The Oklahoma Senior Follies is less than a week from opening night, and the finishing touches are being put on the show, full of glitz, music, dance, humor and some of the most amazing talent Oklahoma can claim — all age 55 or older.
The Ziegfeld Follies-inspired show opens at 7 p.m. Friday, with matinee performances at 3 p.m. Saturday and June 15, at the Kirkpatrick Auditorium at Oklahoma City University.
In this fourth year of the Follies, Barry Switzer will receive the show’s annual Ziggy Award and will be crowned King of the Follies.
It may surprise many people that Switzer has a longtime love affair with musical theater.
“I’ve been to a lot of musicals, but not on stage,” he said. “I don’t perform. But I love musicals! I saw ‘Jersey Boys’ six times.”
The Oklahoma Senior Follies, started by Bobbie Burbridge Lane, chairman of the board for The Burbridge Foundation, is intended to revitalize the senior community in Oklahoma, to spotlight the senior talent the state has to offer, to raise money for Mobile Meals of Central Oklahoma, this year’s beneficiary of proceeds from ticket sales, and to inspire seniors to use their golden years to find joy and fulfillment.
Lane is thrilled to feature Switzer in the role of Follies King for the additional attention he will bring to the cause.
“We feel that having him, this is the biggest shot we have had to help our senior community,” Lane told The Oklahoman in a previous interview. “Our Follies have only seniors, clear up to and beyond 90 years old. They sing, dance, present side-splitting comedy — to show, by our example, to our senior community that they can also get up out of their chairs and get active. Maybe they don’t perform, but their talents are needed and wanted in this community, and we value them.”
The Honorable Noma D. Gurich, an Oklahoma Supreme Court justice, is a bit like Switzer, with an appreciation for musical theater but little experience on stage. For the second year, Gurich, 61, will be featured as a “Follies Beauty,” wearing a heavily blinged gown and headdress designed by Ashley Bellet, resident costume designer and assistant professor in the costume design department at OCU.
Gurich loves doing the show because it’s a chance for her to shrug off the assumption that her life in law is completely serious and that she’s somehow above or separated from the community.
“The fact that I can be in something that’s not so serious is a actually a really freeing experience,” Gurich said. “I also think that the worst thing we can do is take ourselves too seriously.”
She said her minister commonly says, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”
That’s part of what inspired Gurich to take on the role of Follies Beauty.
“You can’t sit around and say, ‘I’m not graceful, I can’t do this, I don’t know how to carry myself.’ No. It’s like, ‘You want me to do it? Well, I need to learn to do it, by God.’”
‘Find your passion’
Stacy Dominguez, 64, of Dallas, will join this year’s Oklahoma cast as a Follies Beauty. The vibrant buxom blond loves being a “sexy old lady,” she said. “I’m acting out my fantasy from my whole childhood. I grew up on the old MGM musicals. I’ve always been a big fan of Cyd Charisse and all the great dancers.”
After retiring from a public relations career, Dominguez embraced the opportunity to give performing a try and performed in the Dallas Senior Follies all six years the show took stage. She also performs at nursing homes, assisted living facilities and anywhere that will let her do her Marilyn Monroe impersonation act, which “goes over pretty well.”
“Just find your passion in life, something that gets you out of the house and off the couch, and turn off that television,” she said. “Just get out there, whether you work in a library and help kids, go to a nursing home and visit with the people. Do something in your life that helps other people, and you’re going to be rewarded 10 times for that.”
This year’s script and score, written and arranged by director David Herendeen and musical director Jake Johnson, feature more quippy mashups of recognizable tunes, a more formal black-tie dress and a theme Herendeen described as a “vintage blend.”
“I like a good glass of wine. Things like wine get better and better when they age. We basically have a blend of younger vintages and older vintages. We have a vintage blend: special, unique, better with age, but not necessarily smoother — I’ve got some sassy folks in this cast.”
The show is family friendly, with performances from some notable Oklahoma talent, including Grammy winner Jody Miller, Broadway and lifelong dancer and choreographer Bob Windsor, actor and singer Terry Runnels, performers Charlotte Franklin, Jane Hall, Carol Sander, Jim Henline, John “Count Gregore” Ferguson and Maj. Gen. Jay T. Edwards. Michael Anderson host.
“The show is remarkable and exciting,” Herendeen said.
“It’s something that we in Oklahoma should be proud of. Oklahoma is a source of huge talent. I don’t know if Broadway would be the same without Oklahomans.”
Go to NewsOK.com to watch a video interview with Heather Warlick and Charlotte Franklin, featuring the tap dancing of Bob Windsor.