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PREMIERE: Hydock performs story of Audrey Sheppard Williams
By Jaine Treadwell
Dolores Hydock (above) transported guests to the We Piddle Around Theater Friday and Saturday night back to the life and times of Audrey Sheppard Williams, the Banks native that became the wife of legendary country musician Hank Williams. Hydock’s shared a human story of Williams’ life using three perspectives of Williams herself as well as her daughter and sister. Hydock performed the story for the first time anywhere at the theater.
“If you are going to tell my mother’s story, please make her a human being.”
Story performer Dolores Hydock responded to a daughter’s plea with the telling of both sides of a mother’s story, a mother, who after all, was a human being.
Hydock’s “Taking Sides: A different look at the life of Audrey Sheppard Williams” opened this weekend at the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge as an Alabama Bicentennial event.
Audrey Sheppard grew up in rural Pike County, met Hank Williams at a medicine show in Banks, married him and, by most all accounts, pushed him into stardom, into legendary status in the world of country music.
But how would a performer from Reading, Pennsylvania tell a story about Audrey Sheppard Williams? The answer probably was not what the audiences expected.
“Actually, we didn’t know what to expect,” said Dinah Kelsey of Troy, who is familiar with stories of Audrey Williams. “Dolores Hydock told Audrey’s story in her own voice and in the voices of Lucretia, Audrey’s daughter, and Lynette, her sister. She told Audrey’s story with honesty and sensitivity. The story was put together beautifully. The story was not what I expected, but it was much more than I could have imagined.”
Linda Wambles, Audrey’s niece, said the family members in attendance were more than pleased with the Hydock’s portrayal of Audrey Sheppard.
“Dolores had talked with family members but, I didn’t have any idea that she was going to sit and speak as if she were Lucretia and Aunt Lynette,” Wambles said. “What she said was what I know to be truthful and accurate.”
A lot of negative things have been said and written about Audrey Sheppard Williams.
“But we loved her,” Wambles said. “She was good to all of us, to my grandparents. She was Aunt Audrey. We knew all that was good about her. I’m proud for others to know that she was really a good, caring person who was loved very much.”
Arnold Sheppard’s grandad and Audrey’s granddad were brothers.
“I was proud to hear something positive about Audrey,” he said. “It was about time. She didn’t deserve all the bad things said about her.”
His wife, Pat, agreed.
“That was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen,” she said. “Like folks were saying after it was over, Audrey’s true story has finally been told. She deserved for the truth to be told.”
Peggy Faulk said the performance was an indication of how personality can affect the outcome of one’s life.
“Audrey did not want to live in a small town. She wanted to get out into the bright lights,” Faulk said. “She was driven. Sometimes it works out well, sometimes it doesn’t.”
Gail and Rob Thomas of Pensacola are patrons of the We Piddle Around Theater and are familiar with Hydock.
“Six of us came to the Audrey Williams story,” Gail Thomas said. “We all loved it. What a wonderful performance. I thought it would all be in first person but to hear the story from the voices of Audrey’s daughter and her sister made for a very believable story.”
Thomas said Audrey came across as a strong woman and it was possible that her strength worked against her.
“Audrey Williams was used to taking care of business, to doing for herself,” she said. “So, she turned to drinking and isolation instead of reaching out to those who loved her. If they had known, maybe things could have turned out differently. But either way, she was portrayed as a human being. We were proud of that.”