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Falling for the follies: catch the fever!

Summer in the Mountain Kingdom heralds the arrival of all kinds of fun stuff: open patios at local restaurants, museum and mine tours, snow-free (hopefully) hiking trails, and our own local musical theatre production, The Gold Fever Follies.  This ever-changing, dynamic show, consisting of stories loosely based on actual historical events in Rossland's history, will see its 24th season this year, and after my preview the other night I can say with confidence that this year's Follies is the must-see event of the summer.

Written by RSS grad and Follies veteran Brian Turner, this year's production boasts an international cast which includes performers from not only Canada but from Russia, Hong Kong, and Tibet. Consequently, this is the first season of the Follies where the Russian and Mandarin languages appear in the show. 

Other new elements include different aspects of modern dance, like hip hop, and even two "body percussionists", Drew Chale and Boris Vdovine, who is the performer originally from Russia.

This year's show is titled "Trapped at the Murphy Inn" and tells the story of a group of can-can girls, bar patrons and employees, and some historical Rossland characters, trapped in an inn after the inn's owner, Oliver, mistakenly tells the man shovelling his roof to drop all the snow on the east side of the building. Oliver failes to realize, however, that that's where his only exit is located.  Director Kyle Collins describes the show as "a 19th century sitcom."

Apart from being a professionally directed and produced enterprise and a professional acting credit for the cast and crew, casting director and co-executive producer Lisa Henderson and artistic directer and Follies founder Ray Furlotte are keen to emphasize other unique aspects of the Follies' overall vision.

The production provides mentoring for local youth, aspiring actors and people in technical support roles such as lighting and stage management. This includes understudy roles for younger cast members, who gain valuable stage experience in a professional theatre setting.
It is also notable that there is a billeting program, whereby out-of-town cast and crew stay in the homes of community members for the summer. Seven out of the 13 performers, as well as director Kyle Collins, are from places like Victoria, Alberta, and Toronto.  Henderson herself makes the trips to these further-afield locations to recruit for the Follies.

Both Furlotte and Henderson stress how important community involvement is to this production.  Not only are regional sponsors and ticket sales to locals essential, but the show itself would not be what it is without key community members.
The choreography was done by Rosslander and University of Calgary drama student Andrea Page, except for the can-can dance, which was choreographed by Kathy Wallace. The costumes were designed and made by Shirley McLim, and I can tell you that the attention to detail, especially with the women's outfits, is exquisite. 

The Gold Fever Follies opens on Canada Day with a 7:30 PM performance. The production runs until Friday, August 20th with two performances a day: a 3:00 matinee and an evening show at 7:30, with the cast and crew taking Sundays and Mondays off. Ticket prices are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $5 for children 12 and under. Season's passes are available for $40, allowing holders to see the show as many times as they wish during the summer.

Henderson recommends locals get in to see the show as early in the season as possible, because sometimes they leave it too late and miss out!