Park City Follies 14 will be ‘Epic’
April 1, 2014
Every year, the four core members of the Park City Follies creative team — songstress Terry Moffitt, director Paul Tan, writer and The Park Record columnist Tom Clyde and videographer Rick Klein — gets together in August to start brainstorming for the upcoming spring show.
They discuss ideas over dinner and bottles of High West spirits to come up with a theme and some ideas.
"We all have our strengths," Moffitt said during a roundtable interview with The Park Record. "Paul directs and he works well with people. Tom shoulders a lot of the writing and brings a depth of knowledge of Park City that none of us have. Rick does the video and I do a lot of the songs. There is a lot of respect and trust within this group."
That’s one of the reasons why Park City Follies has continued after all these years.
The annual theatrical lampoon of all things Park City will open its 14th installation, "Epic Follies," at the Egyptian Theatre on Friday, April 4. Additional dates are Saturday and Sunday, April 5 and 6, and Wednesday through Saturday, April 9 through 12. The money raised through ticket sales will benefit the Egyptian Theatre.
One of the things that makes the show unique is all who are involved, including the creative team, are volunteers.
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"It is a labor of love," Moffitt said. "I can’t say how many hours that we’ve put into it, because it’s a lot."
This year, the team recruited retired Park City School District reading specialist Paula Botkin to help with props.
"She’s the one who will bring the ray guns and the bombs," Moffitt said with a grin. "She’s the sweetest and nicest person I’ve ever met, but when she called me on the phone the other day, she asked, ‘What would kill the most people?’"
Shelle Jennings will return as the music director and is looked on by the team as the consummate professional.
"If something starts to go bad, she’ll play some music that will cover things up and the audience will think it’s part of the show," Clyde said. "That will give us a bridge to do a slow set change or find an actor who was in the bathroom."
The cast, as always, is comprised of local actors who do and don’t have professional theater training.
One of the actresses, Stephanie Bass, a former Follies regular who lived in Chicago for the past couple of years, drove back to Park City to be in the show.
"I emailed her as almost a joke and asked if she wanted to be in the show this year and I got an instant text reply that said, ‘Sure! When is it?’" Tan said. "She is giving us 110-percent and is having a blast."
Tan, who has directed the show since 2005, said it’s a bit like herding cats, but such an enjoyable process.
"You’ve got to take people of varying abilities and get the most out of them," he explained. "Some walk in nine-tenths of the way there and you have to bring them a tiny bit further and some are way ahead of where you thought they were."
That’s the real challenge, Tan said.
"Working on other plays, you have people whose experiences and talents are similar, but here we have talent that runs across the board," he said. "So knowing the cast is king."
"What Paul isn’t saying is that he has a manner of working with people that makes it fun," Clyde praised. "For years, at the early stages, the theatre lent us professional directors, who, generally speaking, made it clear the first night of rehearsals that we were dirt and weren’t happy to be there. And people would go home crushed and miserable.
"Paul, rather than screaming at someone for not getting a character, will take them aside and makes little suggestions," Clyde said. "Since he’s started directing, rehearsals have been a joy."
Another Follies element that has grown over the years is the role of multimedia.
"We make videos to include people who want to be in the Follies, but don’t have time in their schedule to rehearse six hours a night," Tan said. "So we’ll go to them and do a shoot."
Klein is the one who usually helms these sessions, but relies on the other three to give him some feedback.
He recently wrapped a shoot at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church that will be a nod to same-sex marriages.
"I shot it a couple of Sundays ago and Terry pointed out a few things," Klein said. "I spent the better part of the day putting it together and then had the others look at it and tear it apart. Then I went back and redid things."
Moffitt was not only happy with the final edit, but was also blown away at the cooperation provided by the church and its reverend Charles Robinson.
"He was thrilled to be part of it," Moffitt said. "We shot it after the regular Sunday service and the congregation stayed to be a part of the shoot.
"There was so much support and it was like an actual wedding ceremony," she said. "I can’t tell you how much we appreciated their help."
Before video was fully introduced to Follies back in 2005, the multimedia aspect looked something like a PowerPoint presentation, Clyde said.
"We would have great slides that were Photoshopped wonderfully by Duke Speer," he said. "We literally had his laptop set up on rickety stools and plugged into a projector and had to be careful not to tip it over."
For audio, Duke would hold a microphone against the computer’s speaker.
"We did that for the first five or six years," Clyde said.
One year, during the middle of a Saturday-night show, the laptop began to reboot and update its software.
"The whole show came to a standstill," Moffitt said, laughing.
"The plot was a trip to Branson, Missouri, that was inspired by the announcement that a Branson-styled film studio would be built at Quinn’s Junction," Clyde explained. "The scene was supposed to be the resurrection of Donny & Marie Osmond, and we had all these images leading up to the grand climax about the Donny & Marie Theatre."
At 9:25 p.m. the computer began to search for its software update.
"All the audience could see on the screen were the words ‘Looking for Software,’" Clyde said. "No one could restart it or shut it down, and the whole plot depended on those next few images."
In the meanwhile, original Follies creator Meeche White was backstage telling Clyde to do something.
"I grabbed an easel that was backstage and took out some paper and a magic marker and drew the next five scenes using stick figures," Clyde laughed. "At least the audience thought it was funny."
Now the Follies can uses the Egyptian Theatre’s $8,000 Sundance digital projector.
"Times have changed, but the bottom line is that regardless of all these technological advances, the DNA of the show is still locals and volunteers giving their time and loving it," Tan said. "That’s something that we stick really close to."
The Park City Follies will present "An Epic Follies" at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., on Thursday through Sunday, April 4 through April 6, and Wednesday through Saturday, April 9 through 12. Showtimes are 8 p.m. for all except April 6, which will begin at 6 p.m. Tickets range from $29 to $45 and are available by calling 435-649-9371 or by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.