Friday, February 29, 2008

'Follies' to take Winona community back in time

By Amy Kalina
Managing Editor

The Winona Health Auxiliary will present “Fabulous Fifties Follies,” a musical variety show featuring local singers, dancers and live music reminiscent of the 1950s decade, March 6 - 8 to raise money toward the purchase of a new dialysis machine for the Winona Health Dialysis Department.

The benefit, which will be held at the Winona State Performing Arts Center, is a community-wide event and an important tradition within the Winona Health organization, said Sue Degallier, Auxiliary member and co-chair of Follies. Held in Page Theatre at Saint Mary’s University in the past, Follies is a tradition close to the Saint Mary’s community as well.

“Saint Mary’s students and faculty in particular appreciate both the value of the arts as well as the importance of service to one’s community and helping those in need,” said Chandu Valluri, a professor in the business department at Saint Mary’s as well as the publicity chair for the event.

A “Casting Call” event was held Feb. 18 as an opportunity for participants from the Winona community to meet the director as well as kick off performer auditions and rehearsals. Rehearsals began Feb. 19 at Watkins Manor and will continue through the performances in March. The Follies organizers believe the event gives the Winona community an opportunity to join together in supporting an important local cause.

“Any time a group joins together with the common goal of helping others, success is sure to follow,” said Degallier. “Winonans have a rich history of providing for those in their own community, as evidenced in the recent floods. Follies is another opportunity to support Winona.”

Follies director Sherry Clarke has worked with Christopher Alan Productions Follies, an organization dedicated to providing resources for Follies fundraisers, for four years on an interim basis, and has extensive performance experience in song and theatre. Christopher Alan Productions works with organizations to put together Follies fundraisers, providing a director, a script, costumes, and music to prepare local performers for the show in less than three weeks. Winona Health Auxiliary has worked with CAP Follies in the past to create fun and successful fundraisers benefiting local health care.

“The Follies is unique in that it comes along only every three years rather than annually,” said Degallier. “This year’s ’50s theme will give the show a fun twist — pun intended — and draw people of all ages.”

This year’s show will center on a modern-day teenager who ventures back in time to the 1950s. From Nat King Cole to Elvis, “Fabulous Fifties Follies” promises to take audience members on a nostalgic journey down memory lane, entertaining for the entire family. The event marks the Winona Health Auxiliary’s first Follies performance since “Take Me Out to the Follies” in 2005.

Tickets to the show are $12 and can be purchased at Midtown Foods, HyVee, and the Glady Miller Gift Shop at Winona Health. Performances will be held March 6 - 8 at 7:30 p.m. with an additional March 8 show at 2 p.m. Valluri encourages students to attend, as the show offers a unique entertainment option as well as provides an opportunity for local college students to help benefit the community at large.

“Winona Health serves the entire local community,” said Valluri, who said the benefit is an appropriate lead into World Kidney Day, which is observed March 13. “Follies unites students with the people of Winona, both supporting a common goal. Students can show that the Winona community means something to them.”

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