Park City Follies 2023 courts pickleballers and tennis players
Musical fundraiser will continue into the future
2023 Park City Follies: ‘A Follies You Can’t Refuse’
- When: April 28-May 7
- Where: Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.
- Phone: 855-745-SHOW
- Web: parkcityshows.com
Contrary to rumors circulating in Park City’s small-town network, the 2023 Park City Follies: “A Follies You Can’t Refuse,” which opens Friday, April 28, will not be the last production of the musical farce that raises money for the Egyptian Theatre.
The creative team — Paul Tan, Terry Moffitt, Tom Clyde, Andy Cier, Rick Klein and Josh Mann — have released a statement to confirm.
“Follies has life of its own and is part of the fabric of Park City now, and it is critical for the Egyptian Theatre,” they said in the statement. “The creative team has had a number of those kinds of life events over the last couple of years that make it hard to maintain the time commitment to the project. So we’re losing some very creative people, but there will be a show next year. It might be a little different, but it will happen. The focus, now, is just getting this production on stage.”
Tan, who has directed 15 years of the 23-year run, will step down, and lyricist Moffitt said she is “cutting way back.”
“Thinking I may concentrate on videos as those can be done anytime and help out with songs if the crew need something,” she said. “I can write a song from a tropical location (or Paris) so that would be easy and flexible.”
Tan reiterated that the team and Egyptian Theatre Manager Randy Barton are adamant that this year’s Follies will not be the end.
“This is so important to the Egyptian,” Tan said. “(If you) look at the history of the Follies, it started as an Egyptian Theatre-produced show. They decided to put on a hare-brained idea that people came up with. They financed it, (even) through the years where it lost money, and stuck with it.”
While the small-town network had raised concerns about Follies changes, it has also been the source of Follies material throughout the decades.
The production has made fun of the Vail and Park City Mountain lawsuit in 2014. It took pokes at Park City’s transportation issues in 2016 — and this year, the big topic is the war between pickleball and tennis, Moffitt said.
“We had a nighttime meeting at Whole Foods last year and I came right from playing pickleball,” Moffitt said. “Do you know how many people are in pickleball clubs? It’s like 1,300. They are like a voting bloc. If you don’t get the pickleball vote, you’re not getting elected.”
Once Moffitt mentioned pickleball, Mann — who made his script-writing debut with this year’s production — began thinking about how he could weave pickleballers into the script.
But he didn’t need to think about it too long, because a few days later, the talk of the town was the battle between pickleballers and tennis players, said Moffitt, who is an avid pickleball player.
That battle is based on the perception that tennis gets precedence over pickleball, which has been reported in the Park City media.
“The next thing we know, we started seeing letters to the editor in The Park Record,” Moffitt said. “There was a lot of contention.”
Clyde remembers hearing an interview with Tim La Page, one of local pickleball’s strongest supporters, on KPCW radio.
“I was driving over to go skiing and was listening to that, and I just laughed the whole way through,” Clyde said. “(He) sounded like Martin Luther King dealing with the discrimination against pickleball.”
The catch with all Park City Follies productions is to know when to pull the punches, Moffitt said.
“We try not to be mean-spirited,” she said. “We don’t want to besmirch anybody’s reputation or character, because it’s all in good fun.”
Very rarely has anyone who has been in the Follies’ crosshairs gotten mad for how they were depicted in the production, Tan said.
“We usually hear, ‘Oh, my gosh! We’ve made it (because) we’ve been spoofed in The Follies,” he said. “(They see it as) an honor to be spoofed in The Follies.”
Pickleball, like all topics Follies chooses to parody, is timely. And that can sometimes prove challenging for the creative team, said Clyde.
“We start the show back in September, and we make a guess about what’s going to be the hot topic in April,” he said. “But we’ve been lucky to choose topics that still work six or eight months.”
One of the scariest years for Follies was 2014, according to Clyde.
“(Our) whole show was written around the impending disaster of the Park City Mountain and Vail lawsuit,” he said. “Every morning it was like, ‘If they settle today, we don’t have a show.'”
This year’s production saw a similar situation, Mann said.
“There is a subplot of the show that is very much in the news and very contentious,” he said. “We’ve had to change the show slightly, but it has worked out.”
With the prospect of having to change the show on a dime, the director has to be flexible, Tan said.
“The job of a director is once everything is put together, and whether you like it or not, you have to interpret that on the stage,” he said. “(I make) spreadsheets of who is in what scene, the costume changes and who can’t be in which scene because of the costume changes or other aspects.”
Sometimes people have to drop out of the show, Tan said.
“We had that happen this past week, so I had to re-spreadsheet,” he said. “These are things we have to deal with.”
The cast also has to adapt when the chosen topic takes an unexpected turn, Clyde said.
“They are incredibly talented,” he said. “They are so good. They can make adjustments with changes.”
While the direction by Tan and videos by Klein add to the show, a Follies production would not be complete without the songs written by Moffitt.
“I wait until the story is written, and decide what the song is supposed to accomplish,” she said.
The songs are parodies of existing songs that catch Moffitt’s ear.
“If there’s a hook line or a chorus in a song that I know of, I’ll use that,” she said. “If I really like the tune, I’ll do it. I want it to rhyme and stuff.”
One of the songs this year is about snow, which, of course, is timely, Clyde said.
“We were meeting at the hospital watching an absolutely raging blizzard outside the window, and we were all sick of winter,” he said. “So, we thought we really need a ‘sick-of-winter’ song.”
Moffitt was on vacation in Paris, and the team texted her to say they needed the song by the next morning, according to Clyde,
“The deadline was a joke, but I got up at 7 o’clock and here is this beautiful, perfect song from Paris,” he said.
Moffitt knew the team wasn’t serious about the deadline.
“But I took it as a challenge and did it,” she said.
Once the song is done, Moffitt takes it to the Follies Music Director Katy Lillquist.
“She and I sing it through, and we play it through to see if syllables need to be trimmed,” Moffitt said.
Lillquist will take notes and present the songs to the band.
“They work with anyone in the cast who wants a little more practice,” Moffitt said. “They’ve already been practicing, and they are a really cohesive group.”
No False Summit and the Belief Group partnered with J. W. Allen & Sons Toy and Candy to bring Christmas to underprivileged families.
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