Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Stars on stage

Staff Writer | January 24, 2024 1:20 AM

MOSES LAKE — The light fantastic was well and truly tripped Friday night at the Wallenstien Theater, as local residents showed their best dance moves at Dancing with the Moses Lake Stars.

“I think the community dancers all enjoyed themselves,” said Carla McKean, a board member of the Central Basin Community Concert Association, which partnered with the Utah Ballroom Dancing Company to bring about the fundraiser event. “They practiced all week and got to know each other better and helped each other find costumes and get ready. I think it just turned out to be a wonderful community event.”

The format was similar to the reality TV show “Dancing with the Stars.” Six local “celebrities” — Shannon Hintz, Chuck Yarbro Jr., Faith Hemmerling, Bryce Humpherys, Kimberly Ries, Ashley and Barry Sterner — volunteered to work with six professional dancers from the UBDC, training for a mirrored disco ball trophy and bragging rights. Celebrity judges were former Moses Lake Junior Miss and real estate agent Julie Johnson; DJ and entertainer Dale Roth; and choreographer, photographer and real estate broker Danielle Boss. Proceeds from the event went to the CBCCA to fund its concert series, McKean said.

The practices started Jan. 14 and lasted about an hour and a half each day, McKean said, followed by a dress rehearsal Friday and the final competition Friday evening. 

“Thanks to this show, the stock prices for both ibuprofen and vodka have gone up considerably,” said emcee and UBDC founder Mark Lowes.

Dancers could rack up votes in three ways. The judges awarded each dancer anywhere from one to 10 points, and the audience cast votes during the intermission after the performances. Each attendee had one vote that came with their ticket purchase, and could also purchase more tickets to vote for their favorite. Finally, each dancer had raised donations from sponsors, which gave them 10 votes for the first $1,000 they raised.

Hintz, owner of Hidden Meadow Event Center and a former Moses Lake School Board member, started the competition in Little Bo Peep regalia, dancing the foxtrot to “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” from the movie “Toy Story.”

“You have control and elegance, and I am so impressed you did not break your leg on that dress,” Boss told Hintz before giving her a nine.

Yarbro, an auctioneer who frequently volunteers for fundraiser auctions, was next, swing dancing to “Danger Zone,” from the movie “Top Gun.” He started the routine in a Tom Cruise-esque leather jacket, but partway through flung the jacket off to reveal a T-shirt with a bare chest painted on it.

“That was a surprise,” McKean said. “Even at dress rehearsal, he was in a white T-shirt.”

Boss gave Yarbro an eight.

“All these years, all these auctions you've gone to, you've been holding out on us,” she said.

“This was like watching a dance-off between gravity and grace,” Johnson said. “You’ve got a great day job, and I suggest you stick with that.”

She gave Yarbro a five, whereupon he launched into a rapid-fire auctioneer patter, driving her bid up to 10.

Jazzercise fitness instructor Hemmerling performed the cha-cha to “Barbie Girl.” 

“I'm about supporting the arts because I think it's very important,” Hemmerling said. "God uses beauty everywhere and it's our job to share it.”

“I think your routine had more twists and turns than my GPS,” Johnson told her after the performance, “so that was really cool.”

Humpherys, vice president of learning and student success at Big Bend Community College, did the paso doble to “Eye of the Tiger,” decked out in a stars-and-stripes boxer’s robe.

“Working with Bryce has been an absolute blast,” said Humpherys’ partner Grace Whipple. “He is so technically minded, wants to get every detail just right from the steps to the shaping to the performance.”

Lawyer and Blue Rouge Nursery owner Ries Ashley danced her way into a bit of a time warp, doing the 1970s-era hustle — in an equally ’70s sequined costume — to the 1980s “Ghostbusters” theme song.

“You took me back to my high school days,” Roth said.”I’m gonna give you an eight.”

The final dancer was Sterner, a mortgage loan officer and owner with his wife, Rebecca, of Rue & Sage Nursery. His performance was the mambo, set to the “Austin Powers” theme song. 

“I think you have a new name after watching you dance,” Roth told him. “I think we're gonna start calling you Barry Buns.”

Roth gave Sterner a 10.

With all the performances complete, the audience adjourned to the lobby to compare notes and do their voting. Yarbro’s costume was a popular topic of discussion.

“(I liked) Chuck’s full, um, attire,” said Lauren Hardt of Moses Lake.

“I loved Chuck’s shirt,” said 12-year-old Kolby Cobb. Her sister Shaye, 8, agreed but for a more personal reason.

“His wife was my preschool teacher,” she said.

“I really enjoyed the whole show,” said Shonnie Pena. “Everyone had a great dance performance.”

The dance company performed half a dozen numbers while the votes were tabulated, and then the verdict was in. To an audience drumroll, Yarbro was awarded the mirrored ball, having beaten out Ries Ashley by a mere four points. He planned to build a special case for the trophy, he said.

The event was a success, McKean said. About 450 tickets were sold, and although specific numbers weren’t available, she believed it raised at least $10,000 after expenses.

The CBCCA has never done a fundraiser before, saving always relied on membership fees. But costs are rising and it takes money to bring in quality concerts, McKean said.

She gave a shout-out to the people who donated to the dancers individually, as well as those audience members who bought additional votes at the show.

“And also the judges,” she added. “They were exceptional too … We tried to pick people that support and participate in the arts. They were the first three I asked to be judges, and they all said yes. They were excited to be a part of it.”

“We travel all over the United States doing shows similar to this and this is our second show this season out of 52 shows,” said Lowes. “You know what they say: You save the best for second.”

Joel Martin may be reached via email at

    Kimberly Ries Ashley, right, does the hustle at Dancing with the Moses Lake Stars Friday with Utah Ballroom Dance Company dancer Drew Innis.
    Barry Sterner gets his mojo on doing the mambo to the Austin Powers theme music with partner Sarah Reed at Dancing with the Moses Lake Stars Friday.
    Dancing with the Moses Lake Stars competitor Faith Hemmerling, left, dances the cha-cha to “Barbie Girl” with partner Bannon Frank.
    Shannon Hintz, left, and her partner Anthony Whipple enter the stage to be introduced to the audience at Dancing with the Moses Lake Stars Friday.
    Bryce Humpherys does the paso doble with partner Grace Whipple as Sarah Reed looks on at Dancing with the Moses Lake Stars Friday.