Riff Markowitz, the “Follies Man” known for his cutting edge satire has emerged unscathed, despite his outrageously delightful commentary on aging, in the theatrical sense. Whether you find it insulting, brutally honest or just sheer funny, I dare you to stop laughing during the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies production of “Dance to the Music” which spotlights Mid-Century-Modern dance and music.
Markowitz, never having missed a single performance since assuming his role as impresario and creator of the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, has presided over 4,463 performances with a remarkable sense of humor propelled by perfect timing. Who else could emerge unscathed after mocking the way senior citizens walk, talk and think? Certainly not Riff, because he is one of us. Sixty years in show business have left Riff with a lot to laugh about. In 1982 at age 44 he produced the 1982 HBO special, “George Burns Live in Concert.” Eight years later he retired to Palm Springs where he discovered “he hated golf.” A few months later he co–founded a new variety-style production with Mary Jardin introducing Las Vegas glam, starring a “Legendary Line of Long-Legged Lovelies and Follies Gentlemen” lighting up the stage at the historic Plaza Theatre ( in the heart of downtown Palm Springs ) and now it its 22nd year draws loyal fans who often arrive in chartered buses.
This year the theme is “Go Bold or Get Old” with all cast members between 53 and 83 years old. According to People Magazine, “they dance, sing, they’re ancient and draw sellout crowds.”
Lillian Krako, my 96-year-old aunt, hasn’t missed a Follies performance since 1992, when the Follies debuted. “There are retirees here from all over America and Canada; the Follies is one thing we agree on, not to miss it!”
Markowitz refers to his audience as “darlins” and is unforgiving when it comes to their taking aches, pains, facelifts and Botox® too seriously. Several years ago he had the cast choreographed dancing and singing from walkers and wheelchairs!
The 22nd season opens November 1, featuring Lorna Luft singing the songs her mother, Judy Garland, taught her, such as “Come Rain or Come Shine.” Lou Christie opens January 8, followed by Lesley Gore, back by popular demand, March 12 to May 19. For the second season “Dinner with the Cast,” offers a new way to experience the Follies while meeting with the cast for “questions and answers” after a matinee performance. It takes place in a nearby restaurant.
Check it all out at www.PSFollies.com or call (760) 327-0225. Tickets start at $29 in designated sections on the main floor.
Pam Price resides in Palm Springs and is the co author of Day Trips from Los Angeles.