As has been the case for 27 consecutive years, the 2010 Snowdown Follies are tawdry, bawdy and downright awful. I
wouldn't miss it for the world.
The show is so bad, in fact, I've already seen it twice. Tuesday's media preview is probably the cast's toughest
audience, filled with jaded reporters, local VIPs, many of whom are the brunt of most of the jokes, and a slew of
hangers-on who have seen more than their share of Follies over the years. And being a Tuesday, many aren't as
festive" as the weekend crowds, as many of us actually had to wake up and go to work the next morning.
By contrast, Thursday's Gala Premiere, attendance of which can be attained only through treachery or lots of prayer
and clean living, is a full-on party. The Gala gets the cast prepared for the weekend's main performances.
That first night can be a little flat, but it's a good chance for us to see what's working or what we have to crank
up or cut out by the real shows," said Tim Maher, who is back for the third time in four years as one of four emcees.
Maher performs as the late Sen. Edward Kennedy alongside Pamela Anderson," aka Karen Rose in the Follies' B Cast.
The A Cast emcees are Sandy Shellnut and Lisa Zwisler as Maryann Summers from Gilligan's Island" and Annette
Funicello, respectively. The A Cast performs its first act at the Durango Arts Center, while the B Cast opens at the
Henry Strater Theatre.
The two casts switch at intermission and repeat their acts at the other venue.
In between the emcees' banter, which ranges from the lewd to the merely absurd, director Don Doane lined up 18 acts
bookended by the requisite chorus lines of dancers, clad this year in an array of vintage bathing attire in keeping
with Snowdown's Life's a Beach" theme.
Content-wise, the skits are somewhat predictable; I say that not as a criticism because that's just how it's done and
always has been done. The whole idea of the Follies is that it's an inside joke for people who live here, which is a
welcome change from the pandering we have to do for tourists the rest of the year. There's a chicken, some medicinal
marijuana gags, a bit of A-LP and lots of off-color jokes about male anatomy, promiscuity and the like. You know, Follies stuff.
In general, I found the overall tone a bit less acerbic than years past, which could have something to do with our
most congenial City Council in recent memory.
The lack of bickering among our elected officials makes it tough to write biting satire. Writers were even forced to
invoke the names of Follies targets of yesteryear like Bob Ledger and Nathaniel Miller, my predecessor twice-removed, for fodder.
As to the acts themselves, my favorites are always those that are performed live, as opposed to the pre-recorded
lip-synched skits. I certainly understand the reasoning behind the prefab style, but there's something to be said for
pulling off a flawless live act.
John Staten and Jonathan Hunt would have scored my top mark with their simple but genuinely funny duet had it not
been for the standout performance by John Thomas, Rachel Gressler and Josh Mack. Thomas' guitar accompanies
Gressler's vocals on I'd Like to See You with Our Clothes Off!" a sultry little number punctuated with comic relief
from Mack. Simply put, I like pretty girls who can sing, so Gressler edges out Hunt and Staten on presentation.
However, Staten's wife, Dawn, provides another highlight, with a solo kazoo gag routine that quickly surpasses the
PG-13 rating that precludes me from discussing it further on these pages. We're a family paper, after all, and one of
the best things about the Follies is that they're refreshingly family-free, couples like the Statens notwithstanding.
More than anything, the Follies is a great party put on by locals for locals, and that's why it's the toughest ticket
in town every year regardless of who or what is happening onstage. We laugh, we groan, we applaud, we boo, and we
thank the cast and crew for the privilege of doing so.