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Park City Follies show will virtually go on

Paul Tan, right, directs a number during one of last years Park City Follies rehearsal at the Egyptian Theatre. Although the COVID-19 protocols has prevented the annual musical spoof to open Friday, Park City Follies will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a virtual performance online at follies2020.com.
Park Record file photo

What: “Follies 20/20”

When: 8 p.m. on Friday, April 24

Cost: Free

Web: follies2020.com

The opening of the 20th annual Park City Follies is going to be special in a way that wasn’t planned.

Instead of kick-starting a nine-night run of the musical spoof that makes fun of all things Park City and raises money for the Egyptian Theatre, Follies will stream a free one-hour virtual show, “Follies 20/20,” online at follies2020.com, said Tom Clyde, one of the writers and members of the production’s creative team.

While the two-decade retrospective won’t fully replace the live show, which has been rescheduled to open on Oct. 23, it is a way for the local community to laugh at themselves, Clyde said.

“I think people will find it entertaining as they sit huddled together in their living rooms, knowing somebody in the house next door is also huddled in their living room watching it,” he said. “We can all be together alone.”

This is the first time that the live production, which has played through multiple economic crises, pandemics and wars, has had to be postponed, according to Clyde.

“When we opened during the wars, the dilemma people had was either staying at home to watch the invasion of Kuwait or attend the Follies,” Clyde said. “I remember doing live updates of the war during those shows.”

In 2010, Follies opened during the swine flu pandemic.

“That wasn’t anywhere near what (COVID-19) is, but we had a couple of active cases locally,” Clyde said. “A family had been on a vacation and came home with swine flu, and the Summit County Health Department shut everything down.”

Luckily, at 5 p.m. on opening night, the health department gave Follies a green light to open, he said.

The idea to present an online production this year came after what Clyde called “a few Zoom cocktail parties” with the production’s creative team — Clyde, Paul Tan, Terry Moffitt, Rick Klein, Andy Cier, Lisa Walker and Josh Mann.

“We had a show already to go, but then the ‘plague’ hit about the time we were going to hand the script over to the cast, and everything stopped,” Clyde said, referring to COVID-19. “There was a pretty high disappointment factor, given we started working on this almost a year ago when we started shooting some of the videos. So Andy and Josh said we should put together a virtual show.”

The virtual production will start, as per tradition, with Clyde’s monologue, and feature some inserts from Tan and Egyptian Theatre manager Randy Barton, Tan said.

Clyde learned how to shoot his own videos from his computer while preparing his opening monologue.

“The problem was I started doing it and looked at the background and said, that is not acceptable, because of the piles of dirty laundry and junk stacked all over the place,” he said. “I tried doing it on my phone out in the barn, but the sound quality wasn’t good.”

Back at square one, Clyde decided to rearrange the furniture in the house and rehang some paintings to come up with a backdrop that worked.

“I’m doing the usual line intro, and it felt kind of strange doing it with no audience other than the dogs, who were not amused at all,” he said with a laugh.

The online presentation will also feature videos that were shown in increments during past live performances, as well as a couple of new ones, said Tan, who directs the live shows.

“Since it’s our 20th anniversary, we did want to include something from this year, and flavor it with something that no one has seen before,” he said. “So we picked two videos that were in the can ready for the live show.”

The creative team then sorted through and voted on the other videos that would be shown Friday, according to Tan.

“These are the videos that we felt have meaning and that are fitting, and don’t feel too dated,” he said.

In addition, the group is including video excerpts of actual productions that took place in 2014 and the and 2017, Tan said.

“I think we’re going to get a lot of people who have never seen Follies, and this will be a chance for them to see what the stage show is like,” he said. “While you can’t replicate what it’s like to sit in an audience with 350 other people, you can see what we do.”

As with all Follies presentations, the cast will perform some musical numbers, one of which is about the quarantine. The lyrics were written by Moffitt and will be sung to the tune of Madonna’s hit, “Material Girl,” Clyde said.

To pull this off, cast members recorded themselves singing the same song into their iPhones and sent the videos to Mann, who edited them together, according to Tan.

“We usually like to spread out the blame or credit, but the credit needs to go to Josh because he is doing all the tech,” Tan said. “He is not only doing tech for the video, he is doing it for the whole presentation, and we would not have been able to do this if it wasn’t for him.”

Unlike past live Follies productions, the online presentation will start on time, Clyde said with a laugh.

“It also won’t be (like a prerecorded video)in the sense that you can start, pause and restart it,” he explained. “It will be like a live performance in that once it starts it will keep going.”

In addition, Tan said tickets that have been purchased for the live show will be honored in October.

“We also ask ifyou‘re not going to be able to make the October run, that you request a gift card in exchange,” he said. “That way the Egyptian can still raise some funds.”


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