It’s Truckee Follies time again
Having somehow managed to avoid being run out of town after the last Truckee Follies performances in 2004, the production team for this year’s 16th quasi-annual Truckee Follies is hard at work putting together an even more outrageous show.
Scheduled to run for four nights, April 26-29, at the Truckee Community Center, the Follies will use a television theme in its parody of all things Truckee.
Entitled “TruckeeVision,” this year’s must-see show will showcase the lack of talent of many of Truckee’s most prominent citizens while poking fun at the most important issues of the day.
To get a preview of the show, action editor Paul Raymore sat down with Follies Co-Producers Mitch Clarin and Bonnie York, Director Vince Deveney and Assistant Director Norm Justesen to talk about what spectators can expect in this year’s show.
action: So what is the Truckee Follies?
Deveney: The Follies is a quasi-annual – and we use the term “quasi-annual” very loosely because we’re not sure how often this thing gets put on…
Clarin: We’re not sure what “quasi” means either.
Deveney: But it’s a nice word that sounds good. So it’s a quasi-annual musical variety show in which we poke fun at all things Truckee. There are no sacred cows, everybody has an equal opportunity for becoming a target, and generally are.
Clarin: It’s politically incorrect.
Deveney: As politically incorrect as we can make it and not get closed down.
Justesen: Well, if they close us down it’ll only be for two years anyway.
Deveney: It’s bawdy, it’s rude, it’s offensive, and those are just the good parts.
action: So why do people go?
Deveney: Blackmail mostly.
Justesen: To protect themselves.
Deveney: The premise of the whole show is that we’re laughing at ourselves. So they go, 1) to see if they’re a target in the show, because that’s a mark of distinction in this town ” you’ve made it in this town if we poke fun at you. And the other part is basically to blow off steam and take some of the more serious issues of the day and twist them around and make them funny.
action: Can you tell me a little bit about the theme of this year’s show?
Clarin: The theme this year is TV, so all the skits we are doing have something to do with TV. It’s either a commercial or a show…
[there is a brief break in the interview while they all check out a prop brought for one of the skits – a 25-year-old book called “Sexual Love Positions in Words and Pictures.”]
Deveney: TruckeeVision is the actual name of the show.
Clarin: So we’re going to make the stage look like a big TV and try to make you feel like it’s your living room and you’re watching TV.
Deveney: The thematic elements that we’ve tried to incorporate into the show will give you an immersive feeling ” I know these are a lot of big words that will probably be misspelled ” but we’re trying to make the audience feel like they’re part of the show, that they’re part of the experience. We don’t want to give too much away, but it will be a unique experience.
action: So it’ll be interactive in some way?
Deveney: Yes, the audience is fair game as part of our shows. We do put a disclaimer on the back of the ticket ” it’s very small, and it’s in binary ” but yes, the show does tend to spill off the stage occasionally and we do try to engage our audience. That’s half the fun: You never really know where the safe seats are.
action: So those high-priced front-row seats may not be the best choice?
Deveney: Well, you know, things get ripping and flying off the stage. And we do advise the audience before each and every performance that, should something come off the stage, just leave it where it lands, preferably in the wound, and we will deal with it at intermission.
action: Can you give me any sort of preview of the TV shows that will be parodied?
Deveney: Not really, but let’s see… I’m sure we will see some things from the early days of television right up to what’s current and hot on TV right now. Every show is fair game.
action: So is the show all written and ready to go at this point?
Deveney: The show is evolving as we speak. The editing process is an ongoing process until opening night. We keep the show dynamic and fresh and topical that way (Those are all big words that Mitch loaned me, that will probably also be misspelled).
action: So how much work has gone into this year’s production so far?
York: It’s been fun… quite a ride.
Clarin: We’ve been meeting every Wednesday now since what, July?
action: How many people does it take to put on the show?
Deveney: We say a cast of thousands, and that includes the crew and all the various people who have contributed in major and minor ways. Probably, realistically, 300 to 400 people total.
Justesen: There aren’t 300 people in town.
Clarin: What town are you talking about?
Deveney: Realistically, the production team and the cast total about 60 people? 70 people?
Clarin: I think well over 100 to 150.
Deveney: And that doesn’t include all the ticket takers, the servers and the people who put the program together. The program itself is hugely labor intensive. They’re quite collectable and they’re incredibly obscene.
Clarin: X rated.
Deveney: XXX rated. We advise people: If you’re going to keep them, lock them up.
action: So how about tickets?
York: Tickets are on sale at Cabonas.
action: Is that the only place you can get them?
Deveney: Yes, we have one central ticket location.
action: I assume the shows typically sell out?
Deveney: In the past, by opening night, all the shows have sold out. And that’s how it typically works. We’re hoping that we will sell out before opening night with this show. As a caveat, we’re telling people that the jokes are so sophisticated that you should probably see the show at least twice to get all of them. So run down and get your second set of tickets now.
action: Are there better nights to see the show?
Deveney: It depends on who you talk to. The locals tend to gravitate toward opening night, mainly because they’re cheap bastards. I was just making a joke, but the locals do buy them because it is a slightly less expensive ticket, so it’s a good night. The cast is nervous [on opening night], but I tend to think they give a better performance because they’re really up for it.
Clarin: Plus [the opening night audience] knows everything first. You don’t hear the rumors.
Deveney: You don’t hear the rumors, you see the show first. Plus, there are a lot of people who like to be able to talk around the water cooler and say, “You ought to see what they did in the second act…” That sort of thing.
Clarin: But the audience dictates which nights are good.
Deveney: Generally we have one down night. It’s never opening or closing night, and it fluctuates from year to year. Closing night is probably the single most popular night ” everybody wants to be there for closing night for a lot of reasons: It’s a little more festive; the cast knows that this is the big one, so they give their all.
action: So how much do you have to know about Truckee and local issues to understand the humor in the follies?
Clarin: 50 percent of the humor in the show is about Truckee, and 50 percent will make you laugh even if you’re an out-of-towner.
Justesen: A lot of the simple stuff is about the roundabout and other very obvious stuff.
Deveney: Or say parking, or the roundabouts, or parking, or the roundabouts…
Justesen: You know, we’re talking about putting cats on leashes instead of dogs on leashes…
action: So this show is something second homeowners will enjoy as well?
Deveney: Right. And rest assured there will be something about roundabouts and parking in the show.
York: Do you know about the scholarships?
action: That’s a good point. What is the whole financial purpose of putting on the show? Where does the money go?
Clarin: The money goes to help beautify downtown Truckee, and this year we’re giving four $1,000 scholarships to high school students.
Deveney: Each night, before that night’s performance, we’re giving the actual recipient the actual check. What a concept huh?
action: And then the student will be forced to leave before they are exposed to the performance?
Deveney: Yes. They will nod and get a round of applause, and then our goon security squad will hustle them out into the alley.
Justesen: The beautification, is that for Mitch’s sidewalk?
Clarin: Yes, downtown Truckee needs to help me with my sidewalk [he is kidding… I think].
action: Can you leave us with any other teasers about what we might see in the show?
Clarin: There are the dancers.
Deveney: Yes, we’ve got the Mitch Clarin dancers. We can’t say too much about it except that they are the hottest dancers you have ever seen. Mitch has personally auditioned each and every one on his couch, individually and as a group. They are the most exotic dancers you have ever seen and we are really excited to be able to present them for their first public appearance at the Follies every night.
action: All right. Is there anything else you guys would like to say?
Deveney: Come and be entertained. We’re really really happy that you’re going to come and spend your money with us… lots and lots of money.