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The Will Rogers Follies

CATEGORY : MUSICAL
by Book - Peter Stone; Music - Cy Coleman; Lyrics - Betty Comden & Adolph Green

COMPANY : Atlanta Lyric Theatre
VENUE : The Strand
ID# 3512

SHOWING : September 04, 2009 - September 20, 2009

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Subtitled “A Life in Revue”, this bright and breezy Tony Award-winning production focuses on the life and career of famed humorist and performer Will Rogers, using as a backdrop the Ziegfeld Follies, which he often headlined, and describes every episode in his life in the form of a big production number. The revue contains snippets of Rogers’ famous homespun style of wisdom and common sense to convey the personality of this quintessentially American figure whose most famous quote was “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Gorgeous show girls, rope tricks, big dance numbers…and…Will Rogers, what more could you ask for in a musical?


CAST & CREW LIST
Stage and Music Director Brandt Blocker
Betty Blake Christy Baggett
Ziegfeld's Favorite Natalie Barrow
New Ziegfeld Follies Girl Katie Borden
New Ziegfeld Follies Girl Priscilla Curtis
Wrangler Josh Donahue
Will Rogers Alan Kilpatrick
New Ziegfeld Follies Girl Sims Lamason
New Ziegfeld Follies Girl Dixie Light
Clem Rogers/Roper Chris McDaniel
Wrangler Brett Parker
New Ziegfeld Follies Girl Becca Potter
New Ziegfeld Follies Girl Megan Reardon
New Ziegfeld Follies Girl Becky Simmons
New Ziegfeld Follies Girl Jennifer Smiles
Wrangler Brad Southards
Wiley Post Robert Wayne
Wrangler Jeremy Wood
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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A Must-See Production
by playgoer
Sunday, September 13, 2009
5.0
Atlanta Lyric Theatre's production of "The Will Rogers Follies" is a wonderful evening (or afternoon) of entertainment. This was my first time at the Strand in Marietta, but the same can't be said for the lady behind me -- she exclaimed with delight that she was back for the second time in a week to see the show, and after curtain call was considering coming back for a third time.

The scenic painting by Lindsey O'Shields sets the stage for the show with its scrim of Will Rogers' face, surrounded by a lariat-inspired proscenium painting. A few scenic pieces are employed, but the main set is a series of twelve steps the width of the stage. This allows for Ziegfeld-style production numbers of beautifully dressed women ascending and descending the stairs in choreography strongly influenced by the original Broadway staging. A rope-trimmed walkway covers the orchestra pit and adds to the playing area, allowing more room for the Follies Girls to promenade.

The Follies Girls are highly synchronized and perform their energetic dances with flair. They're all excellent, but I always found my eyes gravitating to Sims Lamason, whose work I have admired previously at the Aurora and in Onstage Atlanta's "Urinetown." The four male wranglers are also excellent, performing their parts with wide smiles and pleasant harmonies.

The four Rogers kids perform with aplomb, but they are eclipsed by their onstage parents. Christy Baggett makes for a wonderful, expressive Betty Blake Rogers. Her looks remind me of a prettier Joan Cusack, but she has the voice of a belting angel. Terrific! Alan Kilpatrick carries the show as Will Rogers, using a mischievous glint in his eye to add to his wry delivery of Rogers' observations and aphorisms. His rope tricks are pretty poor, but those of Chris McDaniel (playing Will's father Clem and a variety of other roles) are terrific. The interplay of the characters is great, and Mr. Kilpatrick brings appropriate touches of emotion, especially at the end of the show. As for his voice? The lady behind me remarked on multiple occasions to her companion that his voice was much better than that of Keith Carradine, who originated the role.

Natalie Barrow, as Ziegfeld's Favorite, did an en-pointe scene that gained her applause, and provided an easy-to-look-at presence throughout the proceedings. She didn't rise above the level of the other Ziegfeld girls (except on her tip-toes!), but the overall strength of the cast worked against standouts in the ensemble.

My one complaint? The amplification was too much for my sensitive ears. I knew from the start, during director/conductor Brandt Blocker's dynamic opening speech, that the volume level would be too much for me, and took steps to counteract it. Even so, a certain muddiness occurred during the louder choral numbers and Christy Baggett's solos. That couldn't cover up the excellence of the orchestra, playing at the sprightly tempos set by Brandt Blocker. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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