Last Hurrah

Since 1992 the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies has entertained nearly three million patrons.  This vaudeville inspired show with a touch of Las Vegas “celebrates the  music and dance of Mid-Century America,” says Greg Purdy, the publicist who has been part of this rollicking classic since the beginning.  Back in 1998 it was nominated for an Academy Award in the short-subject documentary category.  The Follies has enjoyed tight ties with its venue, the historic Plaza Theatre where the legend persists that Greta Garbo sat in the balcony here during the 1936 World Premiere of the movie, Camille.

And now a chapter in Palm Springs history will close as Riff Markowitz, that irreverent but loveable founder and Master of Ceremonies, will take his last bow in May 2014.  The theme is fitting, “The Last Hurrah.”  The singing, dancing and phenomenal costumes are flashy and classy.  The vintage music brings back memories and sometimes a tear to your eye.

“It’s been an amazing, wonderful ride, we have always adored our Follies,  this tiny jewel box theatre, our town and most of all, our people, comprising the Follies, cast and staff, numbering more than 110 souls.  Many folks here don’t realize the Follies is a 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., six-days a week, eleven or more months yearly endeavor,” says Markowitz.

“And  now it’s time to be with family, grandchildren, friends….and my  dog.”

When the Follies debuted 22 years ago one reporter (who shall remain nameless) quipped in a column, “Who wants to see old ladies’ legs?”  While it is true the “ladies of the Follies” range from 55 to “83 years young,” Markowitz reminds all reporters that they successfully overwhelm the audience with sumptuous Broadway-caliber production numbers from the moment the curtain rises.

“A season without the Follies is like a yummy chocolate cake without the frosting,” opines Barbara Wisbey, desert journalist.  She should know: like so many local fans, she hasn’t missed The Follies since the year it opened.  Today Follies fans arrive by bus, auto and airline.

Markowitz hasn’t missed a single show since the 1992 premiere.

Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet recalls The Follies success story well.

“In difficult times the Follies continued to perform, boosting our city’s tourism.  What founders Riff  Markowitz and Mary Jardine with the cast did for Palm Springs  is beyond compare.  Hometown folks and  visitors will miss seeing them.”

That’s why you can’t miss this desert legend with The Last Hurrah opening November 1 featuring Susan Anton and the variety act, Brad Cummings and Rex through December 31.

Tickets for matinees and evening performances can be confirmed for individuals and groups at (760) 327-0225 or online at

Pam Price is the co author of Day Trips from Los Angeles (


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