Thursday, July 30, 2015 West Kootenay Advertiser
Follies’ history, talent keeps audience trickling in VALERIE ROSSI West Kootenay Advertiser
Nine-year-old Mika and her sister Ellie, eight, don’t shy away from the front row bench at the Miners’ Hall. The Rossland girls should be considered VIP with the number of times they’ve already seen this year’s Gold Fever Follies show. The pair has been season pass holders since 2010’s Trapped in the Murphy Inn. Mom Genevieve Fortin says it’s the “talent of the cast and the amazing, catchy, witty and funny tunes” that keep them going every year. For nearly three decades, up-and-coming actors have brought Rossland’s rich mining
history to the stage in a show full of local lore, old time tunes and cancan dancers. The Follies has created a real culture in the community, always promising entertainment in the dead of summer, said Rossland’s Maureen Holmes, 77, who has never missed a show. “When they first started it was all about the Rossland kids that were in it like Jeff McLellan, Mitch Bell and Jason Whitley,” she recalls. “And then they started branching out when these kids moved away. It’s been a real treat every summer to come to this.” This year’s 29th show, Summer is Coming, continues to serve history well. Tales of the startup
Rossland’s Maureen Holmes, 77, has never missed a Gold Fever Follies show in the 29 years the theatre troupe has graced the stage. This summer she brought her granddaughter Madison Lowe from Kamloops to join her for another “treat.” Valerie Rossi photo of the town’s fire hall, a and a ping pong tour“You keep thinking and Juliet, this year’s scripts for the theatre notable dispute between nament have all made how long are they going show follows a Rossland group. a fireman and alderman headlines. to be able to keep get- volunteer firefighter, JuThe challenge nowating a new storyline,” lian, who falls in love at days, he said, is finding added Holmes. “But of first sight of Romola, a more stories to tell. The course, I didn’t realize girl from Trail. Mean- former Warfield resiabout the ping pong while, fire chief Guth- dent lives in Vancoutournament, so I’m go- rie attempts to prepare ver, where he works as ing to have to look into Rossland for the inevi- a production assistant that.” table fire season, but his in the film industry. He efforts are met by Alder- used to do his research man Flute. from the Vancouver “When it came to Public Library but has that rivalry (between exhausted those files Rossland and Trail) I and now heads straight think I didn’t realize to the Rossland Muwhat doors I was going seum to dig up likeable to unlock when I put the characters like Donald words down on paper,” Guthrie, performed by said Brian Turner, writ- local actor Ty Wright. er and longtime Follies’ The humour writer contributor. “But it ap- tends to litter his script pears to be resonating with jokes and relies with audiences and it on director RJ Peters of was a lot of fun to write.” Victoria to edit his work The tale thickens down to fit the show criwhen two Rossland teria. women head down to The two connect for Trail in search of their auditions on the Coast love-struck friend to to find the stars to take bring him home safely. Turner’s brainchild to Trail’s Italian history the stage. But the imhits the stage with wom- portance of casting local en stomping grapes for talent is reserved. wine and overly friendly The Follies started in men playing a game of 1987 as a small group bocce. of theatre enthusiasts, “When I wrote the headed by Trail’s Ray scene of them going Furlotte. While an artisdown to Trail, I won- tic license is often used, dered what the Trail many of the characters BRIAN TURNER Follies would look like,” are based on real people he laughs. from Rossland’s past. Turner spent five Such characters have summers working with included Judge Begbie, the Follies, which em- Father Pat, the Hunter Based on William ploys young actors, Brothers, Olas Jeldness Shakespeare’s Romeo and continues to write and Big John Kirkup.
When it came to that rivalry (between Rossland and Trail) I think I didn’t realize what doors I was going to unlock when I put the words down on paper,”
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