Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

The Will Rogers Follies

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

The Will Rogers Follies

Article excerpt

Broadway has come to Oklahoma City in a big way. Sure, Lyric Theatre's always billed itself as "your Broadway connection," and never is this more true than with The Will Rogers Follies, currently playing there as the final musical of the summer season.

What can I say? It's spectacular. It's Broadway. It's brash. It's funny. It's colorful. It's poignant. It's spectacular. It's Lyric at its very best. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being best, Follies rates at least a 14! Don't miss it.

Billie Thrash, making her directorial debut at Lyric, deserves the plaudits. She has made my kind of Broadway show -- great talent, fast moving, audible, brassy and memorable. Thanks, Billie. And thanks to your choreographer, Sharon Halley, and your cast. Special credit should go to the set designer Doug Getzoff who took the original scenic design from one of Manhattan's largest stages down to fit Lyric's smaller stage. Anyone who's seen Follies or photos remembers that most of it takes place on a series of steps, all of which are lighted from the interior.

Jonathan Beck Reed, who was such a hit in Damn Yankees, proved it wasn't just luck; he exhibited real talent in the title role of Will Rogers (and, of course, he's played that role before under the direction of Billie Thrash at Jewel Box Theatre and elsewhere). Reed proved that it takes talent to chew gum, act, sing, dance and do rope tricks, all at the same time.

As the late, famous humorist from Oklahoma, he exhibited the wit, self deprecation and drive of Rogers. (I've seen two different actors play this role on the stage in New York, and Reed probably was better than either of them!) His tender love scenes with Regina Dowling in the role of his wife, Betty Blake, were touching, and his Favorite Son with the chorus girls was a riot.

Bob Windsor made a return visit to Lyric as Clem Rogers, Will's father, and steals every scene he's in. …

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