The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies welcomes its 22nd season, and according to Lisette Haigler, the first person to buy a Follies Annual Passport good for unlimited attendance in premium seating. Lucky Lisette, she is entitled to have unlimited concessions delivered to her seat (read popcorn and soda) plus a gift bag of Follies of souvenirs, too.
“It’s going to be another year of nonstop entertainment. I plan to attend ten performances just like I do every season,” she told me.
This year it’s “Dance to the Music” with tickets starting at $29. The Historic Plaza Theatre in downtown Palm Springs will definitely rock your socks off with guest stars and “hula”rious hi jinx such as Mat Plendl, the “world’s greatest Hula Hoop Artist.” If you remember American Bandstand, the Twist and Disco, you’ll get a kick out of the
“Long-Legged -Lovelies” and the “Gentleman of the Follies.” Just keep in mind that all cast members are between 54 and 83 years of age. And if you have never seen a 77-year-old showgirl, you are “really out of it,” according to Follies fan and Palm Springs resident, Marilyn Sue Will.
There is an art to becoming a “Follies Fanatic”– the highest level of being a fan of the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, the desert’s answer to Las Vegas and Vaudeville. The obvious differences are the personal touches extended by the Follies staff that keep fans attending year after year, arriving on buses from near and far, some with canes and others piloting a motorized wheelchair.
Wheelchairs are not an obstacle. In fact, one year dancers rolled walkers on stage, using them in their dance routine. It’s all about laughter, nostalgia with a nod to the past.
Incidentally, the house is packed without the help of Ticketmaster. This talented troop of performers and staff do it all, in-house. There is no outsourcing on any level.
The Follies continues to celebrate America’s pop music and dance; this year the focus is on the 40s, 50s and 60s, an era the cast is “definitely old enough to remember the way it really was,” says the program.
Jill Zigoures, house manager, said, “We have a Theatre Ambassadors Program in place along with other personal services that are unexpected. Allen Borges has been greeting arriving bus tours for seventeen years. He knows many of our repeat guests and makes sure every guest feels welcome.”
Zigoures mentioned a top fan, Russell Higley from New York, who has attended 55 performances during the last ten years. He plans his arrival in Palm Springs to coincide with opening night at the Follies which is November 1, Thursday.
Mary Jardin, the Follies co-founder and director of sales and marketing, choreographs these details with panache and precision. Cultivating loyal fans has been an overwhelming success on many levels. When you spot a Follies mini car or van around Palm Springs, the message is clear: the Follies is back; don’t miss it!
I noticed while browsing though Follies files that a block of seats was reserved as the “Sherman’s Deli staff row.” The Follies philosophy puts the audience in the limelight as well as the cast. Adding the frosting to the Follies program are special guests: Lorna Luft (November 1 to December 31), Lou Christie (January 8 to March 9) and my personal favorite, Lesley Gore (March 12 to May 19). She was an overwhelming success last year.
The Follies always goes one step further in keeping with its policy of promoting something new for the fans each year. This season, starting November 16 and concluding on May 10, the surprise is “Pre Show Presentations.” They are up close, personal and complimentary.
By granting early admission for groups of 30 or more, these entertaining Q & A sessions feature one or more cast members. If you want to know who styles those fabulous feathered headpieces and Erte’ inspired costumes, here’s where you can ask.
“There is so much that goes into producing the Follies,” said Lisette Haigler, #1 fan. “From the fabulous feathered costumes to their matching shoes, it’s why people line up year after year along Palm Canyon, bringing the gift of glam back to the desert.”
Delving into the ongoing programs of the Follies is Dinner with the Cast scheduled from November 6 through May 16. This arrangement includes preferred main floor seating to a matinee performance, a no-host cocktail reception immediately after the performance, a three-course dinner (including taxes and gratuities) and an after-dinner presentation by several members of the Follies cast, with a Q&A session.
And yes, there are photo ops, too! Riff Markowitz, the Follies Man, might even mention your name from the stage. You just never know what mischief he is up to, but that’s another story!
Now, wanna have some fun? Call (700) 327-0225 or log onto www.psfollies.com.
Pamela Price is the co author of 100 Best Spas of the World, www.globepequot.com.