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A topsy, turvy good time (02/26/2014)
By Amelia Wedemeyer

     Photo by Amelia Wedemeyer

. The Winona Health Auxiliary's “Topsy Turvy Television Follies 2,” a community variety show that takes elements from classic TV shows such as Laugh-In, will be staged Feb. 27 and 28, and March 1 and 2.

There was an air of familiarity during the dress rehearsal for Winona Health Auxiliary’s “Topsy Turvy Television Follies 2” (TTTF2) on Monday night, not only in the sketches and songs that model themselves after familiar TV classics such as "Cheers," "The Andy Griffith Show," and even "Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," but also among cast and crew members who are comfortable enough with one another to burst into laughter whenever someone forgets a line or improvises on the spot.

“I met my best friends when I did this show for the first time,” cast member Deb Skarlupka recalled. “I’ve been doing this since 2000, and it’s great to come back and see everyone and support a great cause.”

TTTF2, which is co-directed by co-chairs Sue Degallier and Nancy Iglesias, is itself a throwback to Winona Health Auxiliary’s first Topsy Turvy Television Follies three years ago. The Winona Health Auxiliary has been producing a Follies for nearly as long as there has been a hospital in town.

“We did the original Topsy Turvy Television Follies with a similar format,” Iglesias explained. “We used theme songs from old TV shows, and we had so much material [left over] that we decided to do a Topsy Turvy Television Follies 2.

“Because it’s all volunteer we are able to have all of the proceeds go to scholarships and the purchase of sleeper chairs for the hospital,” Iglesias continued. “It’s an entertaining show for a great purpose.”

All in the community

“I just joined last week!” new cast member Fallon Devine said when asked if she had participated in the previous Follies. Devine, who has an extensive background in dance and is currently choreographing Winona Middle School’s spring musical, as well as Cotter’s show choir, said that she had always admired the Winona Health Auxiliary’s productions in the past, but never got involved until recently.

“I’ve always heard of this and I didn’t know how to get into it, but someone said they were in need of dancers,” Devine said of joining TTTF2. “The skits have bits for local companies, which keeps it close to the community — I think that part is really cool.”

All cast and crew members are from the Winona region, while the sketches and songs are borrowed from popular television and variety shows, lyrically tweaked to include local businesses and allude to the Winona area.

“All sketches have a local flavor,” Iglesias said. “All the songs are rewritten and the tunes are familiar.”

Even though it is a local production involving non-professionals, the hard work during hours of rehearsal, song and script writing, and the building of impressive sets — which includes a full-size replica Laugh-In joke wall — seems to set TTTF2 apart from other community productions. Cast and crew also seem to agree that the show is something special.

“I’ll definitely participate in this again,” Devine said. “It’s going to be a fun show.”

Winona Health Auxiliary’s Topsy Turvy Television Follies 2 will be presented February 27 and 28, as well as March 1 and 2. Tickets are $12 each and are currently being sold at Midtown Foods, Hy-Vee, and the Winona Health Glady D. Miller Gift Shop. Any remaining tickets will also be sold at the door. The event will be held at Cotter's St. Cecilia Theatre, and attendees should enter the Wabasha (Seventh) Street door. There is a handicapped entrance on the street level, and the elevator can take those who enter at street level up to the theatre. 


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