Fabulous Palm Springs Follies

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The Fabulous Palm Spring Follies ‘where everything old is new again’. I’d been fascinated by the staying power of these ‘leggy lovelies’ who tap and dance their way through nine shows a week at the age of 77-56 years old. How they could be bothered to kick off their slippers, switch off Heir Hunters or the US equivalent, fold up their cardigans and squeeze themselves in revealing spangly costumes, feathers and heels, and then dance, I did not know, so I went to meet them.

I don’t think any of them actually watch daytime TV or wear anything that isn’t totally glamorous – even to cook in. The video of my trip backstage will be coming soon; these are a few still from it. Suffice to say they are feisty old troopers, as are the wisecracking gentlemen, the oldest of whom is a twinkly 80.

The implausible concept is the brainchild of former TV producer, Riff Markowitz and Mary Jardin. Casting an all dancing, all singing vaudeville-style show with performers of an age most associated with hip replacements and afternoon naps was met with cynicism. “Who wants to pay to see old ladies’ legs?” asked one reporter. Imagine. But, it turns out a lot of people do – mainly, it has to be said, old men (and other old ladies). It’s all proved hugely popular and is now celebrating its 22nd year and ‘nearly 3 million patrons’.

Aside from the gripping nature of the routines, a ticket to the show gives you to see some equally fabulous 50s advertising (cigarettes that soothe throats anyone?) and a chance to look around the historic Plaza Theatre which hosted Jack Benny, Red Skelton, Elvis and Lucille Ball back in the day, and was even the site of the 1939 premiere of Camille starring Greta Garbo). The success of the Follies has kept the building standing, along with, one suspects, some of the performers.

So, video to follow, but if you happen to be in the area in the meantime, check out a show: The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies 

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