Ten Penny Opera exiting ‘retirement’|Trio to perform during a fundraiser at Turnage

Published 7:54 pm Friday, September 25, 2009

Lifestyles & Features Editor

The Beaufort County-based trio Ten Penny Opera is coming out of retirement, at least for one evening.
Tommy Webster, Janet Cox and Charles Cox are among the headliners for the Oct. 3 “Lavish Night of Entertainment” benefit at the historic Turnage Theater in downtown Washington.
Discounting jam sessions for friends in the Cox family’s living room, the fundraiser marks the trio’s first public performance in a while.
“This is the time we’ve performed together since around 2006 during Music in the Streets,” Janet Cox said. “Tommy moved to Wilmington, and that kind of put a crimp in things.”
Ten Penny Opera jumped at the chance to reunite for the fundraiser, which benefits the Turnage Theaters Foundation. The show begins at 7 p.m., but the evening actually kicks off at 6 p.m. with an artist gallery in the theater’s lobby.
Tickets for the one-night-only show are $15 or $22, and they may be purchased from the Turnage box office; for more information, call 252-975-1191 or visit turnagetheater.com.
According to legend, Charles Cox and Webster are the founding fathers of Ten Penny Opera; Janet Cox “weaseled” her way into the act, thereby providing a touch of beauty (she is, after all, a former Miss Beaufort County) and class. But not too much class.
The trio is known for the humorous, sometimes bawdy, original tunes they perform. With all three providing vocals, the gents on guitar and the beauty on tambourine, they’re bound to make a splash during the benefit performance.
“We’ll do a 15-minute set, four or five songs,” Janet Cox said. “We’re hoping to do at least one original song and then some James Taylor and Crosby, Stills &Nash-type stuff.”
Ten Penny Opera hit its peak with the release of a CD titled “An American Dream.” Copies of the recording will be available for purchase the night of the show. Tunes include “Frog Names Marvin,” “Ebenezer’s Farm,” “I Love Hating You,” “Get Yourself an Ugly Girl” and “Diarrhea Blues” (don’t ask).
Many of the songs performed by Ten Penny Opera are original tunes written by Charles Cox.
“A lot of those songs are ones I wrote years ago,” he said. “I wanted to do some songs to get people talking, and I wanted to put down songs I’ve written for my daughter to have. There’s some funny stuff and then there’s some serious songs.”
The benefit will mark the first time Ten Penny Opera has performed together on the Turnage stage, although Janet Cox has danced there, including a turn during last year’s Dancing With OUR Stars fundraiser for Eagle’s Wings.
Joining Ten Penny Opera on the playbill will be a cast of entertainers from Beaufort County and the surrounding areas.
Also slated to perform are Dennis Modlin’s Back Creek String Band, the Donald Underwood Thompson Band, Dick Feyer with his tribute to Elvis Presley, Green Grass Cloggers, the Rev. Scott Wilkinson, East Carolina University School of Theater and Dance students, Buzz and Tootsie Smart, Barbara and Gene Geesey, Shannon Smith and Courtney Stevens.