Thursday, August 9, 2007

Getting a line on Follies tickets


A chamber-of-commerce employee wandered out of her Main Street office into a minor mob scene at a time when most of downtown Cambria usually is still asleep.

“What are we selling here, Harry Potter books?” Rody Salkeld quipped shortly before 9 a.m. Aug. 1.

Not quite, but more than 60 people had queued up to buy reserved-seat tickets for Pinedorado Follies 2007. The show runs Wednesday through Sunday, Aug. 29 through Sept. 2.

Guaranteed seats are so coveted that Cambrians line up for hours to snag some. General admission tickets are also available, but front-of-the-hall reserved seats have the best sight lines.

Seeing a show up close can be glorious. I’ll never forget being in the front row and watching the chandelier come down in “Phantom of the Opera.”

But premier seats can have risks attached. We were in the second row at “Tap Dogs” when ushers urged us to don rain slickers before hyperactive, work-booted dancers started skipping and stomping in a water-filled tray.

On Aug. 1, Mark Kramer started the Follies queue before dawn, although sales wouldn’t start for another three hours. Kay Luthi and Dorothy Prychoda soon lined up behind him. By 6:15 a.m., eight people were in place.

Those who really planned ahead brought folding chairs.

This year, each buyer got a numbered slip denoting a specific spot in line, so people were free to wander around a bit, get a mocha latte or take a quick catnap in a warm car.

However, most stalwarts stayed in the line-up, chatting, laughing, shivering and enjoying the annual coffee klatch for early birds.

Prychoda cuddled into her blue camp chair. “It’s worth it to get here early. Yes, you get reserved seats, but we also come for the camaraderie and companionship.”

Each person could buy only six tickets. No batch buying of 25 tickets, no sirree. We’ll have none of that nasty ticket scalping at our Follies.

But Bud Goff needed seven tickets, so he could see the Follies with six family members. So friend Susan Detweiler, there to buy a few tickets of her own, snagged two for Goff in one row, and he bought five in the next row back.

All income goes to Pinedorado’s 59-year sponsor, the Cambria Lions Club, which spreads funds around to other community causes.

And how the shows have changed over the years!

I remember when Pinedorado’s show was a melodrama. Lots of fun, but amateur night, for sure, rather like first-round, citywide tryouts for “America’s Got Talent.”

Follies concepts and performances have evolved, but shows took a giant leap forward this century with direction by Bobbie Monroe, Ruth Fleming and then, starting in 2002, under Peggy Christianson’s professional-quality (though still volunteer) direction.

It takes a full year to create a Follies show. When the final curtain call rings down on the 2007 version, Christianson, co-producer Teela DePond, the Zaragosa family and others already will have begun planning the 2008 edition.

Combine Christianson’s writing, directing and dancing skill with her Disney background and perfectionistic “we’ve got to add something new” attitude, and singers and dancers shine in the spotlights.

Part of the success is technical innovation, including black lighting, a fog machine, wireless microphones and professional lighting equipment borrowed from Cambria resident Ted Fowler, whose firm does entertainment lighting worldwide.

Christianson said, “Every year, we have to add something we don’t know how to do — yet — and then we have to learn it fast.”

So, look for new gadgetry, video and other special effects. I don’t want to be a spoiler, so I won’t say what more than four dozen cast members of all ages will be doing. But seeing Kirk Henning with “goats” and Jerry McKinnon as a centurion ought to be worth the cost. And hearing Cody Pettit and John Ruml singing in English accents should be priceless.

First-in-line Kramer said it’s been years since he stood in a queue for tickets for anything other than the Follies.

“It’s the only show in town, babe,” he explained with a chuck-le. “You can’t miss this one.”

By about 10:15 a.m. Aug. 1, lined-up people who shared that sentiment had already bought more than $7,000 worth of tickets.

(For more Follies ticket information, log onto http://media.sanluisobispo.com/archive/cambrian.pdf, and scroll to Page 19).

1 comment:

Lynnea said...

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