Follies writers mouth off about their upcoming show |

Follies writers mouth off about their upcoming show

Photo by Paul Raymore/Sierra Sun Dr. Brooks Bloomfield, Tom Ballou and Maia Schneider (from left) write the script for the upcoming follies.

The Truckee Follies only come around every other year, which hardly leaves enough time for townspeople to stop laughing at the last show before the next one is upon us.

This year the Follies, universally known as “the can’t miss event of the year” for locals, will run for four days starting Wednesday, Apr. 28 through Saturday, May 1.

Sponsored each year by the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association, the Follies this year feature a “Truckeewood” theme.

Tickets for the show are selling quickly according to organizers, but limited quantities of good seats are still available at Cabona’s in downtown Truckee.

Recently I had the chance to sit down with the writing team responsible for this year’s script including Producer Mitch Clarin, Director Vince Deveney, and writers Maia Schneider, Tom Ballou and Dr. Brooks Bloomfield.

Sierra Sun: So, the Follies has always been a somewhat infamous production around town.

Vince: Yeah, misproduction really.

Maia: And infamous is right.

SS: Then what can people expect this year?

Maia: Inappropriate, offensive, bad humor.

Tom: This year what the audience can look forward to is a change in focus. We are not necessarily abandoning, but moving beyond some of the older, tired pieces and we’re experimenting with some newer, more cutting edge pieces.

Mitch: But we’re not changing anything.

Maia: Except that we’re changing everything.

Vince: It’s an evolutionary process. And it’s not that the old was tired and worn out; it’s that we’re trying to bring new stuff into it to reflect the new Truckee.

Maia: People who have been to previous Follies will recognize certain elements of the Follies that they have come to expect, but some of the older routines that have sort of done their time are out, and there are new routines that have come in to take their place.

Brooks: And they’re just as reflective of the town of Truckee and just as humorous.

Vince: In short, my vision is that this Follies is exactly the same as every other Follies, but completely different.

SS: Can you give us a preview of some of the skits to look forward to?

Vince: What I can tell you is that this year’s theme is Truckeewood Ð a sort of raunchy spin-off of Hollywood, in which we poke fun at all things Truckee. A lot of the classics and neo-classics are going to get butchered and served up all through Act 1 and Act 2.

SS: How did that theme come to be?

Tom: Karen Pierce at the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce. And lots of alcohol.

Maia: Definitely lots of alcohol. If you notice one constant thread running through all the writing, it’s lots of alcohol. (Everyone agrees)

Tom: I think it’s fair to say that the entire writing team has been heavily medicated throughout the entire process.

Vince: We have a Doc who wrote the ‘scrips for everything. Let me tell you, this guy (pointing to Brooks) has the best rhino tranquilizer in the business, and it has really improved the writing.

Brooks: You know, they fall right into line. You get out the dart gun and they behave.

Vince: Yeah, the dart gun is my favorite part of the writing process.

Maia: The audience should fully anesthetize themselves at the bar before sitting down.

Vince: In fact, Doc is going to write a bulk prescription that will cover everyone.

SS: So the show runs from April 28 through May 1st?

Mitch: Yes, four nights. Although it’ll be days and nights for us.

Brooks: We think we’re really funny.

Mitch: The test will be on Wednesday night.

Maia: And Thursday night, and Friday night, and Saturday night.

Brooks: I have three large tanks of nitrous oxide Ð there will be laughter.

Maia: (laughing) Just pipe it in to the community center.

SS: Between the five of you, how many years of Follies experience is there?

Mitch: This is only my second year.

Vince: This is my second as a participant and probably my eighth as someone watching it.

Maia: That’s about the same for me.

Tom: I’m a rookie.

Vince: He’s a virgin.

Brooks: Oh, you too. I think we’re going to get deflowered.

Vince: So Brooks, this is your first year too?

Brooks: This is my first.

Mitch: So Maia probably has the most experience…

Vince: (laughing) Cut! That’s a quote: ‘Maia has the most experience.’

Maia: Can we just back this bus up a bit.

Mitch: I meant on the writing end of it, but I will take my foot out of my mouth now.

Maia: Well Mitch, you were backstage manager last time as well.

SS: So what is the difference between being in the cast and being in the audience?

Maia: The amount of fun you have.

Mitch: You can consume far more alcohol in the audience than if you’re in it.

Vince: Yes, generally the audience consumes far more than the cast.

Maia: Aside from the writing that you see here, there are a number of other activities going on with the Follies. There’s the program development, there are the posters, the set, and a lot of the background work, and that’s being done by a lot of people that belong to TDMA (The Truckee Downtown Merchants Association) and other town volunteers, and they’ve been doing it for a really long time.

Vince: It is truly a labor of love for everyone around this table and everyone involved in the project. It’s a lot of people and a lot of work, but you know, it’s something that everyone is really committed to. It has literally become a tradition, but beyond that, it is the must see show in town.

SS: So why do people volunteer to help?

Vince: Blackmail mostly. Maia has compromising photographs of all of us, so she’s forcing us to do this.

Maia: (laughing) Most of them are with me but I don’t let that get out.

Mitch: Except for me of course.

Vince: Mitch is with a donkey, but we won’t go into that.

Mitch: (laughing) And I asked him not to say anything.

Maia: The real reason we volunteer is the tradition I think.

Vince: It’s a really sick and twisted version of community service is what it really is. Those of us who were privileged enough to see the show when we first moved up here became enamored with the concept and we wanted to do more than just buy a ticket. We wanted to involve ourselves, and we’re all in therapy now because of it.

Brooks: And the reality is, if you go around the table and look at what everybody participates in… it’s people who participate in town activities.

Vince: And the added advantage of participating in this process is you get to take cheap shots at your neighbors.

Maia: That’s really fun, and this job ends. May 1st and we’ll be done with it.

Mitch: And we’ll be able to show our faces in town right around Christmas time. (Everyone laughs)

Maia: Of 2006.

SS: Does the show tend to be such that you have to really know the town to get all of the jokes?

Vince: It’s about 50-50. I would say the material is about 50 percent in-jokes for the locals and the other 50 percent is broad enough that if you have a pulse you’ll get it.

Brooks: The attraction is the people doing it.

Vince: I have an extensive background in community theater down in Southern California and I learned a lot of directing and a lot of the acting skills at the heals of the Disney people, and I have never worked with a more talented, more energetic group ever in all the productions I’ve done. These guys are absolutely the best. The amount of dedication and professionalism I’ve seen from an amateur group is astounding. Mitch is probably the greatest producer I’ve ever worked for Ð he doesn’t hit me, and when he does, he doesn’t leave marks (laughing) – and the writing team gets along fabulously.

Mitch: We’re all working for a common goal instead of worrying about who’s got more parts or written material in it.

SS: Any last words?

Vince: Buy tickets, lots of tickets.

Maia: Come see us.

Mitch: Tickets and dinner. Eat dinner.

Tom: In order to get all the jokes, I encourage you to go every single night.

Vince: The energy on opening night is absolutely astounding. The locals come and we try to give them the best possible show we can. And half of the people show up just to be the first one to see who’s going to get trashed this year.

Maia: Exactly, they want to be the first one talking about it on Thursday morning.

Follies ticket prices range from $25 to $50, and tickets can be purchased at Cabona’s in downtown Truckee. Shows run from April 28 Ð May 1, with seating at 6:15 p.m. and the show starting at 7:15 p.m.

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