Here's the first of (hopefully) several e-interviews with the cast and crew of the Will Rogers Follies, which starts Friday night at the Renaissance Center in Huntington.
We kick off with some comments from my pal Stephen Vance, who plays the title role (that's him on the right in the photo above, and my pal Jim Lamp is on the left):
Q: For those who aren't familiar with the show, tell us about Will Rogers Follies.
A: This show is a modern take on the follies style show that was popular in the roaring twenties. The show tells the story of an ordinary man in an environment of opulence and spectacle. Everything about the show is extravagant. Beautiful girls, elaborate costumes, dazzling technical aspects, and then right at the core is a character with whom everyone can connect.
Q: Tell us about your character in the show.
A: Well, I play Will Rogers. For those who don't know, Will was a normal fella from Oklahoma who loved to travel. He became famous for his rope tricks and insightful humor and has become one of America's most quotable people. He never met a man he didn't like and was always wanting to meet new people. He wrote a regular column, spoke frequently on the radio, and became so popular with the American people that President Hoover asked him to speak after his radio address in the wake of the depression. At the time of his death, Will Rogers was one of if not the most popular people in America.
Q: Why did you want to be part of this show?
A: The people. I've worked with so many talented and hardworking people throughout my brief history in community theatre. I wanted to have that opportunity again to play every night with talented, fun and dedicated people. Ever since the first read, I couldn't wait to get back to the theatre every night. Maybe it's the show, maybe it's this cast, but the sense of family is very strong with this group. I'm flattered just to be called a part of this cast. Each of them are so skilled at what they do. Not enough time can be spent talking about how impressive the quality of the work is that they do every night. I'm tempted to go through and name every single member of this team and brag on them but I'd have to start my own blog. Everyone uses superlatives when describing their current project, and I'll avoid doing that on purpose, but I can say that I will never forget this experience. It's not just lip service. Each and every one of them are brilliant.
Q: What's the most challenging thing about the show for you?
A: It's going to seem like a silly answer, but honestly, the costume changes. The other stuff like music, lines and rope tricks we have had a decent amount of time to work on, but this past weekend we received the majority of our wardrobe. I believe I have 14 changes, and I know Jocelyn has around 20, and everyone else is changing a lot, too. The costumes are great and they bring so much life to the show. It's worth all of the challenges when you walk out on stage.
Q: Why would you urge our readers to attend?
A: I think they'll love it. I can't speak for everyone, so I'll just list the reasons I would come if I weren't already in the show. Beautiful show girls, great humor, rope tricks, a fantastic set, a great venue, free kid's tickets with paying adult and really just a wonderful evening of theatre.