If you love show biz, then you’ll be head-over-heels for the ‘Fabulous’ Palm Springs Follies final all-dancing, all-singing all-hilarious production, ‘The Last Hurrah!’
"Our 23rd season will be a 'greatest hits' version of our show," said Follies producer and co-founder Riff Markowitz, "with the best dance production numbers and variety acts of past years, and three iconic headliners packed into one last spectacular Follies season. It will be a fitting and exciting last hurrah!"
Markowitz is also one of the best masters of ceremonies in show biz. A delightful and quick-witted gentleman who could easily do a solo performance, Riff hasn't missed a single show since its premier in 1990. So if you go, you’ll get to see Riff in action - one of the best ingredients in this already great, big wonderful show.
From our personal experience, the productions are right up there with the best of Broadway’s most lavish, entertaining and fast-paced blockbusters. It’s rare to see such spectacular costumes and sets. The musical direction, musicians, orchestrations and vocal arrangements are thrilling. And the choreography and dancing are always among the best on any stage in the world.
One of the many eye-popping surprises of the Follies is its world-renowned line of Long-Legged Lovelies and Follies Gentlemen, all ranging in age from 58 to 84. And each one is in top physical form. They prove, beyond a doubt, a famous quote from Billie Burke (Mrs. Florenz Ziegfeld and ‘Glinda’ in the Wizard of Oz) that "age doesn't matter unless you're a cheese."
‘The Last Hurrah!’ stars three iconic headliners:
The season opens with Susan Anton through December 31, 2013. She won the Miss California crown in 1969, but quickly established herself professionally in the Broadway-Las Vegas-Hollywood orbit as a multi-talented theatrical, TV and movie personality.
She co-starred in the original Broadway cast of Tommy Tune's Tony-Award winning musical, The Will Rogers Follies. Before that, she had done a straight dramatic role on the Great White Way in Hurlyburly, David Rabe's Pulitzer Prize-winning play directed by Mike Nichols. This versatility has been omnipresent in a long career covering hundreds of roles in television and movies.
She received a Golden Globe nomination as best new female star for the film, Goldengirl, and co-starred in the Las Vegas production of the Broadway musical, Hairspray, opposite Harvey Fierstein, a role she recently reprised - along with a star-studded cast for three sold-out Hollywood Bowl performances.
Next up is Grammy-nominee Maureen McGovern, the singer with “The Stradivarius Voice,” who will guest star at the Follies with an encore appearance featuring her hits and memories from January 7 through March 8, 2014.
We saw her perform earlier this year in Connecticut and the audience gave her more than one standing ovation and kept her onstage for several encores. She’s a magnificent singer, first-rate raconteur and a dazzling stage presence.
Her 40-year career has encompassed recording, song writing, concerts, radio, television, film and Broadway. Born in Youngstown, Ohio, McGovern, 64, began singing at the age of three and grew up listening to her father’s barbershop quartet rehearse. By age eight she knew she wanted to be a professional singer.
While working as a secretary and part-time folk singer, in 1972, she recorded a demo that was heard by the head of 20th Century Records, who promptly hired her to sing “The Morning After”, the Oscar-winning theme of the classic disaster film, The Poseidon Adventure. Her rendition topped the Billboard charts.
Grammy nominated for “Best New Artist” in 1973, the next year she recorded the Oscar nominated song “We May Never Love Like This Again” from The Towering Inferno, followed by hits such as “Can You Read My Mind?” from the film version of Superman and “Different Worlds” from the TV series, Angie.
In 1981, she made her Broadway debut in The Pirates of Penzance. She later starred in Nine with Raul Julia and in The Three Penny Opera with Sting. In 2005, McGovern returned to Broadway, originating her Drama Desk-nominated role of Marmee in Little Women, The Musical. She continued in that role with the national touring company.
During the mid-80s, she also established herself as an outstanding nightclub and cabaret performer, often paying tribute to songwriters like George Gershwin, Harold Arlen and Richard Rodgers. A career highlight was a solo concert at Carnegie Hall in 1989.
Follies audiences now have a second opportunity to hear one of the truly great voices and charismatic personalities of our generation, in-person and onstage at the historic Plaza Theatre.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Darlene Love is making her Follies debut. She opens March 11 and plays through May 18, 2014. this great performer will be singing her many hits, including the #1 smash, "He's A Rebel.” She is featured in the new documentary Twenty Feet From Stardom.
Rounding out the bill for ‘The Last Hurrah!” are three acclaimed variety acts: Brad Cummings, one of today's most successful and innovative ventriloquists, and his alter-ego, Rex, are making their second Follies encore. They hit the road as the opening act for such superstars as John Denver, the Captain & Tennille and Frankie Valli in the 80s. In addition to these tours, They also starred in main showroom revues in Lake Tahoe, Reno, Las Vegas and Atlantic City. This entertaining duo will be on through December 31, 2013.
The celebrated Juggler Rejean St. Jules has worked in Las Vegas’ major production shows, including the Lido de Paris, City Lights, Splash, Bare Essence and Folies Bergere. His most recent appearance was in Jubilee! at Bally's Las Vegas. He be juggling his balls from Jan 7, 2014 - Mar 8, 2014.
Frank Oliver, a veteran of Broadway, Las Vegas and TV, including America's Got Talent, makes this Follies debut. This first-timer combines comedy with award-winning juggling, magic and more from Mar 11, 2014 - May 18, 2014.
Follies Co-Founder and Director of Sales & Marketing, Mary Jardin, attractive enough to be mistaken for a performer herself, talked about the legacy of the Follies: “I like to think the Follies has brought something very special to our residents and visitors during these past 23 years," And added: “In our early years, it was extraordinary to welcome such luminaries as Ginger Rogers, Bob Hope, Kirk Douglas, President Ford, and (her favorite author) Herman Wouk. And I was thrilled to have Hollywood legends like Donald O'Connor and Howard Keel actually perform upon our stage."
For theater buffs, the show was the worthy subject of an Oscar-nominated short documentary, Still Kicking: The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies in 1997.
The Follies is at the historic Plaza Theatre, a charming, neon-encrusted vintage movie house, at 128 South Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs, California, an attraction itself. For individual tickets/gift certificates call (760) 327-0225, or online www.psfollies.com. For group sales, call (760) 778-7657 or send an email for details.
Here’s your chance to experience a remarkable show and its final chapter in showbiz history. Being in the audience will give you bragging rights with any fan of theater, Broadway and nightclubs. The Follies combines them all, and the ageless performers onstage are a lasting tribute to the Irving Berlin lyric – “There’s no people like Show People!”l
Be sure to click on the slideshow and video added to this article. And, for more articles from Don Church and Tony Schillaci, please 'Subscribe' to us on this Examiner page. It's easy and free...just a click away.
Written by Don Church and Tony Schillaci, Critics On The Aisle