Durango, we really need “Magical Mystical” Snowdown this year, if for no other reason than to have a few days of fun and frivolity.
So thank goodness for the Follies, which kicked off performances Friday and Saturday nights at the Durango Arts Center theater.
It’s been a long two years, with fun and laughter in fairly short supply, so when the house lights went down for Saturday’s early show and emcees “Wizard” (Dave Imming) and “Nymph” (Erin White Sinberg) took the stage, you could actually feel the audience letting its hair down and settling in for a night of raucous, totally inappropriate comedy.
Because Snowdown was canceled last year thanks, or rather, no thanks, to the pandemic, Follies performers had two years of material from which to draw. Themes actors poked fun at this time around included: Housing, masks/COVID-19, Camino del Rio, pickleball, tourists/bikers, bump-outs and the “Tiger King’s” favorite zookeepers Joe Exotic and “that b---- Carol Baskin.”
Also mentioned were the “yogurt shop guy” (remember Top That?) and the infamous suspected horse ... uh, dater.
This year’s Follies was performed entirely at the DAC, and offered more performances than usual – showtimes are spread out over the course of last weekend and this weekend, with a couple of special stagings this week. It used to be that the show was split into an A cast and B cast, which switched venues between DAC and Henry Strater Theatre during the course of one performance and for one weekend (with a media night thrown in for good measure). But because the Hank closed in April 2020, the show stayed at DAC with two sets of emcees and an intermission.
Act I kicked off to a packed house with the opening chorus line, which lead to emcees Imming and Sinberg taking the stage. As “Wizard” and “Nymph,” the duo helped catch the audience up on local happenings of the last couple of years, essentially, “Neigh means neigh” and “You can’t put a tracker in a potion.” Their opening was funny, bawdy and raunchy, everything we’ve come to love about the Follies, with the added benefit of firing up the audience for the rest of the show.
The eight skits of Act I included a Snowdown-themed take on the Beastie Boys; a very important health and safety announcement (a scourge is “tiny flecks of yeeech”); therapy we can all use; and a rap about affordable housing that just about made this reporter cry from laughing – I’ve been rapping the chorus since Saturday, but because this is a family paper, I won’t/can’t repeat it here.
If you’re able to catch a show, you’ll also be filled in on local news, courtesy of the hilarious “Snow News” desk and a Dude with some serious “stuff.”
One of the funny things about the Follies is getting to see people you know in everyday Durango dealings take the stage. This year, our vet Randy Hays, along with Shaheen Hangval and Pete Diethrich, took us back to science class in “Mr. Wizard’s World.”
Act I closed with a catchy (pun intended) – and timely – “Vaccine Daddy.” Who knew such awesome choreography could include a gurney?
The chorus line was back to get Act II going – with the return of emcees “Siggy” and “Boyd-O” (Christopher Calagias and Sean Hein), who made everyone laugh until they cried at the 2020 Follies. They were just as funny this time around, and I wouldn’t be upset to see them again at next year’s Follies.
Act II treated the audience to more great choreography and singing with everyone’s pandemic Netflix binge “Tiger King,” with the skit “Tiger King Sings,” which included Big Cat Dancers. Then it was “Hog” season on Main Avenue, courtesy of Hannah Squire, Ginny Laidler and Michelle Robertson. Ashley Hein sang of the problems, pitfalls and the possibility of broadening one’s dating horizons with “All My Exes,” and I guarantee you’ll never look at Buckley Park – or the train – the same thanks to “Crapspiracy.”
True to the theme of this year’s Snowdown, there was some real magic featured in Act II, with Mysto the Magi. “Cinder’s Fella” featured more great choreography and another take on modern romance.
The evening ended with “Dr. Mystical,” a musical interlude that brought the entire Follies’ cast back on stage. And when everyone came out, the audience erupted into a standing ovation.
Of note this year is the number of relative newbies to the Follies stage: The show’s program lists not only who’s in each skit, but how long they’ve been performing or working on the crew. Of course, there are the veterans – here’s to you, Dave Culver (26 years), Chuck Fredrick (22 years), producer/finance director Janalee Hogan (30 years), sound director Doug Eagle (33 years), ticket master Bob Sauer (35 years) and usher Roc Simmons (33 years) – but there are a number of performers who are fairly new. This bodes well for us, Durango, because hopefully, these performers will be back.
Bottom line: If you can get your magical mystical mitts on some Follies tickets this year, do it. And if you already have some, you’re in for a real treat. The show is funny, topical and a great way to forget about the real world for a couple of hours.
Stay safe out there, and Happy Snowdown!