Friday, February 13, 2009


By Roy Heale

With a history steeped in Hollywood traditions you would expect Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley to be overflowing with great performances. You won't be disappointed as talented pianists in lounge bars, the singing servers at Cafe Italia plus numerous professional bands and singers, are on hand to delight one and all. In addition the movie theatre at Westfield Palm Desert Mall screens independent, alternative, documentary and foreign films.
But the most unique performers on stage are the world renowned Fabulous Palm Springs Follies. Celebrating the music of the 30s, 40s and 50s in Vaudeville style with a cast ranging in age from 55 to 85 years this show will amaze audiences of all ages. On a recent visit to Palm Springs I was treated to a night at the follies.
Whatever you might think, don't be misled by the age of these cast members because you will be dazzled by their agility, their strong voices and their stamina. And if that's not enough the spectacular costumes, creative sets and guest performers will all leave you mesmorised by the end of the three hour spectacular.
The Fabulous Plam Springs Follies has become a local institution since it was founded and now in its second decade of continuous performances it shows no signs of slowing down---like its cast members! Another Palm Springs institution---The historic Plaza Theatre opened in 1936 and located on Palm Canyon Drive---is home to the Follies and it is fitting that this history-making show takes place in a charming, neon encrusted, storybook renovated old movie house. Performances are five days per week from late October to mid-May and this season's theme is a salute to the legendary road Route 66 in song and dance routines.
Each year the show increases in popularity and one of the reasons for this growth is the sheer extravagance of the production's costumes, lighting and sets which have to be seen to be believed. Costume creation begins about eighteen months prior to each season's opening night and they cost up to $35,000 each. Amazing as this sounds you have to see them to believe it.
Producers Mary Jardin and Riff Markowitz---who is also the evening's host and comedian---have discovered a winning combination of amazing talent and unique entertainment from times gone by which they turn into eye-popping spectaculars each season. All of the performers have enjoyed a previous career on stage, in television, in commercials or other live performances and the talented Follies' producers have found a way to keep them busy in their years which might normally be set aside for retirement. And you can see that all the cast members enthusiastically love their career revivals.
Even the Guinness Book of World Records has recognised the Palm Springs Follies' performer Dorothy Kloss at 85 years old as the “Oldest 'Still Performing' Showgirl in the World.” As a precocious Chicago teenager Dorothy taught a young Bob Fosse how to tap dance and she is still tap dancing today!
So make a date with the legendary long-legged chorus line and their Fred Aistaire style gentlemen partners that will entertain you, make you laugh and leave you stunned by their charismatic extravaganza. Be sure to reserve your tickets well in advance as most performances play to sold out houses. But miss this great performance at your own folly!

No comments:

Post a Comment