Benton County Fair & Rodeo is lucky to have Mitch Hider, now in his 26th year as roving MC and performer with his “Music Box Revue,” a whimsical miniature vaudeville theater, will be celebrating 26 years at the 2018 Benton County Fair.
“A quarter of a century+ of performing in my bright blue cardboard-box theater is a milestone worth a whistle,” says Hider, an award-winning whistler who has been at the Fair since 1979 as an entertainer, emcee for special events, and walk-around greeter with his invisible dog, Roscoe.
“It’s a joy to be the one-man cast for a program of 20 songs and routines -- everything from Jiminy Cricket, Franco the Circus Flea, whistling, scat singing, tap dancing, opera arias, blues and country western, standards and more, using a variety of hats, props and instruments.”
The selections haven’t changed over the years, nor has the price of a song for a quarter, which is inserted in a tiny clown’s mouth to get the show going.
Hider got the idea for The Music Box after seeing a horn player in a refrigerator box in San Francisco in the 1960s. It’s named after Irving Berlin’s Music Box Revue Theater in New York in the 1920s. He created it especially for the Fair, but it’s been to other places, including the Corvallis Fall Festival and the Linn-Benton Farmers Market.
“Much of what I do as a variety entertainer is incorporated into the Music Box Revue,” says Hider.
“The songs and humor are from the last century, but kids seem to appreciate the concept more than adults,” says Hider. Favorite selections over the years include “Tiny Terry, The Tap Dancer,” “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah”, and “The Old Ball Game”, but some kids want to see President Lincoln reading the Gettysburg address.
“What’s also fun for me is that I have no control over the order of the show. The audience makes the selection from a posted list while I’m behind the curtain,” says Hider.