Miss America, Julia Childs come to Brooksby

Follies variety show invites laughter through parody

Created date

June 22nd, 2010

The line to see the dress rehearsal of the third Brooksby Follies variety show snaked around the corner as audience members eagerly awaited entertainment by their Brooksby Village peers. [caption id="attachment_12857" align="alignright" width="280" caption="The Brooksby Follies tap dancers filled the room with their tapping shoes and infectious laughter at the cariety show's dress rehearsal. Left to right: Tony Grande, Vivian Barone, Jim Kusch, Joanne Averay, and Jackie Kusch lit up the stage. (Photo by Setarreh Massihzadegan)"][/caption] It s wild here tonight, audience member Esmeralda Brown remarked. Back by popular demand and involving the work of more than 40 people who live at Brooksby, the Follies show was sprinkled with a movie theme and flavored with music, dance, and amusement throughout. Follies performers brought joyful energy to the stage in I Want to Hold Your Hand, sung by a group of Brooksby men in longhaired wigs who took turns twirling Florence Perkins, the blond-haired object of their affection, across the stage. I don t know where they get it from they don t ever tire; they re wonderful, said Janet Tenney, who sold tickets at the event. Between songs from the Brooksby entertainers, outside acts including singer Fjaere Harder and young sisters Amy Grace and Lauren Savia, whose mother works at Brooksby kept the audience members tapping their toes. In a Miss America parody, Brooksby beauty queens, dressed in oversized t-shirts printed with a bathing suit-clad silhouette, and one unpolished queen in a shower cap (Cynthia Goldston), sashayed onto stage to There She Is, Miss America, sung by Ron Chase. The beauties responded to questions from their host, Hal Fohlin, ending each answer in a punch line.

Audience participation

Audience members did more than laugh; they participated wholeheartedly, waving their hands in the air and singing along as the Savia sisters led a chorus of Sweet Caroline. They even joined in a makeshift game of baseball during Take Me Out to the Ball Game, when performers brought plastic bats and balls through the audience. The mood was light when theBrooksbyFollies tap dancers made their way down the aisles and on stage, where they struggled to tap in sync and laughed mirthfully at their missteps. The infectious cheer made its way to the audience and by the song s end, the laughter carried almost as loudly as the tapping. After conversing with cast member Tony Grande backstage following the routine, the show s director Joanne Averay quipped: Tony thinks we should thank the audience for watching us. She added, To tell you we ve been having a lot of fun is an understatement. The show went on, with a skit performed by Maurice Averay as Julia Childs and Jim Kusch as Julie, the subjects of the recent film Julie and Julia. The gentlemen demonstrated how to stuff and roast a chicken, Mr. Averay in his British accent and deadpan expression and Kusch in a high-pitched voice and female wig. Shoot it first, Mr. Averay explained. The best thing is not to use an AK-47.

Carpe diem

The show culminated in a tribute toBrooksby spioneers, the first residents to move in when the community opened ten years ago. Performers danced with members of the audience to The Best Times Are Now, sung by Gerry Shulman, a Brooksby pioneer who at one point inserted his own lyrics: This is the dress rehearsal, and I ve forgotten the words. After the show, Mrs. Averay said, We have fun; Follies is follies. That s the whole point of follies you make mistakes and everyone loves it."