‘Park City Follies’ turns sweet 16
The resorts have closed for the winter, summer preparations have begun and all the tourists have gone back to their hometowns.
That means it’s "Park City Follies" time.
This year marks the 16th "Follies," an irreverent and fun, locally produced and acted musical that makes fun of all things Park City while raising money for the Egyptian Theatre.
The performances, which will begin Friday, April 22, feature Park City and Summit County residents, who may or may not have acted or sung in public before, but that has never hindered ticket sales.
In fact, this year’s run has sold out. The only tickets available are limited Pharaoh Club seating. For more information about the Pharaoh Club, visit http://www.parkcityshows.com.
The brisk sales surprised even the "Park City Follies" creative team, which features writer Terry Moffitt and director Paul Tan, who talked with The Park Record last week.
"Five years ago, when the Egyptian Theatre opened up its tickets sales for ‘Jesus Christ Superstar,’ it sold more than $10,000 in one day, and that’s been the standing record," Tan said. "Well, ‘Follies’ tickets went on sale on a Tuesday and it was supposed to be a quiet ticket launch."
On that particular Tuesday, four weeks ago, the Egyptian Theatre sold $25,000 worth of ‘Park City Follies’ tickets.
"We more than doubled the record, but it also put us behind the eight ball, because we still had our cast tickets and special VIP tickets we needed to take care of," Tan said. "We thought we had a month to take care of those, but because tickets were selling so quickly, we had to scramble."
Not that Tan is complaining.
"It was still fantastic for all the right reasons because it reaffirms to us how much this production means to the community as a whole," he said. "It’s exciting to know the community supports this at that level."
By community, Tan means local Park City and Summit County residents.
"I’m not talking about the community the Egyptian reaches in Salt Lake City," he said. "I mean the people who live here."
That sentiment is reflected in every "Park City Follies" performance and Tan believes the major aspect of "Park City Follies" success is keeping the topics local.
"We don’t talk about the national election politics," he said. "While those are easy targets, they aren’t local."
In the past, the musical took good-natured swipes at local schoolteachers and the abundance of Delta pilots who live in the area.
"This year, the show is about traffic and congestion and our heroes are the local bus drivers from Park City Transportation," Tan said. "And we have six of them in the production. These bus drivers circle our city every day and they are going to open the show every night.
"The show also talks about gated communities and athletes, but the real heroes in our community that make this town go, are the locals," he said. "They are the heart and soul of our town."
Tan even recruited Park City High School student Audrey White to create the poster for this year’s run.
That’s why the sellout resonates with Tan, who says the show is still put on for the right reasons.
"It is and always will be by the community for the community," he said. "It’s still the same show in essence as the show that first went on and hasn’t lost its way. It’s just bigger and better."
Every year, Tan and Moffitt are approached by people who would like to be in the production, but can’t because they can’t commit to the time, so a few years ago, the show introduced video.
"This year we have 86 non-stage performers that helped in some way, shape or form," Moffitt said.
"We have 24 to 30 people who will appear on stage and 86 additional people who have helped and appeared mostly in videos," Tan said. "I mean, Park City mayors have been in the videos for six or seven years and we’ve had council members as well. So, the number of people who can say they’ve have been involved in the ‘Follies’ in the past 16 years has got to be approaching 600 to 700 people."
Moffitt enjoys selecting people for videos.
"Sometimes the roles just present themselves and the perfect person comes to mind," she said. "We had 38 this year in one video alone and the response blew me away."
Sometimes it’s all about who is available, according to Moffitt.
"For example, we needed someone who would urinate on a fire hydrant this year and I called someone who lived in my cul-de-sac and they said yes," Moffitt said with a laugh.
Moffitt is amazed at the results.
"Sometimes the people you don’t think will be good on video turn out to be great and there have been times when we have had to say, ‘You may not want to take that off, because it may be something you might regret, especially on video,’" she said with another laugh.
"We have a lot of incriminating evidence on many people," he said, joining in the laughter. "Sometimes it’s shocking as to what some people in our community are willing to do."
"There are many people who will not be able to run for office," Moffitt said.
While some locals enjoy the notoriety, others become local heroes by appearing in a "Park City Follies" video.
"We had one woman who is a cashier at Fresh Market appear in a video and the audience cheered," Moffitt said.
"Even now, when I see her, she tells me that eight to 10 people approach her every day to say they saw her in the ‘Follies’ video," Tan said.
Still, the goal isn’t about pandering to local personalities or introducing new residents to the throng, he said.
"It’s about putting on a good show for the community," Tan said. "That’s the only goal we have."
Moffitt enjoys that the "Follies" can give back to the community in a unique and fun way.
"When people see this year’s production, maybe they’ll see how hard-working these bus drivers are, or better, use the bus a little more," she said.
"Park City Follies," the annual musical that pokes fun at all things Park City, will run from Friday, April 22 to Sunday, April 24 and Wednesday, April 27, to Sunday, May 1. Showtimes are 8 p.m. except for the Sunday performances, which will open at 6 p.m. The show is mostly sold out. For ticket information, visit http://www.parkcityshows.com.
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Park City High School sophomore Emily Bronstein founded the Seraphine Project that helps at-risk teens in Zimbabwe and Zambia.