weekends at the Ute Theater. On Fridays and Saturdays, the show starts at 7 p.m. On Nov. 14, a Sunday matinee show will be performed at 2 p.m. Doors open one hour prior to showtime.

Tickets range from $5 for children 5 and under to $20 for adult general admission and $35 for table seating. They are available for purchase at

“Two girls from Tennessee with big hair and cheating boyfriends, bad husbands and broken hearts, sunsets, country western songs, dancing — they’re going to put it all up there and entertain us,” Johnston said.

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