The Oklahoma Senior Follies returns to the stage this weekend, a pure delight. Now, in the troupe’s fourth year, these shows are a welcome sign that as certain as hot summers, quality performance art is a staple in the Sooner State.
This year’s edition takes us a joyful step away from a wider world of woe. The closing trio of tunes – Destination Oklahoma City, a blend of A Very Good Year with Aquarius, and the state song – are about as good as musical theatre gets.
At the risk of missing someone, the Broadway ability of singers like Terry Runnels, John Peebles, Jim Henline, and Linda Wright Piro make this efficient two hours of theatre a joy to witness.
Margie Peebles tugs at the heart as a mother singing “Turn Around” when her son is wed. Lest we wallow too long in poignancy, Runnels provides a remedy immediately. In a “Father of the Bride” number, he is a worried Dad pouring in brilliant energy as he sings, “My daughter is marrying an idiot.”
Solid thespians – Barbara Giager, Russell Agao and Christy Carson – join forces for a pair of number focused on “the eternal triangle.”
Dave Anderson’s booming bass voice is put to good use frequently, notably in the “Tennessee” Ernie Ford song of tribute to American industrial workers – “Sixteen Tons.”
Wright delivers a delightful rewriting of the James Bond film classic, “Nobody Does It Better” as this year’s Follies King – football coaching legendy Barry Switzer – takes the stage.
Classy Charlotte Franklin and coquettish Jane Hall return with a “Cha Cha Cha” number whose uproarious devices we won’t spoil here. Hall and Franklin blend so well together you imagine it’s a slice of life on-stage, rather than the hard work of consummate professionals.
Larry Darnell and Jody Miller, two of Oklahoma’s finest country performers, combine for a couple of country tunes, in tribute to Hank Williams and with a stirring song of praise to “the Man who walks on the water.” Jody returns for the curtain in delightful hippy attire.
Bringing bravaro and brightness to the Kirkpatrick Auditorium stage are Jackie Short, Kristina Rapp, and Linda Slane, notably in a couple of ensemble numbers, including a tribute to male-female Friendship.
Quick-hit jokes and skits interspersed throughout the performance are witty, well-timed and flawlessly executed on stage.
Affirming America and delivering a boffo solo number is the ageless Jo Rowan, Oklahoma City University professor and dance professional. Bob Windsor and Generations in Tap return for several sets, a personal favorite being the up-tempo modern number, “Crazy Lil’ Thing.” Jay Edwards, the singing general sings a lonely lover’s lament in the second act, and pianist Wally Brown takes the Steinway Piano soaring on a tribute to the Greatest Generation.
Evoking the wonder of the original Ziegfield Follies of yore, this year’s Follies Beauties were a wonder to behold. These sexy seniors include Dr. Jan Henry, Vicki Clark Gourley, Noma D. Gurich, Stacy Dominguez, Ann Felton, Carol Sander, and Nadine Holloway.
Carson, Sander and Wright join Lolly Anderson and Heather Warlick in a special recognition as volunteers who made the production possible, delivered from the heart of Bobbie Burbridge Lane, founder.
David Herendeen, director, blends the entire event into a theatrical delight. Mike Anderson is an affable host. It is hard to believe the band consists only of Jake Johnson, Clinton Trench and Roger Owens.
This stellar production continues today (Saturday, June 14) and tomorrow (Sunday, June 15) with performances at 3 p.m. in the lovely performance space of the Kirkpatrick Auditorium on campus at Oklahoma City University, N.W. 25 and Blackwelder.
For information, visit online at www.okseniorfollies.com, telephone 405-208-5227, or give yourself an hour’s lead time to beat the box office lines. Don’t miss it.
The Oklahoma Senior Follies is a joint project of Oklahoma City University and the Burbridge Foundation. Mobile Meals of Oklahoma County will receive proceeds after expenses.
Good work by all!