For the 20th time, the show must go on!

Minot’s Heritage Singers group, which opens its annual variety show tonight at The Vegas Motel, carefully guards the secret of the show’s theme. Often a parody of a popular film or television program, the theme probably won’t repeat past selections such as last year’s motif, “Pirates of the Mouse River,” “Young Frankenstein” or “M.A.S.H.”

“Because this is the 40th anniversary of the Heritage Singers and our 20th variety show,” member John Scheeler said, “the theme might involve some time travel.”

Whatever the theme, the show is certain to involve imaginative costumes and sets.

“We are an all-male chorus,” Sheeler said, “but you can’t do ‘M.A.S.H.’ without a Hot Lips Houlihan.”

The variety show, which runs through Saturday this week and also Feb. 20-22, begins with dinner at 6 p.m. with the show at 7 p.m. Scheeler urged patrons to come early to browse the many items and services offered in a silent auction.

Whatever the theme, it will tie together a variety of solos and duets, small groups and some numbers that involve most of the 46 vocalists. Musical styles and genres are just as diverse, from country to classic, rock to ballad, rock and pop tunes.

The singers are accompanied by longtime pianist Lynn Jensen. The group has also formed a band from its membership which performs in some numbers.

The costumes are a contrast to the tuxedo-clad formality the Heritage Singers display at annual December engagements, the “Messiah” at Minot State University and later the “Festival of Lessons and Carols” at First Lutheran Church.

Their excellent reputation has extended far beyond the area. The group has toured Norway, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Washington, D.C.

“We plan a trip to Italy in June,” Scheeler said. “One high point will be singing at a Mass at the Vatican.”

He said the Heritage Singers often appear with other choruses in the areas where they are scheduled.

“The Heritage Singers have added quite a few new people recently,” he said. “They are serious about rehearsals. One member drives to Minot from Tappen, about 150 miles one way, for our weekly rehearsals.”

The Heritage Singers have recorded several albums from their diverse repertoire.

“Mark Schnabel is our musical director,” Scheeler said. “Dave Jensen, Mike Jensen and Mark Witteman also direct.”

Variety show tickets, which are $20 each, are available through the Minot Area Council of the Arts at its new office in Suite 2 of the Artspace Building at 3 Main St. S, or by telephoning 833-6585.