BWW Reviews: Lorna Luft Riproaringly Opens the 22nd Season of PALM SPRINGS FOLLIES
On November 1 the annual Palm Springs Follies opened their 22nd spectacular season with an all new show entitled Dance to the Music featuring special guest star Lorna Luft. Slick, scintillating, sophisticated, sassy - the ladies are dressed...or should I say undressed more provocatively than ever - the show runneth over with ageless appeal. And what is more vitally expressive than dance? Move, move, move to musical styles that cover the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s! After that, they are quick to point out, real music stopped.
Highlights include: from the jazz of "In the Mood" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" to the pizazz of "Rock Around the Clock" on to "Baby Love" and specifically referring to dance from "I Won't Dance" to "Tennessee Waltz" to ABBA's "Dancing Queen" and Broadway's "Dance Ten: Looks Three" from A Chorus Line. That's quite some range of pop music from every era, something on tap for everyone. Luft, in great voice, presents 4 songs from the Great American Songbook including Judy Garland favorites "Come Rain or Come Shine", "The Man That Got Away" and "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby". She also includes some cute anecdotes about her mother's association with Harold Arlen and how she managed to get him to disclose to her some top secret music from A Star Is Born while they were playing golf. Luft is with the show through December 31 and since this is the holiday version, there is an upbeat Christmas section with such favorites as "Santa Baby", "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree", "Run Rudolph Run", "The Dreidel Song" in honor of Chanukah and a lovely medley of religious fare with "Ave Maria", "Silent Night" and "O' Holy Night".
One change this season is moving the big themed dance segment of Act II to the spot before the guest star. It creates a nice balance now separated from the grand finale of dance tributing America. Also John Greenberger's graphic designs are more plentiful this season and add great vitality to the background.
This season's second guest act is sheer delight. Comical Mat Plendl is a master hula hoop artiste. Where he puts them and how many he manages to twirl at one time...well, you'll just have to pay a visit and see for yourselves! Loved his entrance in padded costume!
Host Riff Markowitz of course has some nifty political humor, but keeps his monologues super tight and engaging without going too far over the top as in past productions, the Follies ladies are forever gorgeous, the costumes to die for and Joan Palethorpe's choreography and Carri Burbank Glen's tap choreography, zesty and full of the dickens.
The ladies include: Greta Albritton, Judy Bell, Leila Burgess, Stephanie Eley, Karrie France, Jill Gordon, Joni Naber, Terri Olsen, Jane Owens, Jill Owens and Suzanne Vitale. The handsome gents: Wayne Albritton, Hank Brunjes, Randy Doney, Dick France and newcomers Robert Neil and Steve Owsley, the youngest members 56.
Dance to the Music will continue 'til mid May, but you don't want to miss the holiday entertainment and the fabulous Lorna Luft through December 31 only.