North Tahoe community comes together for 14th annual lip-synch event

Special to the Bonanza
Courtesy photo

If you go

What: 14th annual Incline Star Follies

When: 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., March 22-23

Where: Cal Neva Resort – Frank Sinatra showroom

Tickets: available at the Potlatch in Raley’s Center, 775-833-2485. Cash or check. Student tickets (K-12) are $10.  Adult tickets start at $10, with additional price levels at $20, $25, $35, and $50.

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — In its 14th year, the choreographers of Incline Village’s March 22-23 Star Follies promise something new this year.

Inspiration for past numbers came from across the cultural landscape — Broadway showtunes, Fox’s hit “Glee,” “Saturday Night Live” and Disney movies.

Without tipping their hat, choreographers concede the crowd will recognize a few of 2013’s numbers from behind YouTube’s red and white “play” button.

“I’m really looking forward to the crowd reaction to see how the viral internet sensations play,” said Incline resident Karen Osborne. She is in her 11th year of choreographing both student and adult numbers in the hit lip synch show.

“I’m really looking forward to the crowd reaction to see how the viral internet sensations play.”
Karen Osborne
Incline resident

Follies annually puts community members and Incline High, Middle and Elementary students on stage at the Cal Neva to raise money for Incline’s public schools, drawing residents to see their neighbors impress — or ham it up.

“Every year I stand by the door at the end of the shows,” said Don Hertel, the San Diego resident who directs the show and serves as head choreographer. “And I hear from people who tell me they’ve been coming for 12 years, 10 years or as long as we’ve been going and they still love it.”

While this year’s show pays homage to its showtune roots — Hertel founded the concept more than 30 years ago and employs it in a few different communities — the choreographers pushed for the inclusion of the inbox-stuffing viral videos.

This year’s assistant choreographers are Osborne, Incline resident Nancy Porten, Incline High School Senior Kayla Goldberg and newcomer Lily Baran, who owns Incline’s Tahoe Players dance studio. Baran is choreographing 14 IMS students — some with no dance experience.

“I was surprised at how well they did when rehearsals began,” Baran said. “I like to choreograph when I show up and I was throwing a lot at them and they’ve been able to get just about everything.

“They’re really high-energy and athletic, we have some stunts I think the crowd will like.”

Working with a group that bucks traditional co-ed dancing norms — girls can be taller than their male counterparts — Baran threw in a few lifts that’ll put the IMS boys high above the Follies stage.

Follies is a labor of love for Hertel, beginning once the current year’s show ends, when he starts gathering ideas for next year’s numbers. Osborne began crafting her numbers in November.

“All the kids this year have been great to work with. It’s my job to make them look good and they get a lot of rehearsal heading into the show,” Osborne said.

Goldberg — who’s been dancing at Tahoe Players since she was three — takes her second crack at Follies choreography after she did it last year for one of the high school numbers. This year she crafted a dance for her fellow high school students in one number — a recognizable top-40 hit — as well as an adult number.

“As soon as Karen gave me my song, I went home and started working on it,” says Goldberg, who began mapping the dance out in late December. “My main goal in choreographing these numbers is to make sure everyone feels like a dancer. I have given them moves that can be challenging but have kept the overall experience enjoyable.”

While the students worked since January perfecting routines, some attendees find deciding which show to attend is the hardest part. The Saturday 8:30 p.m. show is a favorite for friends and family of the 105 cast members — 46 students, 59 adults — and the crowd is a boisterous bunch. The historically placid 6 p.m. Friday crowd is gaining ground as a favorite for Hertel.

“The parents and grandparents have been anticipating and waiting to see their kids in the show and are bringing a lot of energy now,” Hertel said.

So make a call on which show to attend and get ready to enjoy while the cast presses “play” on a community classic.

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