Golden Age of TV comes alive

Senior Follies hit stage May 2 through 18

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CUMMING, Ga. — Are you feeling nostalgic for the Golden Age of television?
The Georgia Senior Follies have you covered. Starting with the 1950s and working their way into the 80s with songs, skits and dance numbers, the 55-and-older actors who make up the 37 cast members are ready to dazzle the Cumming Playhouse stage May 2 through May 18.
The first act is black and white and the second act is in color, explains Kathy Russell, who produces and acts in this fifth installment of the Senior Follies.
“We always create our own show,” Russell said. “This has never been done before, never will again. It’s a one-time show.
“It’s exciting. Everybody is 55-plus in age and we have some amazingly talented people,” she said. “The dancing is wonderful and professionally done.”
Kathy, along with her husband and music extraordinaire Bob Russell, Director Kyle “Honey” Larsen, Bill Wilson and choreographer Buddy Stotts crafted the production of this year’s “Golden Age of Television.”
Rehearsals kicked off in January for the complex and multimedia show.
TV classics such as “I Love Lucy,” “Honeymooners,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” and “Gilligan’s Island” are featured as the cast members work their way through to the most current part of the show with “Cheers” and “The Golden Girls.”
The cast will also bring back the Beatles and Elvis Presley performances from the “Ed Sullivan Show.”
People who may not have watched the shows know their historical and pop culture references.
“You may not have seen it, but you might have seen it for historical value,” Kathy Russell said. “It’s entertainment for all ages. The baby boomer generation will really identify with it. But even our grandchildren will enjoy it from an entertainment perspective.”
Larsen said in addition to classic television, there will also be commercial spots, show themes and comedy segments.
“One of the challenges is creating a television sound stage,” Larsen said.
Indeed, this will be a huge production. There will be TV monitors capturing the action onstage and backstage and projecting it onto 50-inch screens on both sides of the stage. The look and feel of a studio is being put together with classic-looking cameras, and the theater’s audience will be a live TV-studio audience. There will be pre-recorded and live original music composed by Bob Russell.
This is the fifth time Senior Follies have taken over the Cumming Playhouse.
Each time, the Russells bring back familiar and new faces. In the past, the Senior Follies have honored Broadway, saluted movie musicals, the birth of rock and roll and even a country western.
Pat Groman has performed in every Senior Follies. She said this year, there’s a lot more acting than previous shows. Among her many characters, Groman will play Blanche Devereaux, of “The Golden Girls.”
“There’s something there for everybody,” Groman said.
Another staple is the showgirls, which include Helen Dalton, 83, Dorothy Jones, 80, and Nancy Long, 81.
These three matriarchs will kick their heels to songs that include, “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and “A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody.”
“We’re not old ladies; we are only in our 80s,” joked Long.
Visit www.playhousecumming.com for tickets and more information.

If you go:

What: Georgia Senior Follies “The Golden Age of Television”

Where: Cumming Playhouse, 101 School St., Cumming.

When: May 2 through May 18; 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday matinee.

Info: Call 770-781-9178 or visit www.playhousecumming.com.