BWW Review: THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
Will Rogers wore many hats. He was a radio personality, newspaper columnist, movie star, public speaker, and presidential candidate. All of these roles and more are brought to life in his bio-musical, The Will Rogers Follies playing now at Dutch Apple Dinner Theater.
Michael Santora plays Rogers with a folksy demeanor. Santora is equally at home riffing on current events as he is performing lasso tricks. He often speaks directly to the audience, sharing a nugget of truth wrapped up in a joke. Santora makes it easy to see why Rogers was such a beloved icon of his time.
Melissa Whitworth plays Rogers's wife, Betty Blake. Whitworth plays the character with warm and grace, whether she is on the vaudeville circuit with her husband, home in Oklahoma, or even from the moon.
Corinne Holland plays the sexy and sassy unnamed dancer called "Ziegfeld's favorite" Holland plays her with a lot of spunk, and she serves as a great example of the type of dame that Will might meet on the road.
Jim Moyer rounds out the supporting cast as Will's dad. Moyer brings both heart and laughs to many of the scenes.
JP Meyer conducted to Dutch Apple's stellar five-piece orchestra. I just wish that the show's score was more memorable.
A large part of the show takes place in front of the curtain, with little to no scenery.
On those occasions when the curtain is opened, a large white, immobile staircase is revealed. The specific purpose of the staircase was unclear to me. It seemed to be somewhat of an unnecessary distraction to the show's dance ensemble. I am sure some of them were worried that a wrong move could lead to an embarrassing, if not painful, fall.
Dutch Apple's The Will Rogers Follies is a respectable show performed by an excellent cast. Throw in dinner from their delicious menu and you got yourself a great night out. Tickets and more info can be found on their website.