The Park City Follies: ‘Infectious,’ indeed |

The Park City Follies: ‘Infectious,’ indeed

Alisha Self, Of the Record staff

Whenever something newsworthy happens in Summit County – whether it’s a swine flu outbreak, political debate or tree house dispute – the creative minds behind the Park City Follies are one step ahead, scheming how to translate the events into spoofs on stage.

The team didn’t have to look far this year for local Follies fodder. While the health care debate raged on in Washington, D.C., the Park City Medical Center opened its doors and, thus, became a prime target for the annual revue.

By the time news broke that the Medical Center has a private elevator to cater to high-profile patients, Follies scriptwriters Tom Clyde and Annette Velarde and lyricist Terry Moffitt were already hard at work outlining the 10th anniversary production, aptly titled "Infectious."

The curtain will rise on the Follies at The Egyptian Theatre next week, and for the first time, the show will continue for a second weekend.

Clyde, a Park Record columnist, formulated the Follies with National Ability Center co-founder Meeche White in 2001. What started as a silly way to celebrate the end of the ski season has transformed into a favorite tradition for Parkites.

The so-called ‘soap opera on stage’ exalts life in Park City by poking fun at everything from news events and local personalities to historic landmarks and age-old traditions. The show features a motley crew of familiar faces, voices and names, from real estate agents to nonprofit staff members.

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Over the past decade, Clyde estimates more than 300 people have been involved with the Follies. "It really has taken on a life of its own," he says.

Parkite John Spung, who has acted in each of the Follies productions since its inception, marvels at how far the show has come. He looks back on the first year as an amateur hour of sorts with about 15 drunk people bumbling about on stage.

Now the production features a 40-plus member cast, including nearly everyone who participated last year, professional stage design by Esther Aall, and choreographed song and dance numbers under the musical direction of Shelle Jennings.

"Every year someone says, ‘How are you going to top last year?’" Spung says. "But somehow we always manage to do it."

He predicts this year will be no exception.

According to Velarde, who began writing with Clyde in 2003, the central storyline pits ‘Rick Buff’ of KPCW – a spoof character based on the radio station’s local news reporter Rick Brough – against ‘Patrick Parkinglot’ of The Park Record – based on county editor Patrick Parkinson – in a race to get the scoop on mysterious happenings at the hospital.

Nothing is sacred, including the alleged miracle drink of a local company that manufactures nutritional supplements. The story is sprinkled with jabs at conservatives, cleverly altered musical numbers, and a topsy-turvy love affair.

In lieu of commercial breaks, the show uses video montages and mini segments featuring prominent community members. Local videographer Rick Klein has filmed various slots, including a parody introducing Intermountain Healthcare to the community and a proposed solution to neighborhood quarrels.

This year is the first time that a subject of the Follies will actually appear in the show, Velarde says. Amy Roberts, head of marketing for the Park City Medical Center, as well as Chief Executive Officer Rob Allen have joined the cast.

The hospital is also sponsoring the show and providing images, scrubs, gowns and props. "Their position was, ‘If you’re going to make fun of us, at least use high-quality images," Velarde says. "They’ve been incredibly generous."

The director of the show, Paul Tan, adds that to be made fun of in the Follies is a distinguished honor. "We don’t just spoof anyone – they have to be worthy," he says.

Tan took on directing the production last year after being involved in various aspects since 2005.

On Monday night, he stood before nearly four dozen amateur actors, singers and dancers with nothing but scripts in hand and penchants for making people laugh. By the preview night next Thursday, they’ll have come together to stage a full-scale production.

"We put it on in eight days essentially. I find that fascinating – scary, but fascinating," he says. When it comes down to the wire, "It’s all about the reaction you get from the community," he adds. "I remind myself of that when nights get hairy and feathers get ruffled."

"What the Follies is always about is laughing at ourselves," Velarde says. There is a moral, too, but to find out what it is, you’ll have to see the show, she says.

Tickets for the preview night on Thursday, April 22, are $20. The show continues April 23-24 and April 30-May 1. Regular ticket prices are $25. All performances start at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 7:30 p.m. For tickets, call 649-9371 or log on to