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Will Rogers Follies
a Musical
by Cy Coleman, Betty Comden, Adolph Green

COMPANY : Blackwell Playhouse
VENUE : Blackwell Playhouse
ID# 2261

SHOWING : May 04, 2007 - May 26, 2007



Winner of "Best Musical" Tony for 1991, the show tells the story of famous entertainer and comedian, Will Rogers. They tell his story as though it is a Ziegfeld Follies Revue. The show includes the songs, Give A Man Enough Rope, Never Met A Man, My Big Mistake and Willamania.

Cast John Christian
Director Rob Hardie
Lighting Designer Gerard Foret
Choreographer Colleen Hargis
Stage Manager Theresa Lingren
Asst. Director Jennifer Loudermilk
Music Director Amanda Leigh Pickard
Follies Girl Katie Borden
Sister Paige Born
Sister Valerie Halick
Clem Rogers Rob Hardie
Ziegfeld's Favorite Colleen Hargis
Follies Girl Kaitlyn Howland
Freddy Rogers Emily Howland
Sister Kathy Kucifer
Follies Girl Dixie Light
Follies Girl Theresa Lingren
Ziegfeld, Cowboy Tim Link
Sister Jennifer Loudermilk
Stage Manager Jennifer Loudermilk
Cowboy Banks Martin
Follies Girl Katharine Martin
Will Jr Garner Martin
Cowboy Tony Miller
Follies Girl Suzanne Milton
Will Rogers Mark Owen
Betty Blake Rogers Amanda Leigh Pickard
Follies Girl Robin Reeder
Cowboy, Bass Dan Shelles
Wiley Post/Quartet Christopher Ryan Smith
sister Christopher Ryan Smith
Mary Rogers Victory Van Tuyl
James Rogers Trey Van Tuyl
Sister Erika West
Cowboy Nick Wilinski
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


by who'sthat
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Okay, I went with a friend who had comps. Sat. night hoping this, my favorite show, would have gotten better since the start of the run. Not so. The opening number was just as bad with no one still seeming to understand what they were doing. Z's fav just can't sing that part. Will's rope tricks statred out okay. I do not understand at all why a director would take an audience out of the show with making a joke about his numerous marriages. I didn't get it the first time I saw the show having no idea who he was. I feel sorry for his future wife. Stick to celebrities for that kind of joke. I had to explain that one to my friend. Will didn't get his Texas skip but that really doesn't matter. Anyone that can do any type of rope trick should be commended. However, he seemed tired, maybe from being humiliated from doing this show. I don't know what happened at the end of the show when Will kept looking back at the piano player and playing with his hat. If the piano player was off, as he so often was, it was in poor taste for Will to so blatantly point it out. Betty still bumbled her way through. I did feel sorry for her when stumbled and broke character during her torch song. She seemed to have finally made Will hate her as much as the audience hated her, he acted like it. Study your characters before you try to perform them. Clem taking the wig off of the manly sister totally took me out of the show. Grow up! The removal of one wig during a show is plently. The campaign number was excellent! But why did Z's fav. pinch Will's butt when she ran off? Again, grow up! All in all this show reminded me of a bad high school musical with frustrated old men thrown in because they needed a cheap thrill. One should never make an audience sit through the last show thank you's. That's what the program is for. After the show I did shake hands with Will, Betty, Clem and the older Z girl/woman. Of course I told them they were wonderful...ahh the warped world of community theatre. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Here's Our Will!
by Molly
Sunday, May 27, 2007
I have seen this show a few times before so I was familiar with it prior to this production and was a little apprehensive about it being done at Blackwell. Let's face it. Blackwell Playhouse did attempt a difficult production to do in such a small space. WRF is definitely supposed to be high "flashy-trashy" entertainment with a big set and large stage for big production numbers. However, partly because of the limitations, they did fall short. There were some really outstanding performances, but yet, some not so good, and even at times, painful.

I do wish that I could have reviewed this show while it was still open to recommend that people see this show for the performances of Mark Owen, Colleen Hargis, and Rob Hardie. The show may not have been great, but their performances were.

Mark Owen was spectaular as Will. He, as another reviewer commented, became Will Rogers. Rob Hardie was so perfect for the role of Clem Rogers. He captured the part perfectly. He and Mark had good chemistry in the strained relationship between father and son.

As the consensus of reviewers seems to agree, Colleen Hargis, pretty much stole the show as Z's Favorite. At first, I didn't think I was going to like her, but was soon won over. She had good vocals on "Willamania", but I was most impressed with her acting, especially when she had to go from being Z's Favorite to when everything fell apart when the Depression hit. It is so refreshing to see a performance from someone who is a triple threat. Too many community theatres cast solely on vocals and end up with someone who can't act or vice versa.

However, I was very disappointed in Amanda Leigh Pickard's performance as Betty Blake. I had seen her production of "Quilters" which she directed and was very impressed. I wasn't quite so impressed with her performance here. She portrayed Betty as pouty for the first part of the show and bitchy for the rest. She didn't make me like, empathize, or connect at all with Betty. When she sang "No Man Left For Me", I kind of didn't blame Will for not being at home. I wouldn't want to be around her either. I didn't see any chemistry at all between Betty and Will that I have seen in previous WRF productions. Vocally, she seemed to have some transition problems between her lower and upper register, which seems to have become a pet peeve of mine. My best advice to someone would be that if you want to play leads, find a teacher who will teach you to use your mixed voice properly so you can make those transitions.

Overall the chorus was pretty bad. Without Colleen Hargis' lead vocals, "Willamania" would have been a disaster. The chorus looked awkward and had little energy. I wasn't terribly impressed with the choreography, but it may have been more that the chorus doing the choreography was unimpressive. With the exception of one, the cowboys either were too young or too old for the part. A couple of the follies' girls and sisters also looked too young. I doubt Ziegfeld would have hired Follies girls with braces. Most of the production numbers were just alright, but understandably, they were very limited on space to do too much. Of the sisters, one did really stand out for me and unfortunately I'm not sure of her name. She had long, dark curly hair and a little larger than the others and also doubled as the on-stage stage manager. She had really big expressions that are perfect for musical theatre and really stood out. She was totally present in every scene. Too many of the other chorus members were looking off as though they were daydreaming or like no one was looking at them anyway since the focus was on Will or someone else on stage. Be present in the scene!

The kids were OK, but one really stood out for me. Victory Van Tuyl, who played Mary Rogers, was delightful. She was so bright-eyed and seemed to be loving every minute of her stage time. I couldn't take my eyes off of her every time she came on stage. She may have a very promising future ahead of her. She definitely had an unbelievable amount of stage presence.

Overall, WRF was definitely a mixture of talents. It had some promising performances, but as a whole lacked the excitement and flashiness that this show was meant to exude.

Second chance
by 4stars
Monday, May 21, 2007
I would like to know why my review got deleted.
Can't handle the truth? Don't ask for it.
If you're just fishing for comments here just say so.
I went a second time because it was my mothers favorite play, and it's close to home. It had gotten a bit better since I saw it last, but if you do something a dozen times you're bound to get the hang of it eventually.
My mother enjoyed it which made the ticket price worth it. Then again mom liked Glitter. So much for taste. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
by TheaterReview
Please see the thread regarding guidelines for reviews in the forum.
free to review
by who'sthat
Friday, May 18, 2007
Having been exonerated of all alleged crimes regarding attacking the character of actors,I have been given permission to repost my review of this show.

The cast is not believable. The guy who played Will was more believable than the rest except that he is a wispy middle aged man. He looked as if he might break. Will Rogers was a much more rugged cowboy. The rope tricks were great though, KUDOS. Betty, well Betty was not so hot. Her voice is piercing and her acting overdone with too much venom. Betty Blake, according to her children, never held it against Will for lack of attendence in the home. She adored the man and this Betty does not portray that at all. The Z girls were no where near show girl material and seemed much more interested in upstaging Will. The little blond with the braces was the best. As for Z's Fav... better than Betty but...oh never mind. The cowboys- obviously they took what they could get. The six sisters were hilarious. Too bad wardrobe neglected them. The lighting was bad. There was no sound. The power point at the end took away from Will's farewell. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Whaaa? by SandyW
I saw this show in BYC years ago. The slides were at the end of that too. And Betty was bitter about Wills absences, and he was played by a thin middle aged man (I think the guy won the Tony). I could be wrrong, but many of your complaints seem to be with the script.
Thank you. by TheaterReview
I appreciate you posting your review again.
ignore the crazies
by feather
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Why so many reviews for this show? why r there more reviews than audence members,.? hhahaha lol! and what hellish reviews too. like, omg ppl, u have an axe to grind? someone piss u off? u hate that much? jeez, then all the fake reviews tryin to cover up the hate. like really, we kno ur in the show! come on ppl!. ok ok ok. now feather, get to the show, ok? ok i will. here it is. well its good. i liked it. not great stuff, but everyone had fun. the actors. the audiance. and that matters alot to me. Ok, the music wasnt perfect and some of the acting wasnt two good. but the energy pretty good. oh and the dancing was fabustastic. and the costumes was fabustatic. wow. and lest i say some of the lead performances were friggin amazing, espec zeigfields favorite! man, she stole the show. yay!!!! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
well by feather
all the crazies got deleted, so kno that if u read my review that there was a bunch of 1s and 0s.
feather by Richard Long
I love you. Let's go out sometime.
More than I expected
by SandyW
Monday, May 14, 2007
Friends dragged me to see this show. Before we went we took a look at this site. I had never been on here before. I was scared that I had wasted my money after reading a couple of reviews. I am not sure what some of the reviewers were talking about. What I saw was an above average community theater show, with an above average cast. The costumes were amazing. Some of the images and lighting were fantastic. The show was super high energy and quickly paced. If I had any complaint, it would be some dimmer lighting in spots,but I think that is minor.
I do not understand the need (on what seems like it could be such a constructive site) to annihilate things so heavily. I'm new here, but is the Atlanta Theatre community really that self cannibalistic where they want to destroy one another instead of build each other up? Just curious. I also want to say that I love how the actors connected with the audience. Will and Betty had great chemistry and their voices suited their characters. The ensemble seemed totally lost in their roles (in a good way) I really felt like I was taken on a journey. I recommend it highly. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
I had a free night so I went.
by redmarker
Sunday, May 13, 2007
I saw this show last night. I was astounded at what a great show a bunch of non-paid people in the age range from 7-70 [it looked like] could put on. I especially liked the man who played Will Rogers. I was wondering how a new theatre such as Blackwell Playhouse could afford such extravagant costumes. Being it's first large production, [I was told by the owner] the actors on stage seemed to be having a great time. Having a great time is the essence of a community production, right? [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
good show
by washer
Sunday, May 13, 2007



so... by mooniemcmoonster
if a community theatre show is long then its worth paying a higer price for admission? sometimes i'd pay extra for one to end. (i don't mean this show...haven't seen it yet)
Will's Folly
by Showdog
Saturday, May 12, 2007
It's always admirable to set the bar high for yourself--as Blackwell Playhouse does with "Will Roger's Follies", but you also need the wisdom to know when you're out of your element, and Blackwell is galaxies out of its element with this show.

First off, if you don't have the cast to carry off a show, find another show. If you don't have the singers and musicians to support a big musical, plan a non-musical. Blackwell's "Will Rogers Follies" contained almost every aspect of the worst kind of community theatre. The sound was particularly lacking. Singers sounded unsure of their pitches and sometimes seemed to be in a different key than the pianist. You could see dancers thinking hard about their movements and counting to themselves. The pianist was adequate (and I understand he came in at the last minute, so kudos to him). However, the sound coming from the stage, both instrumental and vocal, was extremely weak, with no presence, style or energy...a fatal flaw in a musical.

The set was fine and costumes were often impressive, particularly "Ziegfeld's favorite"--though the vinyl chaps were extremely cheesy, and why was the mature gentleman wearing an ROTC uniform in the finale? Lighting left a bit to be desired--lots of shadows where there shouldn't have been. Choreography was not bad--and the hand-jive number, taken from the original production, was well-rehearsed and executed--a major kudo to the cast for this. It was one of the few moments when the show came alive.

As for casting: Mark Owen was a likable Will Rogers and certainly had a Will Rogers quality to his performance. But he didn't truly take command of the stage and show vocally--singing or speaking. Sad, because the potential was there--his director should have given him far more help with that. Great job with the rope tricks, though! Amanda Pickard, as Will's wife, tried hard and obviously is comfortable onstage, but her singing seemed forced and her performance was frantic, almost desperate. The show's director, Rob Hardie portrayed Will's father. He's a very strong actor, but a weak singer, and the inadequate sound spotlighted that weakness. Will's six sisters were certainly funny, with the addition of the male-in-drag-sister, but a bit sad that one of the highlights of a show is a man in drag. The chorus sure tried hard, but the very wide range of ages, sizes and abilities in the chorus made it painful to watch. Choruses, whether they be vocal or dance choruses, need vocal power and precision to justify their presence in a show and grab an audience--and though this chorus tried hard, the power and precision was not there--with the exception of the hand-jive number.

But thank God for Colleen Hargis, "Ziegfeld's Favorite". Perfectly done, full of energy, grace and presence. You could almost hear the audience whisper "thank God" every time she strutted or sashayed across the stage. Brava, Ms. Hargis.

The direction of the show did not reflect a knowledge of energy, movement and momentum-- those things which make a musical entertaining. The direction seemed to consist of telling the actors which step to sit on. Once again, thank you Ms. Hargis, for what little direction the show had came from her role as choreographer.

Ticket prices for community theatre shows keep creeping up--and Blackwell Playhouse's "Will Rogers Follies" falls far short of giving the audience its money's worth and justifying the increasing expense of a night at the theatre. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Per your request
by Parrott65
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
I am posting a review of the production I saw last Friday night, since it appears so many of you expected me to do so and seem to be pusing me into it, hehehe. Therefore, here we are and here are my feelings on the show. I will have to say that the fact that the show lost the group of people that it did certainly came out in the overall performance of the show. The highlights of the show were clearly Colleen Hargis, Amanda Pickard, Mark Owen, Banks Martin, and the Follies Girls. These individuals were very prepared in their roles and were a delight to see as they entered and exited the stage. The lighting was excellent, the costumes were magnificant, and the choreography was phenominal. I liked the set design too to be quite honest. It was simple, yet acheived the point that was trying to be conveyed.
Yet, there were some aspects of the show that needed severe work and made the overall show fall a tad short of what I would've expected from that show. This show is, for the most part, a biography. It covers his life from start to finish and it's about the music numbers that drive it home. First of all was the sound issue. I couldn't hear many of the singers. Some countryman mikes would've probably fixed this issue and I would suggest that Blackwell make this their next investment. Yes, it's a smaller theater. However, you can't expect to always cast those that can project the way you need. This is community theater, which means that you take whoever you can get that will work for free. Therefore, use some technology to bring out what is lacking. That's where the microphones come in handy. The combo was a bit unprepared (but this goes to the issue of losing the pianist that I heard they lost). I felt that there were instruments missing that needed to be heard. It became evident in the opening scene where the follies girls were doing a huge opening number and the music was lacking some "power" to really make it a big show opener. The girls were trying to do a big show dance routine, but it looked dead due to the lack of accompaniment that was provided. Let me be clear about that. The dancing, in itself, was amazing. It's the accompaniment that fell short. I was so impressed by the choreographer, I would certainly look her up to assist with any show I need choreography in, for the future. I would also look her up for other things, but she's married, so forget that. My next issue I had a problem with is the preparedness of the chorus numbers. The singers weren't pushed to their limits. The cowboys were dropping out of lines and standing there with their mouths shut, when they should've been singing. I noticed this right off the bat, in the opening scene. It was clear that the chorus wasn't prepared, but the solos were. You take a chorus of people who drop out of singing in the middle of a line and put weak accompaniment to it, then the whole scene is killed. As stated before, the solos were great. Amanda and Mark pulled off some excellent numbers and shined in their moments. I particularly liked Amanda's whole "I am ticked off at my husband" number.
What else? What else....Well, other than the show, I have to compliment John Christian on a job well done of cleaning up the place and getting it off the ground. The artwork he posted in the lobby was a nice touch. It's a work in progress as I could see, but it looks great already and he should be commended on getting that place open. Seats were comfy, temperature was great, politeness of the employees was excellent, and I'm very impressed with this facility and it's potential. So, overall, my outting was a half and half experience, which is where the "3" comes in. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Let me add something else... by Parrott65
I always go back and read what I typed after it's been sent. I read it once, then read it again, and make sure I mentioned everything I did and did not like about a production. It occured to me that I didn't even mention what I thought of the Director's job in this whole thing. I feel for Rob Hardie on this production. He had a staff of people, specifically the pianist and the Music Director, that walked out on him during the production. That isn't his fault by any means. So, by sitting back and looking at the overall picture of the show, he did an excellent job of pulling off the show given what he had to work with. Was it his fault the combo wasn't ready? No....Was it his fault the Music Director walked out on him? Nope...Was it his fault he didn't have microphones in the budget? Of course not, because the Director works with what he is given to work with. So, I have to take my hat off to Rob Hardie for what he achieved. I also can't say anything about the cast's role in all of that either. They did a great job, given the staff they had to guide them. Oh well, that's my opinion, good or bad....
A three?!? come on parrot.. by actor_luvin_fan
Lighten up! I know people need to be louder, but I see that as Brodway!
What's wrong with a "3"? by Parrott65
You know, when you review productions on here, there are far worse numbers to give someone than a "3". I could've given them a "2", a "1", or even a "0".
I know that.. by actor_luvin_fan
But, in my thoughts I say it's worth a "5" but, i can't change how you think..
Not a bad show!
by theaterislife
Monday, May 7, 2007
For an opening night the show wasnít bad. There was a small issue it seemed with the music in the beginning but the cast seemed to keep it together. Ziegfeldís favorite was amazing. I canít tell you how many costumes she must have had. The sisters were hilarious. I couldnít figure out if their fall was apart of the act or not. They held it together pretty well if it was an accident. I will give a thumbs up to Clem as well for his performance.

Mark Owen as Will was absolutely wonderful. He really seemed to have those mannerisms down pat. He even made the jumps through the rope. That alone was worth it. Betty was good as well, very nice voice, excellent emotion at the end. The chorus seemed a little weak at times but I donít know if it was just nerves or what. Even with that it was pretty impressive how they managed to keep singing and stay in step with their choreography. The best number of the night was the Campaign act. Their seated choreography was well done. Overall the show was great for an opening. If you have a chance I would definitely go check it out. Good Luck with the rest of the run! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Thanks. by actor_luvin_fan
thanks for agreeing with me! I mean it deserves to be on Brodway I think.
A 4.5 for a surprisingly great show!
by MuzicKal
Monday, May 7, 2007
So, I saw Steel Magnolias (By the same director) at this theater, and it was very well done. When they said that they were doing, "Will Rogers Follies", I thought them to be a bit over ambitious. It is not a huge space. I saw the original, with Keith Carradine on Broadway and didn't see how they could possibly do this show justice. I guess (as my wife tells me) I have to admit when I am wrong.

The director uses every inch of the space to grab you in. With projections , lighting and a decent set, they draw you in. The cast energy is amazing. Mark Owen doesn't just Play Will Rogers, he is Will Rogers. Amanda Leigh Pickard did a very nice job as Will's wife. Her shining moment is her last song, and her farewell to Will. Very Nice emotional range and great chemistry between the two. Rob Hardie as Will's Dad was a very nice piece of comic vaudeville, and Colleen Hargis stole almost every scene as the main follies girl. A couple of stand outs in the ensemble were Chris Smith who played various roles, including a woman at one point and the four Roger's children.

The choreography was way above average for community theatre and blended in very well with the direction. Okay, now the downsides. The pianist seemed a bit off at times and I wish there were more band members. They had a nice trio (Bass, Drums and piano)but it would have been nice to have a couple more musicians for this big score. I kept hearing noise backstage and in the lobby, which sometimes shattered my focus. Lastly, I couldn't tell if the cowboys bumbling through some choreography was planned or if they were having trouble. If it is planned, it needs to be more obvious. That's it. I really do recommend this one. Hats off to cast, choreographer and a director who creatively made the follies happen in the smallest of theatres. The joke is on me, I was so prepared to dislike this. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
He is a brilliant director! by actor_luvin_fan
The director seems to bring in a lot of depth into his shows, and he uses every inch of stage for his magnificent coreography.
Thanks for an honest review by whispering_willoww
As a member of the cast, I greatly appreciate your review. Thanks for supporting us. We have all worked hard on the music and choreography in the past few months. I'm glad to say we could entertain you and rise above your expectations. We will work on the distractions. JL
Who is a member of the cast? by actor_luvin_fan
Whom whom?? come on!!!! I can review you if i know whom you are soo spit it out!!!
by Okely Dokely
I imagine it's the person with the initials of JL, since that's how they signed their name in the comment above. Upon looking at the cast list, I see only one JL.

Elementary, my dear Watson.
Oh.. duh stupid fan!!! by actor_luvin_fan
Oh thank ur nice I am just dumb..
omg I know who it is!! by actor_luvin_fan
I know I know!!!!! good job jl you were funny in some parts.


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