Performers gear up for Oklahoma Senior Follies opening night

The Oklahoma Senior Follies takes the stage June 13-15 at the Kilpatrick Auditorium at Oklahoma City University. The show features Barry Switzer as Follies King, along with many internationally known stars of stage and screen. Ticket sales benefit Mobile Meals of Central Oklahoma.
By Heather Warlick, Staff Writer Modified: June 6, 2014 at 5:59 pm •  Published: June 8, 2014

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?”

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Go to NewsOK.com to watch a video interview with Heather Warlick and Charlotte Franklin, featuring the tap dancing of Bob Windsor.

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