‘Park City Follies’ gets topical without getting mean
“Park City Follies: A Biodegradable Follies”
April 26-28, and April 30-May 5
The trick of the “Park City Follies,” the annual musical spoof of all things Park City that is held during Mud Season, is to present a musical that lampoons topical issues without getting nasty, says Tom Clyde.
“We try to poke at what needs to be poked at in a fun and appreciative way,” said Clyde, who, along with Andy Cier, Josh Mann, Paul Tan, Rick Klein and Terry Moffitt, is part of the “Follies” creative team. “We do ‘t want to do that in an unfair or mean way. We want to embrace the community as much as we can.”
This year’s productions, titled “Park City Follies: Biodegradable Follies,” will run two weekends starting Friday, April 26, at the Egyptian Theatre.
The plot, according to Clyde, touches on Park City’s debates over social equity, climate change and the town’s ability to adapt.
“Somehow the Sundance Film Festival got in as well,” Clyde said. “For years and years we kept thinking we have to do something on Sundance, and this year there were a couple of angles that worked.”
For the past few years, “Park City Follies,” with its humorous, musical take on local issues and production value has become a must-see presentation for local residents.
But that wasn’t always the case, according to Clyde. It had humble beginnings.
“The production was, at best, a middle-school assembly type of show,” he said. “I remember the first year (2001). We did the first act, and during intermission half the cast went to get some drinks at The Alamo and didn’t come back.”
In that case, Clyde and one of the founders of the Park City Follies, Michie White, went on stage and finished the show with a quick second act.
“We only did one night, but we had so much fun pulling it together that we thought we would try it again the next year, which was 2002,” when the Winter Olympics came to Utah,” Clyde said. “There was a lot of material there, and the show was a fun blow off from all of the pressure, congestion and chaos that the games brought to town.”
From then, “Park City Follies” gained traction, and has gotten bigger and better, Clyde said.
“It’s fun what Follies has become in the community,” he said.
Tickets have been a hot item in the past four years, something for which Clyde is grateful.
“From a cast and production standpoint, there is nothing more disheartening to walk on stage to a nearly-empty theater,” he said.
This year’s general tickets are sold out, and the only seats left are for balcony and cabaret tables. (See accompanying story).
“With the demand at where it is, we always ask if we can do more shows, but the answer is ‘no,’” Clyde said. “The reason is because the cast members donate six weeks of their time to get involved with the intense effort to do this. No one gets paid, so to stretch to one more weekend just can’t happen.”
Even the creative team members, with the exception of Paul Tan, who does some acting and production, don’t have a background in theater.
“Rick does mortgages and Terry does radio commercials,” Clyde said. “Andy has a background in advertising and I practiced law for years.”
Still, “Park City Follies” is a creative outlet enjoyed by the team, and the challenge is to find strong, relevant topics to cover, Clyde said.
“We start the production in September, which is a gamble, because we are guessing what will continue to be a hot issue in April,” Clyde said. “This year, had I known in September how the Ikon Pass would impact Deer Valley and the town, the show would be a lot different.”
Still, before each performance, Clyde presents a monologue that catches some of those topics.
“We pick up on developing issues that we didn’t address in the script,” he said.
Egyptian Theatre manager Randy Barton said he is comfortable with giving the creative team carte blanche when it comes to the script.
“They don’t need to get any joke approved, and that, coincidentally, works out for the theater manager,” he said with a smile. “I can honestly say, ‘I didn’t know that was in there.’”
Editor’s note: Tom Clyde is a weekly columnist for The Park Record.
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Park City Institute presents CAM, Saturday, Aug. 24, and will wrap up the 2019 St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights Summer Concert Series.