jump to navigation

Excellent “Will Rogers Follies” at Croswell Opera House – Review June 21, 2010

Posted by ronannarbor in Broadway Musicals, musical theater, Theatre.
Tags: , , , ,
comments closed

There are some shows that any theater in Michigan best leave to Croswell with it’s big budget and full orchestra. One of those shows is The Will Rogers Follies which makes its second appearance at COH in the past 15 years. And its a doozy.

Kent Sheridan and some of the ensemble of The Will Rogers Follies

Kent Sheridan not only returns to star as Will Rogers (and a great performance it is), but also directs the fast-paced but long (2 hours 45 minutes) production. You won’t feel any of that time pass slowly, the show is immensely entertaining.

The cast is super from top to bottom, and does a fantastic job integrating professional performances with those of amateurs. Kent knows how to highlight the strongest performers, and he and Ashley Nowak (Betty Rogers) have fine chemistry together. Lucy Hagedorn turns in a can’t-take-your-eyes-off-of-her performance as Ziegfeld’s Favorite (watch her with the horse – your eyes will tear up with laughter). William McCloskey makes a fine and ornery Clem Rogers.

The ensemble is terrific — and they are beautifully outfitted by Mary Scott. This is a huge-budget show for sets and costumes, and it all shows in this fine-looking production. Scenic Designer Robert Soller has created workable sets, and the show flows from scene to scene with not a glitch that I saw.

Less fortunate is the lighting  which is well-designed, but which sometimes lags behind the performers. It overall looks quite good once things slow down. The wonderful multi-colored staircase works well throughout the show, and recreates the original Broadway set quite adequately.

Kristi Davis recreates the original Broadway choreography quite well. A few steps have been adapted here and there for the cast, but for the most part, is identical to what people saw in NYC (and apparently all regional productions of this show — I have now seen the show in NYC, Phoenix, Adrian twice, and on tour in SF, and the choreography has been near-identical in every production).

“Our Favorite Son” is a true show-stopper. Congratulations to the entire ensemble for this amazing number. It’s worth the price of admission. But so is the rest of the show. It is that good.

I can’t finish the review without mentioning the poor sound. Throughout the production mics popped, creaked, moaned, and in more than one instance you could hear people talking backstage on their mics which were not turned down by the soundboard. In other instances, the balance of sound was not well-modulated from the board — younger members of the cast were overamplified while older more mature voices were not as prominent resulting in occasionally poor blend through the sound system. It’s difficult to mic a 26-member cast, but it shouldn’t be that difficult for a production of this caliber.

Go see this show. Its a wonderful way to spend an evening or afternoon, and you will absolutely love Kent Sheridan as Will Rogers. He continues his long line of appearance as Will in this strong Croswell production. And bring a friend. They will love the show, and if they’ve never seen the Croswell Opera House they will surely come back for more in the future.

An excellent production. The show continues through June 27th. Croswell Opera House, 129 E. Maumee St., Adrian, MI 49221. Tickets: 517-264-7469 or online at Croswell.org