Who knew ads could get such laughs, and not even cost millions of dollars like the ones during the Superbowl?
The Topsy Turvy Television Follies, chaired by Nancy Iglesias and Sue Degallier and sponsored by the Winona Health Auxiliary, got steady laughs last weekend at the Winona Middle School auditorium. And the ads, or should we call it “product placement,” got nearly the best laughs of all. Written into every sketch was a mention of a Winona business that had paid for a “stage ad,” which would be inserted into the sketch by an actor with a perfectly straight face. The audience loved it and waited for the ding on the triangle from the pit orchestra that came with each ad. So thanks to the advertisers who spiced up the evening and made the show possible!
The Follies is a WH Auxiliary tradition, dating back to the fifties or sixties, and put on every three years or so. This one was written locally by Steve and Nancy Bachler, Sue Degallier, Emilio DeGrazia, Dave, Jeanne and Amy Henderson, Rand Higbee, and John and Connie Styba.
It was great fun to see our friends and neighbors up on stage. The premise was that the stage was an enormous television, and the show was a tribute to the great old shows of the past. For instance, the “Family Channel,” took off on the Brady Bunch (I must say Morgan Gish was very good, and I don’t say that just because I’m her mother), Happy Days, the Addams Family (Angie Johannes always gives a standout performance, and Partridge Family. The Home Channel brought us Friends, Mork and Mindy, Laverne and Shirley and Mary Tyler Moore (wonderfully done by Autumn Herber), and other favorite old shows. The Sports Channel featured the National Anthem sung by Connie Styba, who didn’t forget the lyrics, like someone we heard lately. The Travel Channel gave us Gilligan’s Island with an over-the-top Ginger, played by Sontha Reine. Marlene Mulrooney got big laughs as Tatu, and Flipper made an appearance to much laughter, too. The Dance Channel featured dances from the 1920s up to today, with Cheryl Polachek and Bob Spencer standing out in a ‘40s swing number. Before the intermission, we were led in a sing-a-long of some old favorite television theme songs.
Throughout the whole show, Andy Wojciechowski held the acts together as the salesman showing the television to prospective customers.
The kids in the audience perked up when the Kids Channel came on with Mike Bauer as Barney and a great job by Dave Henderson singing as Mr. Rogers. The kids chorus sang like pros, and Tova Strange was a standout. The Western Channel was great fun, with the Jesse James Gang robbing a Winona bank, and being pursued by various television cowboy lawmen. Bruno Borsari stole the sketch with his Tonto. Bruno must have watched a lot of spaghetti westerns in his native Italy. The Medical Channel had the most clever sketches, with Dr. Bill Davis doing a great Doc Adams, and Rich Moe, Terry Sonnenfeld, Dave Henderson, Mark Roeckers and Mark Wagner as anesthesiologists singing “Waking Up is Hard To Do.” And Steve Bachler made a star out of “Franco” Bures’ doctor’s bag, with all of Bures’ hokey jokes inside. Dr. Bures was out of town.
Director Sue Degallier made a great Robin to Doug Westerman’s Batman for a little interlude. Then came Ed Sullivan, who introduced Kate Smith (I remember by grandmother loving her!) played by Roxy Kohner, who belted out “America,” and Sonny and Cher, played to many laughs by Steve and Jeannie Jorde.
The show ended on a sky-high note, with a takeoff on Carol Burnett’s “Went with the Wind.” Ann Mac Donald as Starlett O’Hara, Deb Skarlupka as Sissy, and Doug Westerman as Rat Butler were absolutely hilarious, and then the whole cast came out to sing “Time to Say So Long.”
I can’t wait for another Follies. But this one will be hard to beat!
2011 Follies cast list:
Patsy Altobell, Steve Bachler, Mike Bauer, Cindy Bell, Madison Bell, Andrea Benson, Bruno Borsari, Brian Britten, Terrie Burbach, David Dambach, Dr. William Davis, Dr. Paul Degallier, Sue Degallier, Teresa Dight, Paul Ebner, Nancy Edstrom Bachler, Andrea Faber, Shelby Faustino, Jesse Gile, Judy Gilow, Morgan Gish, Hannah Graff, Viva Graff, Doug Harms, Mary Harms, Dave Henderson, Autumn Herber, Nadia Hocum, Rosalie Holtan, John Hoselton, Angela Johannes, Janet Johnson, Riley Johnson, ShyeAnn Johnson, Jean Jorde, Steve Jorde, Christian Kauphusman, Bonnie Kiese, Nancy Koeller, Roxy Kohner, Beth Lindholm, Megan Lindsey, Chris Livingston, Ann MacDonald, Mary Mattheis, Megan Mattheis, Vicki McGuire, Sheryl Miller, Rich Moe, Marlene Mulrooney, Michele Nester, Ace Olsen, Casey Peterson, Tom Pfeifer, Cheryl Polachek, Indigo Polachek, Sam Reine, Mark Roeckers, Diane Schams, Deb Skarlupka, Randy Skarlupka, Terry Sonnenfeld, Al Spalding, Bob Spencer, Tova Strange, Connie Styba, John Styba, Teri Tenseth, Angela Thompson, Diane Vaujin, Anne Olsen Wagner, Mark Wagner, Linda Wendler, Doug Westerman, Alli Wildenberg, Debi Wildenborg, Andrew Wojciechowski