Park City Follies makes a quick turnaround for second string of live performances in 8 months
Musical farce is shorter and tighter this year
After returning to a live performance in August following two years of virtual streams brought on by coronavirus concerns, the Park City Follies’ new feat is to present another nine-night, in-person production starting Friday.
Visit parkcityshows.com for ticket information.
A change in the creative process of the musical farce that pokes fun at all things Park City made this undertaking possible, said director Paul Tan and videographer Josh Mann, who are part of the creative team that includes Andy Cier, Tom Clyde, Rick Klien and Terry Moffitt.
“Paul has taken a larger role and participated more in the writing this year,” Mann said. “Tom usually wrote it in the past, and then we would all pitch in. But we changed things a little this time. If we would have done it the same way as we have, there wouldn’t have been enough time to do this.”
A thinner script is another reason the Follies curtain can rise a mere six months after it fell on the last performance, Tan said.
“Making a shorter show was a goal from the beginning,” he said, “We wanted to make this thing shorter, because we have tended to run a little long in the past.”
A shorter script gives the show potential to become tighter and more funny, Mann said.
“We’re also getting a little older, and it’s hard keeping the energy up,” he said. “Also, people can get tired laughing.”
Another challenge that isn’t regulated to creating a shorter script is choosing a topic that is ripe for lampooning, Mann said.
“Park City is so gosh-darn funny and there is an abundance of material, because at any given day, you open The Park Record and go, ‘Oh, my God. These people did what?’” he said. “With so many ideas, which do you pick? We want to laugh along at ourselves, but we also want to poke fun at everybody. So at some point you have to write the script and make the videos. But you also want to wait, because there might be something funnier tomorrow.”
While past Follies performances have lampooned transportation issues and the Vail acquisition of Park City Mountain Resort, the main issue in Follies’ crosshairs this year is the proposed Arts and Culture District, which supporters say will help Park City become a global destination for artists, musicians and those who love creativity.
Although the proposal was met with widespread support when it was proposed in 2017, the support has apparently lessened a bit during the pandemic.
“The issue Follies looks at is are we getting signals about whether or not we’re doing things right or wrong?” Mann said. “Are we the frog in the pot that is boiling or did we turn on the pot and jump in?”
The creative team decided to frame the issue in the proverbial canary in a coal mine scenario, according to Tan.
“Canaries are killed by poisonous gases, but in our case, we don’t know what the gases are,” he said. “It’s about how we look at events that we sometimes don’t know are harbingers of what’s to come before it’s too late. We have to open our minds about something that isn’t seemingly a huge decision that could lead to something down the road that signals the end.”
Taking on the role of head writer has been a learning curve for Tan, although he’s directed Follies for the past 13 years.
“I’ve written tons of things in the past, and I’m very open to editing and changes,” he said. “I also know that you cannot be a perfectionist when you work on Follies. We have a whopping six months to put this on. That’s hard for a lot of people, who tend to be more on the perfectionist side.”
In the same frame, Follies wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for all who work on it, including band coordinator Katy Lilquist and stage manager Lisa Walker, according to Tan.
“One thing that fascinated people is that we have only nine rehearsals, and we have 39 amateurs who aren’t getting paid to do something for the good of a community that needs and deserves it,” he said. “You can’t forget that it’s a team effort from the people with the most lines to the people who have the least amount of lines. In the end, Park City Follies is about having a bunch of friends come over and watch something we made.”
When: April 22-May 1
Where: Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.
Moats knows in this day and age of teacher shortages, burnout and turnover that she’s an idealist when she hopes to see an elevation of the standards for teacher knowledge and preparation.
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