By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The 7th annual Oklahoma Senior Follies Extravaganza will be held on Friday and Saturday, June 9 and 10 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, June 11 at 3 p.m. at Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC), 7777 S. May Avenue.
The Senior Follies is a Ziegfeld-Inspired event that raises money and awareness for Central Oklahoma seniors. The theme for this year’s extravaganza is “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.”
The Follies troupe was founded in 2011 through the vision of Bobbie Burbridge Lane and the Burbridge Foundation. Its objective is to “promote, encourage and stimulate the social and active lives of Oklahoma seniors through example, reminding them to go out and use their talents for good.”
Directed by Oklahoma City actor and singer Terry Runnels, the family friendly show has something for everyone.
“I have been a professional performer for 50 years and there are some in the show with many more,” said Runnels. “We all love the audience, the stage, and a place to continue what we love to do and continue to do so well. It’s a show for all ages and a reminder that age is just a number.”
The show will include some of the cast’s grandchildren in “Tomorrow.” There will be Disney Princesses, singers, dance groups, Count Gregore, Elvira and the Rat Pack plus four.
The 2017 Senior Follies King is Maestro Joel Levine, conductor of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. Many of the cast members worked with Levine when he was with Lyric Theatre, beginning in 1976.
In his twenty-eighth season with the Philharmonic, Levine is the longest serving music director in Oklahoma City’s history. Including his tenure with the Oklahoma Symphony, Levine is serving in his thirty-eighth year at Civic Center Music Hall.
Founding Oklahoma City’s Philharmonic in 1988, Levine announced last March he would be stepping down as music director at the end of the 2017-2108 season.
Former Kings include Leland Gourley, Barry Switzer, Dick Sias and former Governor George Nigh, seniors who have contributed extensively to the greater Oklahoma City community.
This year the Senior Follies’ court of Beauties includes Charlotte Franklin, Glenda Tanenbaum, Billie Thrash, Carolyn Nimmo, Willa Johnson, and Barbara Harjo.
Charlotte has performed on Broadway and in productions worldwide, as well as at Lyric Theatre with Maestro Levine. She is a founding member of City Rep Theatre and an original cast member of the Follies where she serves on the Board.
Glenna has been co-chair of the Symphony Designers Showhouse and serves on the Board of the Oklahoma City Orchestra League. A founding member of IMPACT Oklahoma, she is the recipient of the OCU Woman of Excellence Outstanding Philanthropist Award 2017.
A longtime advocate for the arts, Billie has co-chaired the 2001 Festival of the Arts and the OKC Downtown holiday event, “Opening Night”. An actress, director and choreographer, she is on the adjunct faculty of the Music Theater Division at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Carolyn, a passionate educator of children, taught for 38 years at East Central University in Ada and in the Norman, Ada and Latta public school system. A member of the Chickasaw Nation, she is the great-great granddaughter of the its first governor, Cyrus Harris.
Willa was the first African American woman elected to the Oklahoma City Council, Ward 7 and currently serves as the District 1 Oklahoma County Commissioner. Willa was inducted into the Oklahoma African-American Hall of Fame, received an Honorary Doctorate from Oklahoma City University and is an Honoree of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Wall of Fame.
Barbara began her Oklahoma career at the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic, then became the First Clerk of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Married to artist Ben Harjo, she became active in the Indian art world, curating, organizing and judging various exhibits. She also serves as the marketing director of First American Indian Art Magazine.
“This is a group of outstanding and involved women who epitomize the best of active women over 55 years of age,” said Follies board member, Carol Sander.
Oklahoma Senior Follies, a 501c3 organization, is partnering with the Oklahoma Alzheimer’s Association to create this popular production. The Follies also sponsors the Joy Tour performances throughout the year entertaining seniors in retirement centers, senior centers and nursing homes.
“The annual Follies production has garnered stellar reviews and excellent attendance in its annual productions the past several years,” Sander said. “Filling up the new performance venue is the next objective.”
Tickets are available online at tickets.occc.edu, or through the box office at 405-682-7579. For more information, visit okseniorfollies.com.